Next week’s client has specified a ‘blue and white mediterranean style bowl’ for one of the shots and I am turning my cupboards out trying to find something suitable! The top two are French!
Brisket.jpg on Flickr.
Last night’s delicious brisket - slowly pot roasted on a bed of onions, celery carrots and herbs, for 6 hours. Meltingly good.
On the first Saturday of each month there is a Farmers’ Market at Penshurst Place. I don’t always remember to go - but regret it when I forget because it’s a real food shopping treat. The setting is lovely, loads of parking space with the roofs of the house peeking over ancient walls, and the stalls arranged comfortably spaced with bright awnings that give it a wonderfully festive air. Most of the stall holders are very local and the choice is amazing. There are the ususal chutney and preserves and honey, all good, two fish stalls, often a specialist poultry stall, game and charcuteries stalls, eggs, Indian (gluten free) food, lots of good vegetables and fruit, old garden tools, home made cakes and cookies, plants, cut flowers, free range pork and sausages. It’ a really good alternative to a visit to the supermarket.
My purchases yesterday included two little pots of peeled shrimps and a bag of mussels form Botterills of Rye (last month I bought two fantastic local lobsters from them for £11.00 each), a tray of 5 pigeon breasts and another of 3 rabbit saddles, some delectable rabbit pate with prunes, large eggs, loganberries, local plums and Kentish cob nuts. I didnt get any of the pork as I’ve just half-filled the freezer with gluten free sausages from Moon’s Green, and am about to take delivery of a half lamb from our neighbour so daren’t add anything more to tthe store.
These pictures were all taken with the Olympus XZ-1, and mostly appear here just as they came out of the camera. I’ve never had results from any digital camera that needed so little tweaking. I’m shooting raw and what loads up into Lightroom looks just as I remembered it in life and as it looked on the back of the camera. I have always done at least a basic correction of levels and colour balance, but this extraordinary little camera doesn’t seem to require it. It hangs lightly round my neck from a proper neck strap attached to each side of the camera, and so is ready to grab when something happens, it responds quickly and I can see myself taking better shots as a result.
When I got home and upacked my shopping I took a few more shots with the Olympus XZ-1using the macro setting which works very well despite having a two step process to access it. The wide aperture gives a very attractive, smooth short depth of field whichever end of the lens you use. The sharpness is impeccable - even into the corners, I have seen no chromatic abberration, and the colour is accurate and clear.
I am beginning to wonder if I will ever use the Olympus E-P1 again — this seems to do all that camera does but more easily!
My favourite picnic food is a tortilla or frittata. It all goes back to my first holiday away from my parents when I went to Spain with school friends. We stayed in a very austere youth hostel in a once grand building where we were subject to strict rules of behaviour! The best thing about the hostel were the wonderful packed lunches we were given to take with us for lunch for our day trips. After breakfast we would be presented with a still warm package wrapped in paper with a little oil already leaking through. This was a proper tortilla espanola that was basically just eggs and potatoes cooked in olive oil - a staple of the Spanish tapas. By the time we ate it sitting in some hot and dusty square it had cooled and the flavours had fused to become one of the great classic taste sensations, and one that I have held in mind for more years than I care to remember. The Italian cousin of the Spanish tortilla is the frittata and its main distinction is that the frittata doesn’t need to be flipped in the pan - it is finished under the grill.
When making a frittata or tortilla for a picnic I tend to use what I have in the fridge - this was a particularly happy combination.
Prawn and spinach frittata
4 medium potatoes, preferably not new
2 tblsp olive oil
Handful frozen prawns
Baby spinach leaves
6 eggs, beaten
2 tblsp Parmesan, grated
Several turns, freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
Turn the grill on.
Peel and dice the potatoes, boil for 10 mins until just cooked.
Fry the onion in olive oil without browning until translucent, add the potatoes, prawns and spinach leaves, stir gently to combine and distribute the oil.
Gently beat together eggs, Parmesan, pepper, and salt. Pour egg mixture into pan and stir with wooden spatula as little as possible to distribute the ingredients evenly in the eggs.. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until the egg mixture has set on the bottom and begins to set up on top. Sprinkle with parsley.
Place pan into oven and grill for 3 to 4 minutes, until lightly browned and fluffy. Remove from pan and cut into 6 servings. Serve immediately or leave to cool - makes a brilliant picnic.
NB the rather bright yellow of the frittata in these photographs was because I was short of olive oil and used Carotino Palm Oil which is a rather bright yellow orange colour!
Shot on Olympus EP-1 with 14-55 lens, processed in Lightroom3
One of the side effects of being a food photographer is the sudden glut of unlikely ingredients in my fridge. From last week’s shoots I currently have a dozen packs of hot chilli peppers, 4 or 5 packs of wafer thin ham, several packs of smoked salmon and a whole carrier bag of lovely fresh dill. I can’t bear waste so my challenge is to find dishes to use up this curious cornucopia. Today’s lunch made some inroads into the salmon and dill!Smoked salmon and dill frittata.