Andrew Scrivani is an amazing food photographer. His photos regularly appear in publications like The New York Times. The food he shoots looks so good that you really wish it was in front of you to eat. I just finished his online class that I purchased through Craftsy at a great price. I I realized that the photos I’ve been taking don’t have any contrast in light. Previously I was trying to get bright colorful photos, but as a result lost the beauty that highlights and shadows add. I’m taking a new approach to my food photography with some of the tidbits I’ve learned from Andrew. I still have a ton to learn, but hopefully if you read the blog regularly, you’ll see my progress over the past few weeks. I’d love to hear about any food photography resources you’ve found useful.
For this week’s recipe I’ve created a fresh salad using beets, mandarin oranges, fennel, arugula and horseradish. Horseradish in its raw state has a very assertive flavor similar to wasabi. I remembered an interesting food tip from Marcus Samuelsson that the flavor of horseradish mellows when cooked. He used to serve a baked horseradish-crusted salmon at Aquavit. The first time I tested my recipe I roasted the grated horseradish but this led to uneven cooking. Instead, I fried it and the result was a crispy, nutty, subdued horseradish flavor that was a perfect topping for the salad. It adds a little heat and crunch. If your enticed by the salad but prefer not to take extra step of frying the horseradish, add a few teaspoons of it raw to the vinaigrette instead.
Nut oils can be expensive but only a small amount is needed to add a new dimension of flavor to dishes. This salad will taste great without it, but the flavors are enhanced by the addition of the pecan oil. It may seem like an odd place to buy groceries, but I found my toasted pecan oil at Marshall’s for $10 less than it is sold for at the grocery store. Score!
- 1 bunch beets
- 1 cup fresh horseradish peeled and grated
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1/8 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil + extra for roasting beets
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 3 mandarin oranges peeled and segmented
- 1 larger fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
- 3 cups arugula
- Pecan or walnut oil (optional)
- Peel the beets and cut each into 6-8 wedges. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast on a sheet pan in a 400 degree oven for 35-40 minutes until tender. Turn beets over once during cooking. Set aside to cool.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a smaller (1 1/2 quart) saucepan to 350 degrees. Fry the horseradish in two batches until it browns just slightly, about 60-90 seconds. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate using a slotted spoon.
- Whisk the vinegar, olive oil and dijon mustard in a small bowl until combined.
- Add the beets, mandarins, fennel and arugula to a bowl. Toss with the dressing. Season with salt and pepper.
- Plate the salad and drizzle with a little bit of the nut oil.
- Sprinkle on the crispy horseradish.