Wednesday, March 14, 2012

On the Fourth Day they Ate...

So my next foray into food styling came in the shape of an editorial spread for  Country Living magazine with  photographer Carol Dunne. The editorial shoots are very different from the advertising and packaging shoots as the styling is slightly more relaxed and 'realistic' and it is usually focused on recipes rather than one product. 

Me and Carol taking a pic of the Chicken
The good news here is that editorial shoots are interesting from both a styling point of view and a cooking point of view. We made six amazing dishes, one of which was a roast chicken with a thyme and garlic butter smoothed under it's skin. I had never tried this before and so approached it eagerly but  very tentatively. On seeing my wimpy attempt at getting under the birds skin, Sharon took the butter, grasped the chicken and demonstrated a technique similar to that used in Chinese warfare. It was shocking to see and so satisfying to do! If you thought Maggie Thatcher had thick skin you should go and shove some butter under a chickens skin.

Beef  Noodles

So while the chicken roasted beautifully with its buttery lining going golden brown, we moved on to fresh mussels with an Asian broth. A few of the dishes had Asian flavours and even though I am confident with those ingredients, I learnt that while they can pack a punch they can also be very subtle and delicate. I had worried that chilies, garlic, ginger and lemongrass would overpower the flavour of the mussels but using coconut milk to form the broth really mellowed the intensity and worked a treat. The mussels were absolutely delicious. As were the beef with noodles and pak choi, the chicken and ham pies, the basil tagliatelle and of course, the Guinness and chocolate cake.

The food before the massacre

In fact it is here that 'good news' introduces us to it's evil twin - 'bad news'. The bad news is that I ate it all. It started innocently enough, having the mussels as our lunch. With seconds and then thirds and bread. The flag went up when it was thought best to 'sample' the beef. The last thing I can remember is Sharon handing me my third slice of Guinness Cake.
It had been such a  fun day, lots of laughs, I had learnt a tonne and we had got all of the food cooked and styled. I should have been happy with my lot and left it at that, but no. I wanted more. I wanted to eat my work. It was indecent and unnecessary, and I will absolutely 100 % do it again.

Setting the beef noodles up for the photo

My Nemesis


  • It may be common sense, but when making a sauce or mixture with something like butter or creme fraiche, loosen it up by beating it on its own before adding the other ingredients. This helps to keep the flavours from being 'overworked' but helps to make the mix easy to work.

  • Don't pigeon hole ingredients. Stout in a chocolate cake, chilies and ginger acting subtly. Beef and noodles out about with little more than a smile and a dash of soy sauce! I had forgotten that great produce speaks for itself and even the usual punchy flavours can be modest when needs be.

  • If putting flavored butter under chicken skin, son't be timid - it can take it!