Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cream of White Turnip Soup

Cream of White Turnip Soup
© All rights reserved, Thorsten Kraska, 2010

White Turnip (German: Speiserübe, Mairübchen, Teltower Rübchen, French: Navet) were a very common vegetable in past. They were discovered again here in German and you now can get the different varieties again. The taste of White turnips remind a bit of cabbage turnip (Kohlrabi) and radish with a delicate sweet touch. Together with potatoes they make a nice and easy to make Cream of White Turnip Soup.

Cream of White Turnip Soup
(4-6 servings)

500g white turnips
400g floury potatoes
1 leek
4 tablespoons butter
800ml vegetable broth
100g Creme Fraiche (sour creme)
salt and pepper to taste
nutmet to taste
For garnish: Pumpkin seed oil (or walnut oil)

Peel white turnips and potatoes and cut into pieces. Clean leek and cut into rings (use only the white part). Heat butter in a suited pot and add turnips, potatoes and leek and cook for a minute or two but don't let brown. Add the vegetable broth and a bit of salt. Let cook until the vegetables are soft (depending on size this will need between 15 to minutes). When vegetables are soft puree the vegetables with a hand blender. Mix in the Creme Fraich but do not let cook again. If the soup is too thick add some water. Add salt and pepper to taste. At last add some nutmeg powder.
Garnish the soup with a few drops of pumpkin seed oil (you can also use other oils like walnut oil or even truffle oil).
For some greenery you can use the green part of the leek. Cut it into small rings and blanch them for a few seconds, so that they get soft) Add some leek rings on top of the soup.
Serve with some white bread.

You can serve it in smaller cups for a nice starter soup (then you will have around 6 servings) or in larger bowls (around 4 servings)

Monday, January 25, 2010

An apple a day...

... keeps the doctor away, I know. But it is also giving me the chance to talk about food photography and conceptional ideas. I have bought two different apple varieties on our local market (Belle de Boskoop, Braeburn). I started with a still using Boskoop apples.

Boskoop Apples
© All rights reserved, Thorsten Kraska, 2010

The basic idea was to use a random looking arrangement of Boskoop apples, but using one single center apple as the focal point. From the apples I used one which combines the most typical characteristics of the batch. Around this center apple I arrange different ones showing different chrarctristics, e.g. different color (a deep red or bright red in upper right, a green one in upper left or an orange one in lower left). To make the single center apple the dominant point in this photo, no other apple is touching this one and around it is some free space. And I used a very shallow Depth of Field (80mm/f 2.8 tilt-shift lens, with an extreme tilting of about 10° to reduce Depth of field even more).

An apple a day
© All rights reserved, Thorsten Kraska, 2010

In this second shot I used a slightly lower angle and a closer view to emphazise the ascending diagonal line more. Although this diagonal is also used in the upper one, the tighter cropping and lower angle is forcing it more. Especially because the three apples in upper left making a line in same direction. And the three apple cropped on far right are doing the same. Although I didn't change the arrangement, the effect is bgetting obvious here by just two little changes.

Another apple a day - better take two
© All rights reserved, Thorsten Kraska, 2010

In this photo, using Braeburn Apples, I have used a similar idea, but varied it. First, the apples are looking more or less the same. But the center (single) apple is used too. I used a slightly wider Depth of Field (and no tilting) at 70mm/F 3.5. I wanted a very bright impression so I used a fill light from lower left and from left side with the main light (natural light from a window) from upper right. The apple in lower right gets another fill light from lower right to reduce shadows here.
Composition wise I have used the descending diagonal line here mainly created by the only two apples which are not cropped. The upper right I filled with apples, so that they build a kind of triangular shape, where the diagonal line is one side. At first there was no apple in lower left. I introduced one to break an otherwise too stiff composition.

Braeburn Apples
© All rights reserved, Thorsten Kraska, 2010

Here I have forced the diagonal line as the main element. The line is created by the two apples like in the other and the apples in upper left and lower right corner. But the two apples behind the line are now emphazising the diagonal again. This is mainly do to the fact that I have removed the other apple in uupper right and the one on left side. And I changed the lighting. Just a very reduced fill light from lower left, the apples in upper left were shaded a bit, so that the center apple is the brightes spot in this photo. The effect is enhanced, because of the focal plain being on this apple. And you can see here the effect of the fill light on lower right apple. Whereas the apple is showing shadows here, in the former one the shadows are reduced obviousely. With a more hard light from upper right as compared to the smooth light before, there are some good shadows which are supporting the diagonal line.

So with two apple varieties and different ideas you can vary your composition and play with different elements in your photo: color, element characteristics (color, structure, shape), light, arrangment, angle, depth of field. Sometimes not much is required to change the composition and the effect it will have on the viewer.

...on the process
Between the first two photos and the last two photos was a time of one week, where I thought about how to change the setting or what to make different. The main idea was how to structure the photo (arrange the apples). In the first two I was using the ascending diagonal line, but the "many" apples cover the diagonal line a bit. In the last two I have tried to make this line more obvious. I also like the differences between the two diagonal line and how viewer's react to it. The diagonal line from lower left to upper right (ascending line) create a feeling of going upwards, going away into the back, moving away. The diagonal line from upper left to lower right (descending) is often associated with a movement towards the viewer, going downward. Often this line has an "inviting" character and in food photography it could be associated with "serving something to the viewer". I think especially in the 3rd shot with the brighter apple in focus this is to recognize (at least for me)

If you like this, you may like this one too:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Brussel Sprouts Curry

Hot brussel sprouts curry with Azuki Beans
© All rights reserved, Thorsten Kraska, 2010

This is a more unusual combination in a vegetable curry: brussel sprouts in a combination with small red beans (Azuki Beans). The sharpness of the curry is complemented by the sweetness of dried apricots. Mango Chutney adds another certain sweet sharpness. Use your favorite curry as mild or as hot as you like it. You could also increase the amount of curry to your liking.

Brussel Sprouts Curry
(serves 4)

900g brussel sprouts
80g Adzuki Beans (Azuki Beans, small red beans)
50g dried apricots (quartered)
1 onion (cut into small pieces)
2 tablespoons Ghee
2 tablepoons curry powder
400mL vegetable broth
1 cinnamon stick (5cm long)
2 tablespoons mango chutney
100g yogurt
salt and pepper to taste

Let soak Azuki Beans in water overnight. Next day: pour into a sieve. Set aside.

Clean brussel sprouts (remove outer leaves, cut the stems crosswise). Cook brussel sprouts for about 5 minutes in boiling salt water. Pour into a sieve and rinse brussels sprouts with cold water. Set aside.

Heat Ghee in a suited pot and add onions and coook until translucent. Add curry powder and cook for about one minute. Add broth and Azuki Beans and cook for 45 minutes. Add brussel sprouts and cinnamon and let cook for another 15 minutes or until brussel sprouts are soft. Add apricots, mango chutney and yogurt and let cook on low heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with rice or bread.

Brussel Sprouts Curry
© All rights reserved, Thorsten Kraska, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

Lamb Mincemeat Curry

Hot and comforting
© All rights reserved, Thorsten Kraska, 2010

This Lamb Mincemeat Curry is not made with a commercial curry powder. Fresh black cardamom, fennel, cloves and cinnamon make this curry and the spices fill the air during cooking. Raisins add a sweet touch. And with red chili and ginger you can make it as hot as you like it. The dish is completed with mint jogurt and some fresh bread or rice. Found the recipe a while ago in a monthly food journal and adaptit to my liking

Lamb Mincemeat Curry with Mint Jogurt
(serves 4)
900g Lamb Mincemeat
6 small onions (should make around 200g)
2 carrots
1 piece fresh ginger (50g)
2 red chiles (less, if you like it mild; more, if you like it hot)
500mL vegetable stock
300mL - 500mL water
12 black cardamom pods
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon grounded cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato puree
50g raisins
6-8 sprigs fresh mint (peppermint)
greek jogurt (10% fat)

Open the black cardomom pods, remove the seeds and ground them in a mortar with a pistil. Ground the fennel seeds. Add grounded cloves and cinnamon and set aside. Cut onions, carrots and fresh ginger into small pieces. Cut chiles into rings (if you don't like it too hot, remove the seeds).

Preheat oil in a suited pot. Add lamb mincemeat and roast until slightly browned. Add spices and roast for another minute with mincemeat. Add onions, carrots, chiles and ginger and cook for another minute or two.

Add tomato puree and mix into mincemeat mixture. Add vegetable stock and 300 mL water. Mix and dissolve the pan drippings. Add two sprigs mint and salt to taste. Let cook on low heat for 75 minutes. You may add more water if the curry is getting too dry. After 75 minutes add the raisins and let cook for another 15 minutes.

Chop some mint sprigs and add them to jogurt. As rule of thumb use the leaves of two sprigs for 150g yogurt. Mix yogurt and add salt to taste. Set aside.

Before serving season the curry to taste with salt and pepper. Add chopped mint leaves to garnish the curry. Serve the curry in a bowl with the yogurt on the side and some bread. If you like you can serve the curry also with cooked rice.