This is a post I’ve been looking forward to writing for a while now. Not so much for the recipe, but for the chance to apply some, if not all, of what I learned at the Food and Light Workshop held here in Colorado to my images. It was organized by Jen at userealbutter.com and included three of food blogging’s heavy hitters, Todd and Diane of WhiteOnRiceCouple.com and Helene from MyTartelette.com.
The workshop was attended by both professionals and newbies and seemingly every skill level inbetween. It was held at the Rembrandt Yard in Boulder in a space that looked liked it had been designed solely for shooting food. There were giant windows casting fantastic light on 3 sides of the room.
Topics covered everything from getting your camera off the AUTO setting to direction of light and types of light. The 2 days was highlighted by styling demos from both Helen and Diane. Apart from learning more about shooting with off-camera strobes, this was the main reason I was here. While I feel my photos are technically strong, I don’t feel they convey any type of style or forethought and that’s what I want to change. The photos on both their sites, and like Jen’s site, seem like they were created effortlessly.
Normally when I take out my camera to shoot for my site, I put no other thought into the photos other than “Do I have a correct exposure for the light available?” and”Do I have the proper portion of my subject in focus?” What I learned was to think about what type of light I had, which direction was the light coming from, what mood I wanted to convey with my photo and the layers I needed to present my dish. These were all the things that I put into the photos of this Gazpacho. They are not perfect, but they represent a step forward for me, and for that I thank Jen, Todd, Diane and Helene.
Gazpacho with Spiced Shrimp, Lemon Crema (8 servings)
2 English cucumbers, peeled and rough chopped
8 ripe tomatoes, rough chopped
1 red onion, rough chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and rough chopped
2 Tbs. garlic, minced
2 cups Tabasco bloody mary mix
2 oz Sherry Vinegar
4 oz extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. parsley, chopped
1 Tbs. oregano, chopped
Fresh ground black pepper
1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree till smooth.
2. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tbs. pickling spice
1 Tbs. cayenne pepper
1 Tbs. fresh ground black pepper
1. Bring 2 qts of water to a boil.
2. Add the pickling spice, cayenne pepper and black pepper.
3. Bring the water back to a boil.
4. Add the shrimp to the boiling water and turn off the heat completely
5. Allow the shrimp to remain in the water for 10 minutes.
6. Remove from water and chill.
2 oz. sour cream
Juice of half a lemon
1. Combine the sour cream and lemon juice.
2. Mix well and reserve for service.
One quick note about poaching shrimp…In the last fifteen years I have seen cook after cook boil shrimp until they were done, or overdone as was mostly the case. There is a fine art to cooking a shrimp so that when your teeth sink into it, you can hear and feel that ‘pop’ of a perfectly cooked prawn. As a rule of thumb, I use 1 gallon of cooking liquid per 2 lbs. of shrimp. Bring the liquid to a boil, add your shrimp and then turn the heat off… yes, off. Allow the shrimp to cook slowly in the liquid as it cools, check for doneness at about 5 minutes. Remove the shrimp to an ice bath to halt the cooking process immediately. This is pretty much a no fail method, get in the habit and get used to perfectly cooked shrimp.