On the cover of Fresh Ways with Fish & Shellfish was the most enticing photo of Shrimp and Asparagus Wrapped in Sole. I read the recipe once, twice and then after the third time, I finally queried my mom – how was I going to wrap the fish around the shrimp and asparagus to look like the photo? She couldn’t figure it out either, and so she got on the phone to call the editor. I guess at this point in the story, I should mention that she worked for Time-Life Books so it wasn’t completely over the top that she should pick up the phone.
It was at that moment I discovered what food styling is all about: making food look enticing and succulent for the camera. Realistic and edible are not required.
Every once in a while, I will style food for local photographer Ellen Callaway. Together we created a portfolio of food shots. Unlike the recipes I create for my blog, we pick dishes that inherently will work for the camera. Because of that early childhood trauma, I refuse to stage food that is not created according to the recipe accompanying the shot.
For a recent photo shot, I wanted to create a pasta dish with chanterelle mushrooms, but only hedgehogs were available.
Fettuccine with Wild Spring Mushrooms and Parmesan
½ pound fettuccine
3 scallions, cut lengthwise into 4 pieces each
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
½ pound chanterelle or hedgehog mushrooms, brushed clean and cut into quarters
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
¼ cup dry sherry
Salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste
Freshly grated parmesan
1. Cook pasta according to package directions. One minute before it’s done, add scallions to the water. Drain pasta and scallion together and toss with olive oil.
2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium high flame. Add butter. When it’s melted, sprinkle the mushrooms in one layer in the pan. Top with a sprinkling of garlic, shallots, thyme, salt and pepper. Let cook for 3 minutes without stirring. Stir and then let cook for another 3 minutes.
3. Deglaze the mushroom pan with sherry. When mostly reduced, adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
4. Toss pasta with mushrooms. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Some other photos, Ellen took of my food:
Braised Artichokes with Creamy Risotto
Beets and Goat Cheese Napolean with Buttered Walnuts
Cappuccino Petit Fours