Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Let There Be Light

I love Fall.  Its all cozy inside and pretty outside.  The weather gets cooler so I can wear sweaters and cute scarves and leggings and (one of my 3 new pairs of) boots every single day.  I can vote on the football games and eat delicious tailgate food (even if we aren't tailgating).  No one expects you to wear a bathing suit (thank God).  Fall is, just....perfection!

Except, it gets dark much earlier which really cramps my style when trying to photograph food.  I have this bad-ass Nikon DSLR camera and despite its best efforts, it take horrible pictures in my kitchen (clearly the outcome of the photos has nothing to do with MY shortcomings).  Everything looks yellow, which is no bueno.  The color yellow should be reserved for food items like Chardonnay, not short ribs.

So, I did some reading and decided I needed an external flash, or speedlight.  I don't actually know exactly why this little concoction makes such a difference, but it does.  Something about the flash being stronger and the fact that it faces upwards instead of straight ahead, which allows the light to bounce off the ceiling, thus softening it so the photo looks natural.  Or, something like that.

Anyway, my new Nikon SB400 arrived in the mail the other day and I got right to work on practicing using that bad boy.  I love it!  The chicken recipe below was actually prepared by the lovely Lauren, and I can take no credit for how well it turned out.  I was, however, there for moral support and provided the wine.  Do what you do best, eh?

All of these photos were taken indoors, under kitchen lights while it was dark outside.  Not bad!  I still need to work on tweaking some of the camera settings and practice my photoshop skills, but a vast improvement from how we were looking before.  And look how cute my dog is!

Chicken with Farro and Herb Roasted Pistou
Source: Bon Appetit (prepared by Lauren)

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chervil
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 2 1/2-3-lb. chicken, halved, backbone removed
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Farro with Acorn Squash and Kale (recipe below)
Herb Pistou (recipe below)
1 lemon, halved

Whisk 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 Tbsp. chives, and next 7 ingredients in a medium bowl. Divide marinade between 2 (gallon-size) resealable plastic freezer bags. Season chicken with 2 1/2 tsp. salt; place 1 chicken half in each bag. Seal bags, releasing excess air. Chill overnight.

Place bags side by side in a large pot. Add cold water to cover by 2". Heat water over medium heat until an instant-read thermometer registers 150°. Turn off heat, cover, and poach chicken for 50 minutes. Transfer bags to a large bowl of ice water to cool, about 15 minutes. Remove chicken from bags; pat dry.

Preheat oven to 450°. Heat vegetable oil in a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add chicken halves, skin side down, so chicken sits against sides of pan. Cook, moving chicken occasionally for even cooking, until skin is browned all over. Flip chicken and transfer skillet to oven. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°, about 15 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes.
To serve, divide Farro with Acorn Squash and Kale among plates. Place chicken on top of farro. Drizzle 1/4 cup Herb Pistou around farro. Drizzle 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil over each plate. Squeeze lemon halves over chicken. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp. chives over.

Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in same skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic; stir until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Add wine; increase heat to high. Stir until almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add farro and 1/2 cup warm stock mixture. Stir until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Continue cooking, adding broth by 1/2 cupfuls and allowing broth to be absorbed between additions, until farro is tender, about 1 hour.
Add kale, squash, remaining 1 Tbsp. butter, and cheese; stir gently until butter and cheese are melted and vegetables are heated through, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Herb Pistou

1 1/4 cups flat leaf parsley
1 cup fresh chervil leaves
3/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves
kosher salt
1/2 garlic clove
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Blanch herbs in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer herbs to a medium bowl of ice water to cool. Drain. Squeeze dry; chop. Purée herbs, garlic, and 3/4 cup ice water in a blender until smooth, about 3 minutes. With machine running, gradually add oil. Season with salt.

Farro with Acorn Squash and Kale

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 small acorn squash, peeled, halved, seeded, cut into 1/2" cubes
kosher salt, ground pepper
1/2 bunch kale, stems removed, leaves torn
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 cup farro
1/4 diced white onion
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups vegetable stock mixed with 2 cups water, warmed
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375°. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a medium saucepan. Add squash, season lightly with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, turning squash every 10 minutes, until tender, 30-35 minutes.

Cook kale in a large pot of boiling salted water until wilted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool; drain.  Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add farro; toss to coat. Roast in oven until toasted, stirring once, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; wipe out skillet.

1 comment:

  1. Just so everyone knows I didn't use Farro or Chervil because I couldn't find them. I substitude barley (not instant) for the farro and used extra parsley in place of the chervil since it is from the same family. And lastly, I chose not to blanch the kale, I just let it sweat in batches before addintg the last few laddles of stock into the barley.

    I was presently surprised how much I enjoyed the barley kale mix. I have never cooked with either and will definitely be making this dish again at some point.