Fall is inching ever so closely, that when I look out my window I can see some orange and red leaves peeking back at me. Soon it will be cold, and everyone will talk about layering and jackets and bundling up by the fire – and before you know it, the holidays will be upon us! Its almost that time of year when one tends to think about comfort food. But I am clutching on to summer’s coat tails and wringing it of its very last bounty. Oh, don’t get me wrong – I prefer the cold over the heat but summer gives me one thing in plenty that I adore the most – fresh strawberries! Like carrots, I hate cooking strawberries. The sweet but tart red stippled fruit doused with a generous dip of my version of fromage blanc with mascarpone, is the simplest manna one can construct within a matter of minutes. It almost gives me the feeling of enjoying a day of tennis on the lawns of wimbledon. A version of Strawberries & Cream, so wrong for you and just so right. Its like that seductively attractive guy you know is bad for you but you just can’t seem to keep your hands to yourself.
1 pint of strawberries hulled
1 8oz container of mascarpone
zest of one lemon
2-3 tbsp of heavy cream/whole milk (whichever you prefer)
2 tbsps of honey or 1 tbsp of confectioner’s sugar ( add more if you want it sweeter)
1 tsp vanilla extract ( not essence)
Mix ingredient 2-5 in a bowl to a consistency where you can dip a strawberry into ( add more milk if required). Tastes better if the dip is a little colder than room temperature, Dip strawberries & enjoy.
But coming back to comfort food and the upcoming change in season, I foresee a lot of experimentation with soup. One of the few things I will list as comfort food is a no-nonsense chicken soup that my mother used to make for us. Nothing like the sometimes insipid to taste, chicken noodle soup. Heck no! This was a spicy concoction that could clear a sinus. It was spicy and warmed up every thing it touched and even our dog used to love it and drink it piping hot. She always used the giblets, some of our Indian spices, a good heap of garlic and chopped up coriander and that was all the flavor that this clear broth required along with salt & pepper. From the smell to the taste, this rather uncomplicated soup was a giant hug that relieved us of congestion and cold.
Speaking of spices, I was wondering about photographing some Indian spices that we use often and was doing some research online to see what compositions had already been done. Symmetrical compositions with wooden spoons or bowls, all whole spices in a row, powders in a heap at a market were all that I could find. Also in all my previous food photos, I saw an element of symmetry and pattern and I wanted to break the mold. Spices are a cook’s palette and that sentence got me thinking. There is some symmetry in this too, but just as a subtle reference. Let me know what you think.
I will also be writing a piece on food photography for a magazine I edit so I needed a cliched but fun shot that was simple and could take some text on it, so I shot this…
All of these photos were shot using natural light, near an open window on a slightly overcast day. I used a diffuser to even out the light hitting the food and to get softer shadows. The only post processing done on these pictures are for contrast and a slight amount of color saturation.
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