Food Photography Project: Recreating Professional Creations

My girlfriend recently enrolled in a food photography class at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. She just finished her dual masters, and she felt like it was time to pick up some extra skills in subject that she actually enjoyed. Both of us already have a love of food, and the idea of learning how to capture the beautiful imagery from our magazines was very appealing.

Her class’s most recent homework was to find images of food photography that they liked (tear sheets) and then do their best to recreate those pictures. Most beginners would probably choose pictures of an uncooked fruits or vegetables with a simple background, but not my girlfriend. She rummaged through a few of our old Saveur and Bon Appétit magazines and found dishes that differed in photography styles and lighting. It then became a fun project for both of us; I helped her make the food, and she styled and shot it.

I’m pretty sure she was hungry when looking through the magazines, because she originally chose about 20 different pictures. In the end, she had to narrow it down to three. She chose one from Bon Appétit, one from Saveur, and one from a local publication highlighting a new restaurant at the Venetian. I’m pretty sure the only reason the Venetian photo came into play was because of her love of Uni (sadly the dish came up short in taste when they decided to add a sweet BBQ sauce to a Uni Avocado Toast. That was just sacrilegious of them adding BBQ to Uni… just saying).

Who doesn’t love an ooey gooey grilled cheese sandwich? The first dish we replicated was a perfectly seared grilled cheese with the cheese stretching from one half to the other in the pages of Saveur magazine. The ingredients for this recipe were pretty simple, thankfully not much to search for. We used a cheese blend of grated Swiss and Gruyere cheese. Shredded cheese tends to give the sandwich a better melt and elastic look. I seared the grilled cheese on both sides using a cast iron flat top on our stove; you can use a cast iron pan or a normal frying pan. I sear the sandwich heavily on both sides, while pressing it with another pan on top to give it an even sear, before throwing it into a 350 degree F oven to finishing cooking the inside.

This was the original picture from the magazine

 

This was our interpretation of the image

The second picture was the uni and avocado toast that we anticipated with so much excitement, until the actual product fell short with their addition of the BBQ sauce. We debated on making the dish ourselves, but the cost of the raw materials and ingredient search from store to store didn’t make sense for a $17 dish. It’s surprisingly hard to find micro greens and edible flowers on a Saturday in Las Vegas.

Here is the original picture from the Las Vegas Weekly magazine

 

Here is our interpretation of the photo with the actual product. I guess they had a hard time finding decent edible flowers as well, or they just gave us the crappy looking ones.

The final dish was the most detailed one. The selected image from Bon Appétit magazine was a challenge, but one that was so much fun to take. Here we have Seared Steak with roasted Cipollini Onions and wilted Radicchio, and Fried Potatoes with Tomato-Chipotle Sauce and Aioli. The secret to the potatoes was to blanch them, cool them, fry them, and then fry them a second time before serving. As for the steak, I gave it a hard sear on the outside, and then finished it in the oven to a rare, medium rare. The original recipe calls for the steak to be seared and then basted with butter to finish cooking and to give it a glossy look. For time’s sake, I had to sear it and leave it for her to throw in the oven to finish cooking.

Here is the original Bon Appetite picture

 

Here is our interpretation

I’m so proud of the work my girlfriend has done in this class thus far- even her teacher was surprised that she barely had any camera knowledge before this. Can’t wait to see what we can continue to make together!

 

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Grilled Cheese with Vine Tomatoes BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list Yum
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Turn a flat top or a frying pan on to high heat, as well as your oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Butter the exterior of both sides of the bread
  3. On one half, layer the bread with the sliced tomatoes, cover it with the grated cheese and top it with the other half of bread
  4. Sear both sides of the sandwich heavly
  5. Place with sandwich on a parchment or foil covered baking sheet in the oven for 5-10 minutes until the cheese is fully melted.
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Pan Seared Steak with Riddichio and Roasted Chipolinis BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list Yum
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Let the steaks sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
  3. Lightly toss the cipolline onions in a bowl with olive oil and salt, Place on a foil covered baking sheet and roast in the oven until softened, 25-30 minutes.
  4. Heat a cast-iron or an oven proof skillet (no plastic handle), over medium-high heat. Rub the steaks with olive oil and season with salt and cracked pepper on both sides.
  5. Cook the steaks for 25-30 seconds, Turn and cook on the other side for 25-30 seconds. Continue the process of cooking and turning steaks until both sides are deeply browned and an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 130 degrees F, about 8-10 minutes.
  6. Add butter to skillet and cook, tilting the pan and spooning melted butter over the meat, until the steak looks glossy on top.
  7. Move the steaks to a cutting board and let it stand for 10 minutes before slicing against the grain.
  8. While the steaks are resting, toss radicchio and vinegar in a large bowl to combine. Drizzle with oil and season with salt; toss to coat. Serve all together.
Recipe Notes

The original recipe calls for Bavette cut which is a well marbled piece of steak from the end of the sirloin, which was prized for its flavor. It is most commonly known as a "flap steak" by butchers. If you cannot find this cut you can go with sirloin (like i did), hanger, or flank steak. 

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Twice Fried Potatoes with Chipotle Tomato Jam and Aioli BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list Yum
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
Ingredients
Sauce
Potatoes and Assembly
Aioli
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
Ingredients
Sauce
Potatoes and Assembly
Aioli
Instructions
Tomato Chipotle Jam
  1. Grind the fennel seeds in spice mill or mortar and pestle; set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, season with salt, and cook, stirring often, and golden and soft, 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add chiles, garlic, coriander, and reserved fennel and cook, stirring, 1minute.
  4. Add tomatoes, crushing with a spoon as you go, and juices; reduce heat and gently simmer, stirring occasionally at first and more frequently as sauce thickens, until sauce is thickened and jammy, 50-60 minutes
  5. Let cool, and discard chilies. Pulse sauce in a food processor to a course puree.
Twice Fried Potatoes
  1. In a pot of cold water covering potatoes and a pinch of salt, bring it to a gentle simmer until the potatoes are just tender, 20-25 minutes.
  2. Drain and transfer potatoes to a kitchen towel-lined rimmed baking sheet. Chill uncovered in the fridge until cold, about an hour.
  3. Fit a large pot with a thermometer and pour in vegetable oil to measure 3". Heat over medium-high until thermometer registers 325 degrees F.
  4. Working in batches, fry potatoes until skins begin to slightly bubble around the edges but do not brown, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel to drain
  5. Reheat the oil until the thermometer registers 375 degrees F.
  6. Working in batches, refry the potatoes until golden brown and very crisp, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a fresh paper towel to drain.
  7. Toss potatoes, paprika, cumin, and salt in a large bowel.
Aioli
  1. In a bowel whisk together egg yolk, garlic, and vinegar to combine.
  2. Whisking constantly, gradually drizzle in grapeseed oil and continue to whisk until aioli is thickened and emulsified. Season with salt and whisk in water is too thick.
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