It’s been a few weeks since my last post. I’ve been working on a few recipes that need some fine tuning and definitely some planning for when it comes to plating. Some food can be plated easily, like pasta for example. This dish I’m working on is a pasta dish, but it does not look pretty on the plate, I’ve tried a couple of ideas, nothing has worked… hopefully I can figure it out and post it soon. It is really good, and I’m not just saying that, oysters and pasta, in a Pernod and green peppercorn sauce… yeah, you can see where this is going. Lately I’ve been cooking a lot of meat using my immersion circulator and I figured I would show signs of activity by posting this awesome Sous Vide Rib Eye Steak before I go back in the lab and experiment some more with this Pernod sauce (there’s a real fairy in the bottle btw). Another problem I’ve been facing lately is related to photography.
I usually do all the photography using a flash unit, and bounce surfaces (the white walls of my kitchen mostly) but since I moved to this new apartment, I haven’t been able to recreate similar lighting conditions (walls aren’t white), and the photos turn harsh and contrasty, with unappetizing highlights and strange white balance issues. I’m still working on how to sort this out, I have bought some reflectors and diffusers, but still photos are coming out looking… bad. Luckily for me, in Vancouver, the sun sets around 9pm during the spring/summer, so I have plenty of natural light coming through the windows, and nothing better than sun light for photography. If I could take all my photos using sunlight I would, but I usually cook at night. Anyways, today, rib eye steak it is!
Ingredients (2 servings):
2 3/4-1 inch rib eye steaks
1 tbs garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
maldon salt to garnish
2 medium zucchinis
1 medium egg plant
1 red bell pepper
2 small shallots
2 garlic cloves
1 1/2 tbs tomato paste
2 thyme sprigs
1 rosemary sprig
1/2 C Vermouth
1 tbs wine vinegar
Navy Bean Puree:
1 C rinsed navy beans
1 Tbsp melted butter
1 tbs White vine vinegar
1 tbs EVO
1 Tbsp heavy cream
Salt to taste
Madeira BBQ Sauce:
1/4 C madeira wine
Beef jus (from the cooking)
1/4 dijon mustard
1 tsp tomato paste
1 garlic clove
Splash of heavy cream
Steak fond (from searing the steak)
salt and pepper to taste.
The rib eye steaks. Season each steak generously with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Place the steaks in sealable ziplock bags or pouches for vacuum sealing. Vacuum seal or remove the air out of the ziplock bags using the water displacement method, which is what i ended up doing, I don’t have a vacuum sealer here in Vancouver. You could pan sear or grill the steaks as well, but if you are curious about sous vide, you should try it. And if you have, you probably don’t need any convincing. Set the immersion circulator or water bath to 55C-131F (medium rare) for about 30-45 minutes. Rib eye is a very tender cut, doesn’t require long cooking times. You can store the pouches in the fridge while you move on to the next components. When ready, you can reheat the pouches in the water bath (if you kept your water bath going), if searing doesn’t bring the core temperature up, place in a warm oven (250F) for about 10 minutes. Practice makes perfect and a thermometer is your best weapon in the kitchen after that nice and sharp chef knife.
The Ratatouille. Thinly slice all the veggies. I sliced everything lengthwise about 1mm thickness. On a medium size shallow pan, add some olive oil. Over medium high heat, add the thyme and rosemary sprigs, the peppers and the shallots and cook stirring from time to time, for about 7 minutes or until translucent. Add some salt. Add the tomato paste and the rest of the veggies. Cook for another 7 minutes or until soft. When the liquid has dried and the veggies just about starting to roast, add the vermouth and the vinegar to deglaze. And cook until the liquid is almost entirely evaporated. Add some chopped parsley. Adjust seasoning, and acidity. Reserve.
The navy bean puree. Soak the beans overnight, or a couple of hours before using them. Simmer in plain water until tender. About 40 minutes. In a food processor, add the rest of the ingredients and puree until very soft. The consistency should be that of a potato puree. Adjust seasoning. Blend some more if necessary.
Madeira BBQ sauce. For this step, since this is a quick pan sauce, we will need to sear the steaks to develop fond. Which calls for a stainless steel sautee pan. I’ve found my cast iron pans don’t develop as much fond but it’s also a good alternative. Heat up some vegetable oil or ghee on high heat and carefully add the steaks right when the oil starts to smoke (if you can time it so they hit the pan just before the oil starts to smoke, then even better). Allow to sear for a minute or so on each side until golden brown. Remove the steaks form the pan. Discard cooking oil. Return the pan to the stove. Add the madeira wine and deglaze the pan, scraping the fond loose. Add the garlic and the rest of the ingredients. Reduce until bubbly and thick. Adjust seasoning. If too thick, you can always add some water or cream. Reserve.
Plating. Add the bean puree first. Top with some of the ratatouille. Add the madeira sauce. Cut up the meat and place over the sauce. Finish with parsley and some maldon salt crystals.
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Hi Paul! During winter I have the same photography lighting problems as you, my kitchen bounces off all the wrong lightings and shadows and whiteness (or lack of) goes berserk. My camera has various functions of fixing the white balance, but my kitchen light is so weird and yellow that the different functions do end up looking artificial too. You’re making me feel like I really must learn to do sous vide (or I feel a tad silly for not knowing how to do it). This steak looks delicious cooked like this. Cheers!
Thank you Sofia! I’m glad you’re feeling curious about it, it is really easy and the results are worth the extra work. My kitchen has halogen and tungsten lights, so no one white balance setting works, I turn all the lights off when shooting with my flash, which mean I do most of my work in almost pitch black. The focus assist on my flash is all I have to get proper focus. But in this new apartment, the walls being grey, brown cabinets, and a big mirror close to the countertop, messes everything up. I gotta come up with some setup that isn’t too expensive and doesn’t get in the way of cooking.
I haven;t even tried the flash with my camera. When I began my blog I was using an old camera and used the flash a few times, until I realised it was the worst thing I could do. I haven’t tried this one, perhaps its softer and better or something. Haha your current kitchen sounds as complicated as mine to shoot! Some people use props to reflect the white light. I haven’t tried that (still too advanced for me, lol). But maybe you food try! I bet that mirror does mess things up.
I use a speedlite flash on my canon, which you can orient and point in any direction. I bounce it off white boards, of white walls when I have them, but here, I don’t have any and the reflectors I bought don’t seem to be enough. I have to study this a bit more carefully. And yes, those flash units that come with some cameras, the fixed ones… those aren’t really adequate… not even close! 🙂 although, i have to say, sometimes, when taking some photos in day light, they can come in handy by adding some fill light.. but that’s about it.
You’ve convinced me, I’ll continue to not try my flash 🙂 It’s easy to not use – not even accidentally – because it’s one of those that you need to pop it out like with vintage cameras 🙂 Maybe you could get a white board and put it to one side to bounce it from there.
Yeah, direct flash, isn;t always the best approach but there are exceptions and I can’t think of one right now 🙂 I gotta get a white board for sure!
Paul, This is truly a meal fit for a king. I can’t decide which element is my favorite; each luscious and flavorful and seem to complement the others. I admire your dedication to beautiful photos, excellent lighting and immaculate plating; one of the reasons you have a superb blog. Happy cooking & Vancouver dwelling to you!
Shanna! than you!!! 🙂 My favorite was the bean puree if you ask me, adding a touch of acidity to it worked really well, and the veggies were pretty tasty as well. I think the sauce could use some work, but I was having a tough time yesterday getting in the zone with the cooking, the result of me not prepping and wanting to rush through… never rush cooking I have to remind myself of! Working fast is one thing, but trying to cut corners usually ends up in disaster 🙂
I think any disaster was avoided. I’m glad you were able to share the post, even if the sauce was not Paul-Perfect (translation: damn good). 🙂 I think it’s definitely more relaxing to cook when ingredients are prepped – easier to focus and less clean-up. I love any purée with beans, especially white beans!
You’re always so nice Shanna 🙂 thank you! And I agree, white beans, pureed and seasoned… omg
Or, even simply prepared with a drizzle of truffle oil? 🙂 Though I know there is a foodie divide surround the stuff…
hahah, yeah, there’s a big debate about this oil… some chef love it, others love to hate it… I think the issue is related to the fact that some (if not most) truffle oils are synthetic… and truffles were never used. In any case, the smell is delicious 😉
I have a tiiiiiiiiiiiiny bottle of real, authentic black truffle oil from Italy. It was a gift – I gasp at the price. 🙂
yeah?? 🙂 what’s the brand, i doubt mine is the real deal… but have to check, it is a tiny bottle too hahah
One more excellent creation, Paul! Totally agree with Shanna- the royal meal :D, everything is perfect: well-seared steak, puree and great photos!
you’re too nice Mila! thank you! I hope you’re doing well! I so glad you liked the post 🙂
Welcome back, Paul! Another great post. If that dish tastes half as good as it looks, it’s delicious. Your photography and plating is always outstanding, no matter what the lighting conditions. I know just what you mean, and often have to use Lightroom to correct the worst. For me natural light makes it harder as it throws many irregular shadows. I had to look up what navy beans are.
Stefan! glad you stopped by 🙂 thank you! I know, it’s been a while, and it might seem like I’m losing interest, but I’m not, I cook everyday, but have refrained from posting a few meals just because of the lighting issues. When using natural light, I have to go on a tripod, since I’m only using very diffuse sun light, sun coming through window shade or through a diffuser (white cloth), so there’s no way I can get a steady grip since the exposure times are well above 1/30 sec, and that slows me down quite a bit. And I end up eating my meal cold hahahah, or whats worse, reheated in the microwave. I have to figure out the flash setup so I can go back to posting more often, or get a better tripod, mine drives me crazy! 🙂
I would never post anything if I were to hold myself to your high standard of photography. My lense has built-in “optical steady shot” that works quite well. I shoot everything without a tripod as that would be in the way too much.
I don’t post many recipes for photography issues, I really enjoy both cooking and photography, so it’s a bit of a compromise sometimes. With the proper flash setup, the workflow is pretty quick, and I can easily document the process and the final dish, and still be able to enjoy a warm meal. I think your photos are beautiful and every recipe you output is really well supported by the images and your writing. Every time I have a question about Italian cuisine and authenticity, I go to your site. Take care!
Stunning. Nice to see you back. I’ve been meaning to make a ratatouille for a while now. This doesn’t look too hard. Your plating is gorgeous and the meat looks PERFECT. That sauce looks so appetizing. Wonderful.
thank you, Amanda!!! Really glad you enjoyed the post, and I hope. Hopefully your ratatouille turns out great! Roasting veggies in a pan with some olive oil is always rewarding and takes like 5 minutes 🙂 I made batches of this, and I’m having some with roasted chicken for lunch!
Incredible! It looks so good!!!!!!!!
thanks Lotis! I’ll it this for when you come visit!
Your photos are always stunning, Paul. But I completely understand your frustration. I wish sunlight lasted until 9 PM here!
thank you Patty! 🙂 your photos are always beautiful. A note about my lighting situation. So, I’ve been shooting in indirect sunlight inside my apartment, but there has to be some sort of coating on the windows because there an strong blue cast on all my photos that is hard to correct. I can’t see it, but the camera picks it up very well…. which isn’t helping 🙂 anyways, last night I tested a new lighting setup with my flashlight and things are looking up! Hope to post soon, take care Patty!
Eek, blue color casts are no fun! Have you tried adjusting the white balance on your camera? I’m glad you’re figuring out a new lighting setup! Can’t wait to see your next post!
Patty, I shoot everything in RAW format. The white balance I process after the photos are taken to have total control. But if the cast color is too strong, it’s hard to color correct. I did find a better white balance after Sofia pointed out that the color was a little strange. I should have looked at the photos with fresh eyes the next day before posting, sometimes I trust photoshop more than I trust my eye 🙂 I have the setup ready, and I should be posting something soon!
I shoot RAW as well and use Lightroom to process my photos. I’m looking forward to your next post!