PASCALE’S KITCHEN: Food photography

The ins and outs of food photography.

Food photography
A few weeks ago, I received an email from photographer Hagit Goren, in which the subject read: “From the Plate to the Mobile.” Goren invited me to a mobile photography workshop in which she would teach people how to take better pictures with their mobile phones.
My curiosity was immediately piqued, since Goren is a well-known food photographer whose pictures have been published in newspapers, magazines and cookbooks.
It’s become popular lately for people to take pictures of the dishes they’ve ordered when they are first brought to the table at restaurants.
Thirty years ago, when I published my first cookbook, Delicacies from North Africa, with photos by Nelli Shefer, it was impossible to publish a book without hiring a professional photographer with expensive equipment.
We would bring the prepared culinary dish into the photography studio and place it on a makeshift table, while somehow making sure the food remained fresh-looking and perfect.
And at the end of a photo shoot, we’d have only five successful pictures on average. Over the years, professional digital cameras became more popular, which were able to sync directly with the computer, and we could make the necessary changes afterward.
While in the olden days you needed to have a chef or food stylist on hand to make improvements during a photo shoot, new innovative computer programs soon took their place, and most changes could now be carried out on the computer.
Food stylist Bella Rudnik joined our session, too, and the three of us shared anecdotes and our own experiences. Over the next four hours, I learned from Goren and Rudnik all the ins and outs of food photography. Here are the recipes for the dishes we photographed together.
The first photograph is of slices of sourdough bread topped with Tzfat cheese and nigella seeds, honey, thyme and figs. Of course, any toppings of your choice can work. The beauty of the photograph lies in its simplicity.
Makes 1 large loaf, or two small loaves 1 cup sourdough starter 1½ cups water 4¼ cups flour, sifted 1½ Tbsp. salt For work surface and lining tray: ¼ cup corn flour + extra flour for work surface Place the sourdough starter in the bowl of an electric mixer and add the water. Mix on low speed with a dough hook for 2 minutes. Add the flour gradually. Mix for 3 minutes and then add the salt. Continue mixing for another 8-10 minutes. Flour a large bowl and place the dough in it. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for 60-90 minutes.
Knead dough well and let out all the air. Form one or two loaves and place them in a basket lined with a cotton cloth and lightly covered with corn flour. Let rise for 5-6 hours.
Cover a pan with baking paper and then sprinkle with a little corn flour. The dough should have doubled in volume. Make 3-4 cuts in top of loaf with a sharp knife. Sprinkle a little flour on top.
Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 250° for 15 minutes.
Lower the temperature to 220° and bake for another 30-40 minutes, or until bread sounds hollow when you tap on the bottom of the loaf.
The second photograph is of a medley of vegetables that have been randomly placed on the plate. Attention should be paid to the combination of colors, and a minimal amount of vegetables should be used so that each individual piece has a presence.
Makes 4 servings 3-4 carrots of various colors 2 red and white turnips Radish and sunflower sprouts Olive oil Kosher salt Clean the vegetables well and then cut them in half or quarters as desired. Arrange them on the baking tray and sprinkle with olive oil and kosher salt. Bake for about 60 minutes until vegetables are soft The third photograph is of apple brioche. The photographer must make sure composition is just right, and that the colors work well to tell the cake’s story.
Makes four 12-cm. cakes Dough: 75 ml. (¹⁄3 cup) milk 100 gr. (½ cup) sugar 15 gr. (2 tsp.) dry yeast 600 gr. (3 cups) flour, sifted 1 Tbsp. salt 6 eggs 300 gr. butter, cut into cubes Filling: 10 Granny Smith apples, sliced 150 gr. sugar 100 gr. butter ½ tsp. cinnamon 50 gr. raisins Toppings: 1 egg, beaten ½ cup powdered sugar To prepare brioche, mix milk, sugar and yeast together in a bowl.
In the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook, mix flour and salt. Add the milk mixture and mix on medium speed. Add the eggs gradually while mixing. Let dough sit in fridge for 30 minutes.
Add butter cubes to dough while mixing on medium speed.
Keep mixing until all butter is mixed in well. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let sit in fridge for at least 3 hours.
To prepare apple filling, arrange apple slices on a lined baking pan and brush with butter. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top.
Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 200° for 20 minutes, until apples are caramelized. Add the raisins and mix.
To prepare the cake, divide the dough into four even sections and roll each section out on a floured work surface. Line each greased tray with dough so that plenty of the dough hangs over edge. Add filling on top of the dough of all four trays. Fold the dough over the top and seal. Put in a warm place and let rise for 90 minutes. Brush with beaten egg and bake in an oven that has been preheated to 150° for 35 minutes or until crust becomes golden.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.