Thursday, September 06, 2007
R and I are just back from a week’s vacation in the Adirondacks and Tennessee. We had a great time and lots of culinary adventures. I’m planning a post with a recipe or two from our travels. In the meantime, I put a teaser of the photos we took and uploaded on to flickr in the bottom right-hand corner of the blog (click through to link to the entire set).
Some time before we left, I decided it was time to get more serious about food photography. I think my photos are fine, but I’ve been interested in really learning more about what makes a great shot, how to use props, and how to get lighting right. I started looking more carefully at magazine photos, researching the topic on the web, and joined a flickr food photography group that hosts a monthly challenge and critique.
In my opinion, the most beautiful and consistent food photography comes from Donna Hay and team. I’d be pretty happy if I could get my shots to look a fraction as good as hers do. I love her aesthetic and love how she sets up simple shots that are full of beauty. Her magazine is gorgeous and inspirational, and her recipes are pretty good to boot! I’ve tried a number of recipes from issue 29, among which is a gorgeous apple pastry that I had to try simply because it photographed so beautifully. It turned out to be delicious too; slightly reminiscent of baklava on the inside with a petal-like topping of apples soaked in sugar syrup. Since you buy the puff pastry, it’s not that hard to make either.
I took my own take on her recipe omitting the pistachios and walnuts and increasing the quantity of almonds instead. The most readily available pre-made puff pastry sheets in the supermarket that I could find is Du Four, which is shaped such that dividing it into two rectangular-shaped pieces, (as opposed to rounds), worked best.
I decided to use the tart as the basis for one of my submissions to the flickr photo group for August’s challenge, diptychs. Having never thought about diptychs in my life I found myself considering every potential shot as a part of a broader composition. It was a lot of fun to think differently and learn about something entirely new. My first submission was entirely sub-par but I got better as the month went on. I’m looking forward to September’s challenge.
Apple and almond tart (from Donna Hay)
2 x 9 3/4 inch ready prepared pastry sheets, thawed (see my note above re: Du Four)
1 cup almond meal (ground almonds) (I ground my own in the food processor)
½ cup caster (superfine) sugar
1 ¼ oz unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, whisked
2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup pistachio nuts
¼ cups chopped walnuts
2 cups water
2 cups caster (superfine) sugar
4 pink lady apples, thinly sliced (really must use a mandoline for this)
To make apple syrup, place the water and sugar in a small saucepan over lover heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer for 10 minutes and then remove from the heat. Allow the syrup to cool completely then add the apples, set aside.
Preheat oven to 355º F. To make the filling, place the almond meal and sugar in a bowl and stir to combine. Add the butter, egg and honey and stir well to combine. Fold through the pistachios and walnuts and set aside.
Cut out 2, 9-inch rounds from the pastry sheets. Cut out a 7 ½ inch round from one of the rounds to create a border and discard the center. Place the border on top of the larger pastry sheet. Place on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Spread the filling over the centre of the pastry and cook for 20-25 minutes or until puffed and golden.
To serve, remove the apple slices from the syrup, place on top of the pastry and drizzle with the apple syrup.