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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Picture Perfect

I think we can all agree that I am no food stylist.  I think I am also safe in assuming that none of you thinks I am a gifted food photographer either.  That's okay.  I know my limitations.

Let's face it.  There's only so much you can do with an iPhone.  Yes, there are those people out there that are gifted selfie takers.  I get that.  I've watched Keeping Up With the Kardashians.  I am pretty much convinced that besides parading around with her boobs hanging out, all Kim Kardashian does is take selfies.  It's no wonder she's good at it.  She gets a lot of practice, what with all the Selfie Books she makes for Kanye.  Everyone needs a skill, and I suppose that selfie taking is as good a skill as any.  True, Kim isn't solving world hunger, but it's important to work with what you've got.

But back to me.

I've often thought about how I might make the photos on my blog better.  First and foremost, I could do a better job of staging them.  Charlie's girlfriend has suggested I take the pictures from above, but that would require moving a step stool or some other something to stand on.  I could also veto the really bad pictures and not use them.  I don't do that either.  I always think all my pictures are artistic, which is really just an excuse for pictures that off center or blurry. Maybe it's that I don't have a good eye for these things.  Who knows.

My overall photography approach is quick and dirty.  I snap, I download, I post.  I guess I think that the food should speak for itself.  Sometimes this works.  Sometimes not.

Today was a good day.  Not only is Yotum Ottolenghi's Cauliflower Cake beyond divine in terms of taste, it also came out looking looks picture perfect.  I'm not kidding.  I took these pictures of the actual cake I baked.  Right out of the oven.  Honestly, I don't think I've ever made anything that spoke for itself better than these pictures.  (If you disagree please don't tell me.  I'm on a high from the sheer thrill of it all.)

I'm sure these and every other photo I've ever taken could be improved.  Maybe someday either (a) I'll get better at the whole food styling/photography thing, or (b) become so wildly successful that I can hire someone to do it for me. (Personally I'm voting for option (b), but I wouldn't mind a little smattering of option (a) either.)

Until then, bear with me.  And enjoy this picture perfect treat as either a light main course or a really special side dish.

Recipe:  Yotum Ottolenghi's Cauliflower Cake
Plenty More, 2014


1 medium cauliflower
1 large red onion, peeled
5 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
7  eggs
½ cup chopped basil
1 cup all purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground turmeric
1½ cups grated parmesan
Salt and black pepper
Melted butter, for greasing
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds


Heat the oven to 350F.

 Break the cauliflower into medium florets, put them in a pot with 1 teaspoon of salt, cover with water and simmer for 15 minutes, until quite soft. Strain, and leave in the colander for a few minutes to dry.

While the cauliflower's cooking, prepare the batter. Cut 2 or 3 rings off one end of the onion and set aside (these will go on top of the cake); coarsely chop the rest. Heat the oil in a pan and on a low heat sauté the chopped onion and rosemary for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, leave to cool down, add the eggs and basil, and whisk.

Sift the flour, baking powder and turmeric into a large bowl, and add the parmesan, one and a half teaspoons of salt and plenty of black pepper. Add the egg mix and whisk to eliminate lumps. Add the cauliflower and stir gently, trying to keep some florets whole.

Use baking parchment to line the bottom of a 24cm round cake tin with a loose base. Brush the sides with butter, put in the sesame seeds and toss them around so they stick to the sides. Tip in the cauliflower mix and arrange the onion rings on top.

Bake the cake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes, until golden brown and set. Serve just warm or at room temperature.

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