29 December 2010


I've neglected the recipe posting lately. That's mainly because of Christmas and the fact I've started the BA (Hons) Photography course with the OCA. I have a few more images and their associated recipes to post over the coming weeks. Once I've settled into the course, I'll start some new images. My son gave me Lou Manna's book for Christmas so I'm hoping to b able to improve my technique and styling over the coming months.

If you want to see what I'm up to with the OCA, my "The Art of Photography" learning log is here:

12 December 2010

Potato Onion and Cheese Layer

This is a slow cooked vegetable dish which could accompany a casserole cooked at the same time. Again, from Rose Elloit's vegetarian cookery, this is filling winter food.

Serves 4-6 as an accompaniment

25g butter
2 large washed and peeled potatoes, sliced thinly
100g grated cheddar cheese
salt and ground black pepper
4 tbsp milk
Sliced cherry tomatoes and parsley to garnish
  1. Heat the oven to 170°c, gas mark 3. Grease a shallow casserole dish with half of the butter.
  2. Cover the bottom of the dish with a layer of potato slices, then a layer of onions followed by a sprinkling of grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Carry on layering like this until all of the ingredients are used up, finishing with a layer of potato slices. Pour the milk over the top and dot with the remaining butter.
  4. Bake for about 1½ hours until the potato feels tender when pierced. Garnish with parsley and tomato slices.
As an alternative, why not try a tablespoonful or two of soured cream instead of the cheese, omit the milk and a top off with a layer cheese and breadcrumbs.

The Photograph
Lit from above with a 60cm softbox, reflectors below the lens and a 30cm softbox at 45° to the left.

06 December 2010

Stilton and Broccoli Soup

Continuing with the winter warming soups, this one is based on a recipe from Alwyne Broome. I've made it to my taste but that's the beauty of soup, you can adjust the recipes to suit what you've got in the larder.

4 Servings

15g butter
1 medium onion sliced
1 medium head of broccoli cut into small pieces
150g wedge of Blue Stilton
1 dsp flour
squeeze of lemon juice to taste (about ½ tbsp)
Cream for garnish
Parsley for garnish
Salt and black pepper to season

1. Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat.
2. Add the onion and cook over a low heat, covered, for 5 minutes without browning.
3. Add the broccoli and cook (covered) for 10 minutes, stirring to prevent the vegetables from browning. Stir in the flour and cook for a couple more minutes
4. Add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Blend until smooth and simmer again.
6. Turn off the heat  and crumble in the Stilton, stirring constantly while it melts.
7. Squeeze in some lemon juice to taste (I find this just tones down the richness of the cheese but don't overdo it).
8. Serve in warmed bowls, garnished with parsley and a swirl of cream accompanied by fresh bread rolls .

The Photograph
This is a very simple lighting setup which works well I think. There is a 60cm softbox to the left of and at 90° to the table and a similar sized reflector in a similar position opposite. The seamless white backdrop is overexposed by 1½ stops by two wide angle slave flashes. There are two polystyrene block reflectors to the right of  the lens lifting the shadows on the right of the bowl.

05 December 2010

Carrot Cake

I've had couple of requests for this one. It's very popular at coffee time at work and in Devon! It's straight from the Dairy Cookbook 1996 edition. The topping is delicious, soft cheese, icing sugar, double cream and vanilla and the cake is really moist. You'll need to line a loose bottomed 21cm (8") tin. To be really indulgent, you could make two and stack them with a layer of the topping in between. This recipe has no cinnamon but there is so much going on in there that you don't need it.

For an 8" cake

225g self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
150g soft light brown sugar
50g chopped walnuts
50g raisins
100g grated carrots
2 ripe bananas peeled and mashed
2 eggs
150ml vegetable oil

For the topping

65ml fresh double cream
50g sifted icing sugar
75g full fat soft cheese (softened)
½ tsp vanilla essence
chopped walnuts to decorate

1. Sift together flour and baking powder in a mixing bowl and add sugar.
2. Add nuts, carrots,raisins and bananas, stir.
3. Beat the eggs with the oil and pour onto the mix. Stir until well mixed.
4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake at 180°c gas mark 4 for 1½ hours until firm to the touch or when a skewer comes out clean.
5. Remove from the tin and cool on a wire tray.

1. Whip the double cream until softly stiff
2. Cream the icing sugar, cheese and vanilla together with a fork. Fold in the cream.
3. Spread over the top of the cake with a palette knife and sprinkle with chopped walnuts.

The Photograph
I took this so long ago I can only guess at the lighting set up. It looks like two lights at 45° left and right. I think it was a softbox on the right and a diffused brolly on the left.

02 December 2010

Mushroom Croustade

I found this tasty recipe in the Nut Dishes section of Rose Elliots "Vegetarian Cookery". You can make this with any suitably prepared nuts. I've used almonds and my granary loaf breadcrumbs in the croustade. (The original recipe calls for fresh whole wheat breadcrumbs. Mine were a bit moist so use freshly crumbed stale breadcrumbs in preference to off the shelf processed ones.)

4 -6 servings from an 8" (21cm) loose bottomed flan tin

75g flaked almonds
75g freshly made stale granary breadcumbs
75g ground almonds
1 small onion, skin removed and grated (if your eyes are sensitive to onions, mince in a food processor)
1 garlic clove, crushed and chopped finely
90g softened butter
Salt and ground black pepper
450g small button mushrooms, sliced
300ml soured cream
Freshly grated nutmeg

1. Heat the oven to 180°c gas mark 4.
2. Keep a few flaked almonds for garnish (you can toast them to enhance the flavour). In a bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs, ground and remaining flaked almonds, the minced onion, garlic and 75g of the butter. Season well with salt and pepper. (add the butter gradually until the mixture holds together. Depending on the amount of moisture in your breadcrumbs and onion, you may not need all of the butter)
3. Mould the mixture into the bottom and up sides of your loose bottomed flan tin. Place in the centre of the oven and cook until golden and crisp, (about 20 minutes).
4. Melt the rest of the butter in a frying pan and cook the sliced mushrooms for 15 -20 minutes until they have shrunk and lost all of their moisture.
5. Cover the base of the croustade with the mushrooms, season well with salt  pepper and nutmeg and spread 150ml of the soured cream over them, allowing some to show through the cream. Add a generous shake of paprika.
6. Place the croustade back into the oven to warm through for 10 - 15 minutes, remove from the tin and serve on a warm plate garnished with the reserved (toasted) flaked almonds. Serve the remaining soured cream separately.

This dish is also delicious served cold as buffet food made in 10cm mini flan tins. They also make ideal individual starters with a green salad. If you're going "nuts" at Christmas, why not try this to kick off your Christmas lunch?

The Photograph
Nice even soft lighting was achieved with the large soft box above the table, white reflectors below the lens and a small soft box from the rear at 45°above to give the specular highlight on the cream. Unfortunately the depth of field was not sufficient to bring the front of the croustade into focus but this was the best shot to show the texture and colour of the crust. The aperture was f11, f16 may have done it! Must try harder.

01 December 2010

Egg Cheese and Bacon Flan

This could be a quiche but as far as I remember this has always been called egg cheese and bacon flan. It has it's origin in my recipe folder from way back in the 70's when I was sharing a farmhouse in Shropshire at the start of my dairying career. There were always plenty of eggs available and the lady who came in to clean once a week often offered to bake for us, either a cake or a flan. I think the sum of 50p changed hands. As I was the only one of the three of us who had any rudimentry cookery skills, I took on the job of cook and added the flan to the menu once I had learned to cook it. The only thing I've changed are the units of measurement. In my head it's in lbs and ozs, pints and fl oz.

For an 8½" 22cm flan dish

225g plain flour
115g butter
pinch salt
2-3 tbsp cold water
3 large eggs
Milk to make the filling up to 400ml
100g  grated cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper
6 rashers of grilled streaky bacon cut into short lengths
2 -3 tbsp of very hot vegetable oil

1. Preheat the oven to 200°c Gas Mark 6.
2. Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl, rub in the butter evenly (or blitz it in the food processor).
3. Slowly add enough cold water to make a firm dough, turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth.
4. Chill for 30 minutes in the fridge, roll out fairly thinly into a circle. Roll the pastry onto the rolling pin and transfer it to the greased flan dish, lifting the edges gently and pressing the pastry all around the sides and into the corners.
5. Trim the top, prick the base all over with a fork and place in the centre of the oven and bake for 20 minutes, pressing it down flat if it rises up. It's cooked enough when it is firm to the touch and a pale brown colour.
6. Remove from the oven and pour 2-3 tbsp very hot oil onto the base to make sure the pastry comes out really crisp. Brush the base with beaten egg to seal any holes and bake it for a further 4-5 minutes until the egg glaze is set.
7. Meanwhile, break the eggs into a graduated jug, add 75g of the cheddar, enough milk to make up to 400ml and beat the mixture to combine the ingredients. Add salt and pepper.
8. Put the grilled bacon onto the base of the flan, pour on  the egg/milk/cheese mix.
9. Sprinkle on the remaining 25g of grated cheese and bake in the centre of the oven for 35 - 40 minutes until the egg mixture has set and the cheese has melted and browned nicely.

This flan is really tasty served hot or cold, and is an ideal snack straight from the fridge.

The Photograph
Another simple lighting setup, just one soft light at 45° to the right with a large white relector on the left. The reflective black surface is a granite worktop protector.

30 November 2010

Choc Chip and Hazelnut Biscuits

These went down a real treat in the office. Based on a plain biscuit recipe from the Dairy Cookbook, I added chopped roasted hazelnuts and chocolate chips.

Makes about 30 biscuits

225g self raising flour
pinch of salt
150g butter
100g caster sugar (I used unrefined)
75g chocolate chips (plain or milk - your choice)
65g chopped roasted hazelnuts
½ tsp vanilla essence
beaten egg to mix

1. Sieve flour and salt into a bowl.
2. Rub in butter (I use the food processor for this - it's easier on the hands and a lot quicker).
3. Stir in the sugar, nuts and chocolate chips.
4. Add the vanilla, then enough beaten egg to make a stiff dough.
5. Turn the mixture out onto a floured work top and knead until smooth.
6. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
7. Roll out the dough thinly and using a 5cm biscuit cutter, cut into rounds.
8. Place on  silicone paper on a baking tray, leaving enough room for them to spread. Prick with a fork and bake for 10 - 15 minutes at 180°c, Gas mark 4 or until pale gold.

My baking tray takes 12 biscuits. Be prepared to cook three batches.

The Photograph
I was thinking how to make a plate of biscuits look interesting and came up with this idea using limited depth of field and the mug in the background. The original shot was wider and I tried to include steam from the mug but I couldn't make it work. (that's a another project entirely). I cropped very close. The reflections are from a sheet of clear acrylic placed on top of the the seamless black cotton backdrop. The lighting is very simple, the 60cm soft box above the table with a silver reflector above the lens lifting the shadows.below the plate.