Wednesday, March 24, 2010

And life goes on... (with the help of cardamom honey chicken)


Well, my brief foray into food styling has been enlightening, to say the least, but it's over now. What did I learn? Well, for starters, it's a lot of work. From sourcing props to deciding on recipes to buying the ingredients and making the dishes, and then at the normal point where you'd plonk the food down in front of a ravenous guest, the real work only begins. Carefully placing bits in bowls, arranging things just so, and then just so, and then just so... I won't even start on the cleaning up.

The second thing I learnt is that having a passion for food and cooking doesn't necessarily translate into a passion for food styling (this may be obvious to most, but it wasn't to me, devout food-porn addict that I am).

I discovered that I crave the instant gratification of being near someone who is eating my food, hearing their appreciation and request for seconds — even if that someone is just me. Or my dog. (I don't have a dog, actually, though I want one desperately. We just don't have time to look after one, and the Giunea Pig is allergic. I don't really know where I'm going with this, so let's just do the written equivalent of averting one's gaze and whistling awkwardly...).

Initially it was novel and exciting, but after a while I began to dread it, and — gasp, horror of horrors — my desire to cook for the simple joy of it began to ebb (as evidenced by my absence from this blog).

And so I'm back — with a recipe! A pretty darned delicious one at that, which I found at Simply Recipes. I styled this dish a few weeks ago — and it tastes as good as it looks (which is saying something, because not a lot of what I styled did).

Cardamom honey chicken
Serves 4 to 6
4 tbsp honey
2 tbsp sherry
1 tsp ground cardamom seeds
1 tsp ground peppercorns
6 chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon, thinly sliced
Sesame seeds, toasted

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. In a saucepan, warm the honey, stir in the sherry, cardamom and peppercorns. Place the marinade and chicken in a large bowl, and stir to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan at medium-high heat. Sear the chicken, skin side down, until golden.
3. Place the lemon slices in a roasting pan. Lay the chicken pieces on top and brush with the marinade. Season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and bake until done, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Pour out the drippings from the pan into a gravy boat for gravy. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the chicken and serve.

This picture was taken for The Publishing Partnership: Life magazine.

POST SCRIPT: I'd like to thank Tracy, Susan and Deryck (who took these pictures) for being so encouraging. This experience has pulled me closer towards myself, and anything that does that can never be considered a waste of time.


  1. I love the cardamom in here. It's not good when you dread doing any part of cooking or blogging but it is nice to see a new post of yours.

  2. The cardamon looks like a tasty addition. I understand what you mean by a class taking the joy out of producing a blog. At the end of the day, I look forward to working on my blog. Rules and restrictions are for me to define, for anyone setting a standard takes the fun out of the creative process. However, I know a food styling class is needed for myself, but what you mentioned is my fear. I don't want my blog to feel like it is work, even though many hours are dedicated to it. I'm glad you're back.

  3. What a fabulous, fabulous recipe! And the photo is gorgeous too. Glad you're back.

  4. I have made the same recipe too!! This is one georgous & tasty combination of apart flavours!!

    Lovely presentation too!

  5. Glad you're back to blogging! Missed you. Chicken looks & sounds fantastic.

  6. Thank you all for your kind words - I should go away more often :-)

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  8. The chicken definitely does have a food porn factor. I am blessed in that I like food and foodstyling, whether I am any good is a personal opinion.

  9. The dish looks great but what I enjoyed most was your writing!
    I love cardamom and especially in my coffee (Turkish, that is) so I would be intrigued to try it with chicken breasts, I bet it wont disappoint

  10. i just came across

    your blog. and boy,

    am i glad i did.

    beautiful recipes.

    especially this

    cardamom chicken.


  11. Hi from Tokyo! I love chicken with lemon and honey... but cardamom I've learnt from your recipe. Thanks for the inviting photos too!!

  12. This looks gorgeous! The mortar reminds me of my growing up so much.

  13. hey Robyn! Food styling is very very hard work. I've quit my job recently and want to try and do it full time and I can tell you that anyone who thinks you just stand around and have a laugh and eat nice food is sadly mistaken. Propping is my worst! I had all the same issues as you have, esp the instant gratification part of not being able to sit down and just tuck in! I've given myself this year to give it a shot. So far so good. Thanks for your blog XX

  14. Cardamoms and honey, that sound tantalizing!

  15. i am crazy for sesame seeds, lemon and cardamom, so this looks like a terrific combination to me. thanks.

  16. Cardamom is my favorite food ever. (I call it a food; spice, schmice.) This way with chicken sounds LOVELY.