Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Point and Shoot

I am just a point and shoot photographer. In fact, I shrink away at the thought of being called a photographer at all. I use my simple (and inexpensive) Canon PowerShot A550 to snap quick pictures of the food that I prepare. I have no fancy equipment, my props are my napkins and flatware, and I after the camera is put away, I actually eat what is on my plate.

I have always said that my main focus is the food, and the photos are just an afterthought. However, today I had to admit that there has been a slight shift in my focus. I cook a lot. I average 4 or 5 new (to me) recipes a week, but my posts here are limited to those dishes for which I have photos. I think that a visual is important to convey the appeal of the recipe. People eat first with their eyes.

And so, today it was 3pm and I found myself preparing dinner. No, we were not going to become a part of the Early Bird Diners Club. It was a beautiful, sunshiny day, and I wanted to take advantage of the good light to photograph a Cooking Light recipe that had made it to tonight's menu. I knew that we wouldn't eat until at least 6pm, if not later, but I thought that the meal could easily be reheated. I was crossing the line of having the meal be my focus. Photos were moving up in my priorities.

Some would argue that this shift is perfectly acceptable in my winter tundra. Lighting suitable for photography (at least the photography that I practice) is gone by 4:30pm. If I want to share the heartier meals that are usually reserved for dinner, I must compensate and compromise. I am not sure. Even if my reasoning is for a good cause, is it OK to let the photos sneak ahead of the food? Or, have they? We still savored a rich, but vibrant meal, even though it was reheated. The food did not go to waste, and Hubby has already claimed the leftovers for his breakfast in the morning. I guess that I am not going to fuss about it. Pointing and shooting my camera at the plated food has become as much of a part of meal preparations as chopping, stirring, and simmering. It is still about the food.

And, speaking of food...Gnocchi with Chicken Sausage, Bell Pepper, Onions, and Fennel was the dish that lured me to the kitchen this afternoon. It truly was worth the effort, although it wasn't difficult to prepare at all. We have a favorite spinach and garlic chicken sausage purchased from Sam's Club that are incredible. Paired with the bright, but earthy flavors of red peppers, fennel, and onions, it is all a good balance with the hearty potato dumplings and just the hint of Asiago cheese. To reheat the dish, I saved another 1/2 cup or so of the pasta water and added that to the ingredients and brought to a simmer before adding just a bit more grated cheese. It worked perfectly and if Hubby hadn't witnessed the early prep, he never would have known. Even after an early point and shoot session, Gnocchi with Chicken Sausage, Bell Pepper, Onions, and Fennel is a winner On My Plate.

Gnocchi with Chicken Sausage, Bell Pepper, Onions, and Fennel

1 (16-ounce) package vacuum-packed gnocchi
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
6 ounces chicken sausage, casing removed and sliced (I used 3 sausages)
1 cup thinly sliced fennel
1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1/2 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cook the gnocchi according to package directions.
Drain the gnocchi in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid.
Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Add sausage to pan; saute 3 minutes or until lightly browned.
Remove sausage from skillet using a slotted spoon.
Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in pan.
Add fennel, bell pepper, and onion to pan; cook 13 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
Add sausage, gnocchi, cheese, black pepper, and reserved cooking liquid to pan; cook 1 minute or until cheese melts, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat; stir in parsley. (Serves 4)


  1. As a fellow point-n-shooter I want to say bravo. It looks tasty and pleasantly simple.

    And 4 or 5 new recipes a week?! I don't know where you find the time to keep experimenting like that.

  2. Actually Gnocchi are relatively easy to make too. After living in Italy for 6 years of course I learned. I think they actually have a much better flavor being homemade - and of course I learned how to put the creative ridges in them too, which really makes them AUTHENTIC!!!! LOL


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