With the holiday season well behind us and under our, slightly tighter belts, it’s time to tuck into January’s bountiful harvests. And January offers copious varieties of fresh and rich produce, waiting to be turned into cosy and comforting recipes.
They say that January is a lean month, putting right all the indulgences of the past month, but also a lean time for produce. I say that’s just not true! There are parsnips, swede, cabbages, beetroot, leeks, chicory, chard and cauliflower to name a few of the produce available in our markets at the moment. January also is the perfect month for game, oysters and mussels, which provide a great basis for saucy casseroles, hardy stews, heartwarming curries, robust risottos and steamy soups.
All things I am craving for right now. January is definitely becoming a savory month for us, where we crave the more hearty meals as we come back from our mini skiing trips or the dishes that promise to wrap us up in comforting hugs after a long day at work or school.
Weather-wise however, it feels like January is tricking us to believe that the milder days of spring are not far. We have not seen much snow in Weimar this winter and while in the higher areas of the Thuringia forest winter sport activities are in full swing, the snow making machines are working overtime to provide the perfect conditions.
There are mornings when the fields near our house gleam with a blanket of white frost and a few snow flakes try their best to give us the winter we are used to at this time of year but it does not last long. The mild temperatures melt away even the most stubborn of snow flakes into puddles of murky water. I am missing those crisp frosty mornings that make my cheeks tingle and turn my nose red. Soeren is missing running out to the hill behind our house with his sledge and racing down with his friends. And this time last year - I was complaining about the tons of snow we were shoveling. But there was something magical about all that snow and I never thought I would say this - but I am missing it.
While winter is playing hard to get, we still find solace in the produce the season offers. Cauliflower is a vegetable I really love and enjoy pairing it with other ingredients to create different flavor palates.
That is probably the reason I was drawn to Simone’s current Donna Hay Styling and Photo Challenge. I had taken part in the first challenge back in September with the delicious Cannellini Bean Salad with Olives and Ricotta and really enjoyed both the challenge and the recipe. I have very strong opinions about trying to replicate other people’s images and copying their style and I have shared my thoughts in that post. Simone’s challenge however, provides us with plenty of room for free interpretation and I use the challenge as a basis to play around with a different frame of mind than I usually have while shooting images.
For this challenge Simone chose a photograph by Ben Dearnley another photographer I truly admire for his deliciously sultry images. The original looks extremely simple to execute but the challenge was trying to get the right light. I decided to go with dark browns for my props instead of the dark blues. As in the original photo my light also comes from the right, I used black card to cover some parts of the window to allow for more focused lighting and also used black light absorbers to darken the right side of the image further. I had fairly strong light that day and my image is brighter than the original. I love the folds and creases the napkin creates in the image and the challenge was to pay attention so that the creases do not produce too many dark patches around the bowl. This is my interpretation of the challenge.
As I did in the first challenge, I also shot this recipe in my own style. I chose to go with tones of whites and vanilla with a touch of blue and lots of bright back light. I did not diffuse the light coming through the windows and also used a bounce to direct more light to the front of the image. In terms of styling the one thing that really disturbed me about the original photo was the missing thyme. Thyme is one of the components of the recipe and I personally find herbs to be the perfect natural props adding texture and subtle color to the image.
The recipe itself is quick and easy to prepare and a glance at the ingredient list shows it to be a very straightforward and fuss-free dish. Do not let that fool you though. The soup is simply exquisite and offers a great mix of refined flavors. The Parmesan cauliflower crumbs accentuate the aromas of this soup further.
While serving the soup I added shavings of additional Parmesan over the top, which gave it that distinct complex sharp and nutty flavor that the cheese is well known for. The sprinkling of fresh thyme added added another flavor highlight and rounded the soup off perfectly. The soup is rich and creamy and tastes and has the perfect balance of cauliflower flavors without it being too over-powering.
Hope all of you are well and your year has started off to a good start. Mine has been very positive, productive and full of planning. I am working on a few projects and hope to share them with you soon as I am very excited about them. I hope they all pan out as I expect them to :o) In the meantime I’d love for you to check out our Plate to Page website!
We still have a few free slots on our Plate to Page workshop due to cancellations, so if you missed our incredibly successful Tuscany Plate to Page workshop in October and you want to join us, registrations are open for Plate to Page Somerset due to be held in the UK in Spring 2012! Have a look at the programme, details about accommodation, and then you can register here. But hurry as places are limited to 12. It would be great to see you there!
The Twelfth Weblog Awards: Bloggies 2012 are accepting nominations for your favorite blogs in a variety of categories so if you have a few minutes go over there and nominate!
You might like these soup ideas from WFLH:
|Carrot and Red Lentil Soup with a Hint of Cumin||Tuscan Tomato and Bread Soup - Pappa al Pomodoro||Mushroom Cream Soup with Thyme Parmesan Chips|
All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2011 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First