SIMPLE, SWEET and other delicious reads
When you go to the bookstore, what genre of books do you immediately go to? Fiction? History? Personally I am not much of an avid reader but when it comes to cookbooks I can skim through maybe 5 at a time.
Whenever I purchase a cookbook I always consider both the recipes and the photographs. Photographs are crucial part of my decision- making process because they provide a representation of what you are going to make. Sure, the photograph will not look exactly like what you are making but it does give you a good idea.
Though I usually buy cookbooks as a gift for myself, I also consider them a learning experience because not only am I indulging myself in these delicious recipes, I am also learning the art of angles when it comes to food photography. I can honestly say that when it comes to food photography there is definitely room for me to improve, especially when it comes to shooting food with props. I've been trying to find my own style and stick with it but it's proving a bit difficult. It's definitely an area where I need to progress and luckily in this day and age there are plenty of ways to gain ideas on how to make food so appealing thanks to social media, especially Instagram.
Now obviously Instagram’s main platform is pictures, but when it comes to taking photographs of food not everyone can create that “hungry” appeal. There are so many Instagram accounts that I follow where their whole feed is aesthetically appealing and the food looks INCREDIBLE, from the one image to the selection of nine that are in their profile. If you’re like me and do enjoy looking at the delicious food and some pretty impressive food photography, here are some people I think you should follow:
Edd Kimber | theboywhobakes
Kayley McCabe | thekitchenmccabe
Bea Lubas | bealubes
Nora Eiserman & Laura Muthesius | Our Food Stories | foodstories
Alessia Palmieri | hellofrommykitchen
Holly Wulff Petersen | ryelondon
Heidi Swanson | heidijswanson
Nigella Lawson | nigellalawson
Yotam Ottolenghi | ottolenghi
There are many more but those are just to name a few. I can honestly say that whereas bloggers definitely have more of a design aspect to their feed, everything that chefs like Nigella and Yotam post looks absolutely divine! I have been a big fan of Yotam Ottolenghi since I bought his cookbook PLENTY in uni. Ottolenghi definitely knows how to pick photographers. In his book PLENTY all his recipes look scrumptious, so much so that you want to lick the book. Also when he does an Instagram story or posts an image of his cafés or bakeries in London, I can’t help but salivate I just get hungry looking at the photos. As the saying goes, I’m so close yet so far, truly applies here. Visiting his bakeries will be the first thing on my list next time I head to London. Within in the past two years he has published two new cookbooks SWEET, which is all things sweet as the title states, and SIMPLE a collection of simple recipes.
Luckily, as I was passing through the bookstore I came across both the books in Kenya. I was extremely excited because after seeing some snippets of the books through his social media I knew what I was getting. So to inaugurate the books I have been cooking recipes from both SIMPLE and SWEET for the past two Sundays. Two Sundays ago I cooked his Slow-cooked chicken with crisp corn crust, which was comforting, light and incredible. However I did have a few issues in terms of not having all the ingredients or stupidly forgetting them, but in the end it tasted fantastic. This Sunday I decided to make a Slow-cooked Lamb Shoulder with Mint and Cumin, accompanied by New Potatoes with Peas and Coriander from his book SIMPLE, and for dessert a Passion fruit Cheesecake with Spiced Pineapple Topping from his SWEET book.
When I decided to make this I thought it would be pretty simple because it only has to go in the oven for 6 hours, no big deal. To my surprise early on that Sunday morning KPLC (Kenya Power Lighting) switched off our power for the whole day to do maintenance… so I had to do the next best thing and cook the lamb shoulder on the stove in a Dutch Oven (essentially, a Dutch oven is a cast iron pot). I would say it was a long day of cooking just because of looking after the Lamb on the stove. I had to constantly make sure there was enough moisture in the pot to ensure that the lamb wasn’t burning. Although after the whole day of cooking it was definitely worth the wait.
What I like about Ottolenghi’s recipes is that each recipe has a mix of ingredients which brings out a BURST of flavour. His potatoes with coriander and peas were out of this world and what made them really interesting was the mixture of lemon and chili. In his SIMPLE book there are plenty of Pudding recipes, however I really wanted to try the Passionfruit Cheesecake that I saw in his SWEET book.
Now I can say this cheesecake has lots of ingredients but they blended really well together. His picture of the cheesecake didn’t necessarily turn out to be the same as mine firstly, because his was smaller than mine, and secondly, mine was slightly more orange. But that could be due to the fresh passionfruit I used in it. Who Knows! Either way I find his use of spices on the pineapple as well as the crust really did balance out a bit of the citrusy/sour/sweet flavour from the pineapple and the passionfruit. It’s a delicate cheesecake especially when you cut a slice but man does it melt in your mouth.
After I finished making the cheesecake with the pineapple topping, I tried to figure out different ways in which I could photograph it. I was only able to take photos of the cheesecake because one the lighting was not good to take a photo of the lamb and potatoes when they were ready and two I was starving and couldn't wait any longer to eat. With a cake it can be difficult trying to get the best angle because it can either work from a birds eye view or from a Side view. When I think about taking a photograph I mainly look at the colour contrast and the composition. Angles are definitely something which I still need to work on. But luckily with my hunger and interest in these recipes that I read in books or see online it gives me more opportunity to grow and learn from my mistakes.
NOTE: All the recipes were that I mentioned are from SIMPLE and SWEET
SIMPLE by Yotam Ottolenghi, Tara Wigley and Esme Howarth (2018) Ebury Press
SWEET by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh (2017) Ebury Press