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.