FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY: GREAT TIPS FROM A PRO PUT TO USE

Over the past month, I have been obsessing over the decision to buy a DSLR that I’ve had my eye on for a while. It’s the Nikon D5100. Every few days I trundle over to the Nikon India website and wonder what is the one thing that will push me to place the order for one. And a couple of lenses while am at, I mean why not, right? Okay, the lens I start with will actually be the kit lens, but no harm in a little daydreaming…It’s not that I cannot afford to buy the camera, I have been saving up money for one. But something is just holding me back from making the commitment. Somebody (my rational voice) is whispering in my ears, what if am just another one of the many untalented enthusiasts toting a fancy piece of equipment? I have looked at some perfect, yet uninspiring stills clicked with high-end cameras and been really, really worried that I may be on the same path myself.As always, common sense dawned upon me a little later, and I realised that I just had to believe I could get to a place where I could be good at photography. I may be far away from that benchmark yet, but I would never get there unless I tried. I have decided to take baby steps, instead of rushing head-on (which I was running away from doing anyway).

Now, I have decided to learn as much as I can both theoretically and practically. Am going to stick with my point-and-shoot Sony Cybershot for the time being. Am going to explore the several buttons, knobs and settings to see what all this little miracle can pull off. At the same time, I have begun to read up, watch videos, look at great photography and dig for pearls of wisdom from the pros.

A few days back I came across this excellent collection of tips from Penny De Los Santos on the National Geographic website – an eternal fount of inspiration. Head over here now if you’d like to learn a few interesting details about how you can bring a plate of food to life. I simply love how every picture tells a story and gives you a glimpse into a new culture. Penny has shared her inspirations and how she feels about her work giving impetus to my desire to fiddle around.

This evening, I baked a batch of banana muffins using a recipe by Kanan from her blog Spice up the Curry. My friend Bhakti who blogs at Lifestylerr.com, recommended this recipe a couple of weeks ago and I was waiting to give them a go. The only change I made to the original recipe is that used the natural sweetness of the bananas and didn’t add any sugar to sweeten up the batter. My muffins came out just like freshly baked muffins should…fluffy, fragrant and divine!

Have I told you how, whenever I cook something new, I have to click pictures of it before I even try it? It is a just-in-case measure. If the dish turns out great and share-worthy, I want to share it with all of you. Must spread the love. Always.

So armed with my newly learned theory about great food photography, I got going and clicked until the sun went down. Here are the results for you to see. And judge. I’d love to know what you think.

 

MIDWEEK TREAT: LOW FAT BROWNIES

I firmly believe that chocolate, ice cream or brownies can fix anything.

A few days ago, I had a super high intensity craving for brownies. Now, I can’t get my hands on any brownies, living where I live. Thankfully, I had on hand all the stuff I needed to bake some and a nice Sanjeev Kapoor recipe too. I improvised a little tossing in some walnuts and adjusting the flour ratio.

Since they turned out pretty yummy, I had to spread the love! So here’s the recipe with some modifications and tips.

Makes about 16 brownies | Prep time: 20 minutes | Cooking time: 25 mins or more


Ingredients

4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup wholewheat flour
3/4 cup refined flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda bicarbonate
3/4 cup caster sugar (Original recipe calls for a cup, but I cut down on it for a less sweeter version)
2 egg whites, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
4 tablespoons oil (Original uses 1 1/2, but I found this makes the brownies too dry and flat)
1 tablespoon butter, melted or a blob will work too
My own little fourish, 1/2 cup of walnuts broken into tiny pieces. Avoid the temptation to chop or bash the walnuts, you will end up with quite a bit of crushed powder.

Method

Preheat your oven to 180 deg C / 350 deg F. Grease an 8 inch square tray or line with butter paper.
Sift the flours, baking powder and soda bicarbonate into a bowl.
Melt the butter over very low heat. Add the cocoa powder to this and slowly stir over the low heat for two minutes. Make sure the mixture doesn’t boil or burn. You can also add some of the milk to this, to prevent the chocolate from burning. Melting the butter and cooking the cocoa powder makes for a better tasting, non-doughy batter.
Beat the caster sugar with the eggs until combined and fluffy.
Divide the flour up into three parts. Start with folding the egg whites and sugar into a portion of the flour. Alternating between dry and wet ingredients mix in the remaining ingredients until everything is well integrated. Be careful not to over beat the mixture. If you’re using an electric blender, keep it to low speeds.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until it’s firm to touch and an inserted knife comes out clean. Leave in the tin until completely cooled.
Use a sharp knife to cut into 16 odd squares and remove from tin using a spatula.

These low fat brownies are a real treat, especially if you have been on a diet. The walnuts add a crunchy texture and crank up the health quotient too. A perfect excuse to stuff face.

They are great as a dessert after a scrumptious lunch or even better as a midnight snack. You can wash them down with some chilled milk.

Have you ever been consumed by a craving so much that you’re willing to do anything to satisfy it?