Food Photography & Tomato Candy.
As most of you know, I was eliminated from Project Food Blog. Sigh. Much love to the bloggers who remain. Never one to let a learning opportunity pass by, I’ve decided to tackle the challenges anyway. Challenge #4 asks you to create a tutorial post, a culinary “how-to” comprised of mostly pictures. Here’s mine. Thanks to all who voted – I know I wouldn’t have made it this far without your support.
Years ago I dated a guy who went to the School of Visual Arts in New York. He was a photographer. Most of his work was comprised of gritty urban still life images of graffiti, skyscrapers, bridges. One afternoon he had to visit the studio to shoot some cookies for a class. I figured we’d be in and out in a few minutes.
Two hours later as I watched him adjust the lighting, moves crumbs a millimeter to the left and become increasingly frustrated with his results, I began to understand what a different beast food photography can be. All this before digital photography even existed. We’re talking contact sheets, a magnifying glass, rolls and rolls of film. Hours of work to shoot a cookie. These were the days before Photoshop. Yes, my friends these were the dark ages when all you had was FILM.
It was with much trepidation that I began this challenge. I didn’t want my entry to end up looking like one of those Valpak coupons you get from Joe-Down-the-Street Sandwich Shop. He’s trying to entice you to eat at his joint with a 2 for 1 special, but the photo of his sandwich, instead of making you hungry, just makes you nauseous. It’s not his fault. Food photography is not an Instamatic camera. No point and shoot process here folks. It’s food photography, a whole other animal entirely.
It’s October, but warm enough that we’re getting beautiful tomatoes from our local CSA, Horse and Buggy Produce. So I still get to indulge in my favorite summer pastime – making tomato candy. To you they’re roasted tomatoes. But to me? They’re the chewiest, gummiest, yummiest candy. And the only one I know of that comes from a vegetable.
4-5 Roma tomatoes
Select 4 or 5 good Romas. These work best for candy, but I’ve used all varieties even icky winter grocery store orbs passing themselves off as tomatoes.
Slice your tomatoes about ½-inch thick. I find the thinner slices get gummier, chewier, just all-together “roastier”. After slicing, fill up your ungreased cookie sheet with ‘em. No need to worry about spacing, as long as they’re in a single layer, they’ll roast.
SPRINKLE SEA SALT
Sprinkle salt fairly liberally over each slice. I use sea salt because it imparts flavor, but not so much saltiness (if you use sea salt you know what I’m talking about). If using regular salt, use less.
SET IN OVEN
Set them in the oven with the temperature at 200 degrees. The tomatoes will roast for approximately 3-4 hours. Low and slow is the key here. I use a convection roast setting on my oven and can get a good batch of candy in 3 hours. Hint: If you set a few cloves of garlic on the sheet as well, they roast up nicely and are GREAT on bread, in pasta, on pizza….
SLEEP, SIT, SKYPE, SITUPS
(Gratuitous cute dog picture alert! Thank you Jacque Bentley Photography)
What other things start with “S”? ;D Find something to do while they roast away. Turning into little chewy gems of yummy gummy goodness.
Scrape them off the cookie sheet carefully with a spatula, trying not to suck every one of them into your mouth as you go. Seriously, this is the hardest step. I’ve been known to roast a whole batch of tomatoes only to have Hubby arrive home to an empty cookie sheet. They’re *that* good.
SLAP AND STREW
Is strew a word? Anyway, these babies are yummy slapped on pizza, strewn through pasta, or slid onto a salad. My favorite way lately is to chop them and strew them through rigatoni mixed with goat cheese, basil, and sautéed swiss chard. Yum. Do I love me some tomato candy? You betcha!