So, I've decided that the weakest part of this blog is the photography. I read a lot of food blogs, and pretty much all of them seem to have the most amazing photographs. They can't all be professional photographers, right? So what the hell am I doing wrong? After much comparison I've come to the conclusion that it's my camera. All the photos I like have this cool dual-contrast thing going on where the food in the foreground is lovely and sharp but everything in the background is out of focus. My camera doesn't seem to do that, you just point and click. Although, I will confess that I never RTFM, so it's entirely possible that my camera does, in fact, do that, but I just have it set to Tomy My First Camera mode. Perhaps it's time to start playing around with it a bit.
Another thing that has become clear to me over the course of this blog is how difficult it is to shoot brown (for want of a better word) food in a way that makes it look at all appetising. This will become all too obvious in the next few minutes. Food stylists and photographers must be crapping themselves when they're hired to do a curry cookbook.
Lastly, it has become increasingly clear to me that there is a definite trade-off to be had between styling your food and photographing it well, and actually eating your dinner while it's still hot. At the moment, the gourmand in me wins out every time, but that may change over time, we'll see.
And so, to last night's impossible-to-photograph-appealingly dinner:
Venison & Puy Lentil Casserole - serves 2
6 venison sausages 150g puy lentils, rinses & drained
2 pints chicken or veg stock 150ml red wine
2 onions, chopped 150g bacon lardons
2 tbs fresh sage, chopped 2 tbs fresh rosemary, chopped
1. In a large casserole, brown the sausages lightly in a little olive oil. Add the onions, lardons, sage & rosemary and cook for 5 minutes. Deglaze the dish with the red wine, making sure to scrape up any nice burnt-y bits from the bottom. Turn off the heat & cover.
2. At the same time, have the lentils boiling in the stock. When they begin to soften, drain them & reserve the cooking liquid. Add the lentils to the casserole with about 200ml of the stock.
3. Cover the casserole and bake in the middle of an oven preheated to 140C for two hours. Check it every 45 minutes or so to make sure it's not drying out - add a little more of the reserved stock if it looks like it is.
4. At the end of cooking, season with lots of black pepper, but no salt (the stock & bacon are salty enough). Serve on its own or with a big dollop of creamly, garlickly mash. It's also excellent with green beans.
You'll be seeing lots of casseroles and hot-pots off me over the coming weeks, as the autumn draws in and the evenings get shorter. I'll be shot for saying this, but I really look forward to this time of year, and can't wait to light the fire for the first time.
Today's Top Tip: Don't waste money buying expensive binoculars. Simply stand closer to the object you wish to view.