Festive Colours On Your Plate

Looking at this image, I need to think of Cinderella – humble cabbage dressed beautifully for her date, and there’s the friendly lamb rump steak and the mighty roast potato – all in fine accord with each other.

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So little fuss for such a lovely outcome.

I loved working on this image – for two reasons: I like this cabbage in its wonderful colourful outfit, but also for the challenge of capturing seemingly ordinary food in its better  shades and glitter side – it’s nearly Christmas after all!

And that all also applies to the steak – a piece of meat, that needs to be dressed and presented so well, it will not cause any clash between tastes nor the looks. Hope I did well, both in taste and the looks, too.

For the cabbage side, use  a small head of the vegetable, steamed in a medium hot deep pan. Before adding the cabbage, add a good splash of vegetable oil and stir fry a medium finely chopped onion till golden. To taste the cabbage I use three to four tablespoons of vinegar (white balsamic if possible) and two tablespoons of granulated sugar, pinch of salt and a teaspoon of caraway seeds. Cover the amount of cabbage up to two thirds with water, bring to boil, then leave on lower heat for as long as you find the cabbage softened, yet still a bit crunchy – the way I prefer it, giving it an occasional stir mostly to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pan.

For the steak, you need to think of fast shallow frying, not longer than three minutes, with half time of that meant for each side (meaning 1  1/2 min for each side of your steak). Use a very hot pan, and nothing more than simple vegetable oil patting, sprinkle of salt and black pepper for each slice before the frying. I also used rosemary twigs underneath and over each steak, lovely combination. If you want a stronger kick, use some crushed red peppercorns, that should do. Not many though, not to overpower the rosemary scent. After frying, let them rest for a few minutes – three to five, depending on their size.

For the potato side, boil few of them in peel, and when soft, place them on a pre-heated deep baking dish (simply place the dish into the oven while pre-heating it), sprinkled with vegetable oil, salt and a bit of plain flour. Stir well, and let roast at 200 ºC (fan) uncovered till beautifully golden brown, you may like turning them once golden on one side.

Start with the potatoes, go along with the cabbage, and prepare your steaks as the last ones. Though, do not forget to take them out of the fridge in time enough to become of the room temperature.

For the pictures – in styling, use the seasonal bits typical by nature of the holidays coming, as well as the colours conveying this goal: I used red and green accents, both for my props and the food. For the lights, as this is a typical winter mood shoot, use cooler light, but bring the coziness and warmth on with metallic reflectors – e.g. silver and golden ones – which I found very useful for this particular shoot. Make some lovely meaty gravy beforehand to enhance the reflections on the meat, too.

I used natural side light, very well diffused, and lightly reflected by a large white foam board on the opposite side of the setting. I wanted my cabbage glisten to show how fresh and moist it is, but couldn’t leave the hero steak behind either. Meat placed on the other side of the main light source keeps enough dark details which help to show its texture – a thoughtful placement of the white board here reflects just enough light to prevent it from some too dramatic darkness.

Use fresh herbs as food styling props, and keep the balance – if you use them richly on the meat for example, do not let the rest of the plate suffocate and use them sparingly.

Hope  you find these useful, as well as tasty, of course. Bon Appétit & happy seasonal clicking, everyone!

 

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