Move over berries, tomatoes & fresh summer produce and make way for the root vegetables and vines. I love to cook and I’ve said that before, but to date I have bought just one cookbook and I have never followed a recipe(unless am baking) to the tee. I can’t follow recipes to the tee, because I am either out of some ingredient that is required or I don’t like the taste or fancy an ingredient. I like my own twists and turns, cookbooks and recipes are just guidelines for me, guidelines for proportions, baking times etc. Besides if you have noticed, bulk of these darn books make things in batches that serve 6-8 and we are just two people at home here. It is almost like condemning us to stale baloney sandwiches because we aren’t entertaining or have a family big enough!! In my case let me throw in another spoke into that wheel – my husband is a vegetarian – yeah you heard me right – vegetarian. For the record there is nothing wrong with it, it is probably healthier in some ways but sometimes that means I have to make two different meals which is rather off putting. Can you imagine double chopping, double cooking and worst of all double washing ( you know that kind of load isn’t going to fit in a dishwasher). Oh joy! the things we do for our loved ones! Let’s come back to not following recipes…so here I am inspired by Ina’s butternut squash soup, but I don’t want to sprinkle on toasted coconuts and curry powder as a garnish. I come from a land that uses those ingredients generously and am not fond of eating either as a garnish! Why waste fantastic flavor like that? Butternut squash soup embraces the concept of successfully marrying something innately sweet with a spice that sits squarely and firmly on the opposite side of sweet. As a tamilian (from the state of Tamil Nadu in South India), we are genetically predisposed to hating such flavors, we are purveyors of spice and heat, so for me it is a recently acquired taste and one that I genuinely can’t get enough of. So I picked up Ina’s recipe and tweaked it to roasting the squash with curry powder, cut out the coconut and added a tinge of maple syrup to help with the caramelization of the squash. Well, I’ll just furnish the recipe below.
But lets not forget that this blog is aimed at photography. The best thing about food photography is that much of it is done under natural light – something that is free and plentiful. The only issue is, as we close in on fall and winter, there are lesser hours of sunlight and more dark and dreary days. Also, in the interest of not losing much of that beautiful light, it will mean cooking dishes earlier during the day. Planning is key during such days, winging it just wont cut it! Visualizing the shots and getting a story board together, helps. It helps to keep the props ready to go, and have everything at hand when you suddenly realize pouring the soup into the bowl is just not a smart idea, ladling it in – is. So does that mean end of shoot , just because you have splashed soup all over the bowl and there are specks of soup that make the bowl look like a dog’s breakfast??? Nope, that’s why there are little things called swabs and tissues. I have learnt to appreciate the usefulness of the “quicker picker upper” more, since I started shooting soups. Today, I stuck to my kit lens of 18-55mm, compensated for the dreary rainy day through my exposure compensation and by adhering to a slower shutter speed. I will post the EXIF details along with the picture,one will have to click on the picture to see the exif. There were no reflectors used, I liked the natural shadows that were falling around the plates and the food itself was lit well enough and I wanted the details of the swirls to show through a little bit. I got about 5 slightly different compositions with the same variants and am posting each one of them. So if you are here just for the photography, skip the next part and go to the picture, if not read on for the recipe.
Roasted Butternut Squash Recipe
2 pounds butternut squash soup
1tbsp curry powder
1tbsp maple syrup
1 cup diced red onions
4 cups of vegetable broth(low sodium only)
1tbsp butter or olive oil to saute
salt to taste
Olive oil to coat
Preheat the oven to 400F. Cut the butternut squash into 1.5 inch cubes, toss with olive oil, maple syrup and curry powder. On a baking tray, lay out the squash and bake for 40-45 minutes, until its golden and beginning to char. In a stock pot, saute the onions until translucent, add in the squash and the broth and simmer for 15-20 mins. The stock should have reduced from 4 cups to about 2-2.5 cups (depending on how thick you want the soup). Blend in a food processor and serve warm with croutons.