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Salted Rumpsteak and Roasted Potatoes with Chimchurri Sauce

24 May 2012 10 Comments

In an effort to improve my photography, I am participating in the Donna Hay Styling & Photography Challenge 2012, hosted by Simone at JungleFrog Cooking. Simone is an incredible food photographer herself, and this is one way she helps the rest of us try to get better.

Each month, Simone selects a recipe from the Donna Hay magazine. Then, participants attempt to recreate the photo as closely as possible.

The Challenge

This month’s challenge gave us a choice of two images – Salted Rump Steak and Roasted Potatoes with Chimichurri Sauce (photos by Ben Dearnley). We could choose to recreate either recipe, or both. Here are the images we had to choose from:

Salted Rump Steak

Salted Rumpsteak from Donna Hay Magazine. Photo by Ben Dearnley.

Roasted Potatoes with Chimichurri Sauce

Roasted Potatoes with Chimichurri Sauce from Donna Hay Magazine. Photo by Ben Dearnley.










My Results

As you can see, two very delicious looking pictures with lots of interesting textures, props and lighting. I had serious doubts my feeble photography skills could even come close!

But, I persevered. I decided to do the steak picture, since I have a round pizza stone that looks much like the stone in the picture. I don’t have anything even remotely like that rack the potatoes are in, so I wrote that one off right off the bat (well, the picture. Of course, I made the potatoes anyway. Yum!).

Making the recipes was quick and easy (my notes about the recipes are below the recipes,at the bottom of this post).  Setting up the pictures – not so much.

I didn’t have anything like that marble-y looking background, so at first I just set my stone on my wooden kitchen table. A couple of shots immediately showed that that totally changed the whole color and feel of the shot.  I pondered  for a while, trying to find something to use as a background. Finally, I realized that my kitchen floor was about as close as I was going to come! So, I pushed the table out of the way, and moved the whole thing to the floor.

One major obstacle was the size of my baking stone, which is much larger than the stone in the original picture. This meant that my skewers were shorter than the stone (instead of longer), and if I just put the steak on there, it left too much stone all the way around. So, I moved everything on to the stone. That worked fairly well, I thought. Not exactly like the original, but close enough for government work.

After much tweaking and moving and cursing and trying to get a clean, clear, directly overhead shot without a tall tripod, I finally ended up with this picture. I tried my darnedest to get that little oil ring next to the jar of chimichurri, but the stone just sucked it up too fast. After the fact, I now notice that I’ve got the knife in the completely wrong place. But here’s the kicker – I was fussing so much with the steak and the chimichurri sauce and the knife and all that – I totally forgot to put the potatoes in the second jar!!

Salted Rump Steak

Salted Rumpsteak from Donna Hay Magazine. Photo by Ben Dearnley.

Salted Steaks

Salted Steaks photo by Valerie Williams










I still cannot believe I did that. Sigh. What a dork.

Oh well. For a first try, I think it came out pretty well and I certainly learned a lot, which is, of course, the point! The biggest lesson? I need to spend a lot more time before hand thinking about how I want my pictures to look and styling the whole thing. Usually I’m so rushed trying to get a decent shot before the food gets cold, that my pictures come out kinda lame. Huge opportunities for improvement! This was a fun and interesting exercise and I’m looking forward to the next challenge.


The Recipes

Salted Steaks

Salted Steaks

Adapted from Salted Rumpsteak, Donna Hay Magazine.


  • 2 boneless ribeye steaks
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • black pepper


Thread the steak onto metal skewers and rub both sides with olive oil. Place on a baking tray and cover completely with salt. Place in the fridge for 1 hour.

Lightly rinse with running water to remove the salt, pat dry, then sprinkle with pepper. Heat a grill pan or BBQ over high heat. Add the skewers and cook for 7 minutes each side for medium rare or until cooked to your liking. Serve with the chimichurri saue (see below)


I don't know if the salting really achieved anything, but the steaks were delicious and easy to make. I actually grilled my steaks, then finished them in the oven because they were very thick.



Roasted Potatoes with Chimchurri Sauce

Adapted from Roasted Potatoes with Chimichurri Sauce, Donna Hay Magazine


  • 1 pound russet potatoes (or other starchy potato), chopped into bite size chunks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped oregano
  • 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil


Preheat oven to 425 F. Place the chopped potato into a large saucepan of cold water over high heat and bring to the boil. Add salt to taste. Cook for 10 minutes or until the potato is just tender.

Drain, returning potatoes to the pan and cook for an additional minute to remove excess moisture. Shake the pan to fluff the potato. Pour potatoes out onto a baking tray, drizzle with the olive oil, and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 40-45 minutes or until crisp and golden. Serve the potatoes with the chimichurri sauce.


To make the chimichurri sauce, place the parsley, oregano, rosemary, paprika, chilli flakes, garlic, bay leaf, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix to combine. Set aside.


This was an easy and yummy way to get potatoes with a crispy outer shell. My boyfriend, who is usually lukewarm about potatoes, loved them.

The chimichurri sauce is delicious and would be great on almost anything!


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  • Paloma said:

    It looks great! Great job! I see the faults that you mentioned just because you mentioned them! It is certainly a beautiful shot! You did a great job! :)

    Paloma. (Fellow Cake Slice Baker)
    Paloma´s last blog post ..A Birthday Pie!

  • Simone said:

    Yay! You made the steak!! So glad you joined in this months challenge Valerie as I think it was a challenging one for sure. And sorry for taking so long to approve the link but it shows up now.
    I love the finished photo you made as it is in many ways pretty similar to the original ( and hey who misses those potatoes right?)
    A few notes in regards to the lighting. I think you’re image is a tiny bit underexposed which makes it a little harder to see the meat properly against the dark background. In the original there is also a bit more shine on the meat making it a little more ‘alive’ so to speak. I do love how you placed it all as it’s pretty good!! So well done on a tricky challenge and hope to see you again next month!
    Simone´s last blog post ..Brioche or the eternal yeast struggle…

  • Digigirl said:

    Thanks for the critique Simone! I definitely have a long way to go, but trying to recreate that photo really did help give me a better idea of how moving things around, adjusting reflectors and such makes such a big difference. Looking forward to trying the next one too!

  • Liz said:

    Looks fantastic! The color profile is a little different than in the original, but still looks really great. It came together really well! And I didn’t even notice the potatoes weren’t there until I read it. I think you totally captured the mood.

  • Donna Hay Challenge #8; the results - Junglefrog Cooking said:

    […] on over to Valerie’s post about the challenge which will tell you the issues she had with attempting the shot. There were […]

  • Soma said:

    Found you via Simone. Potatoes or no potatoes, your photograph is just stunning! and way better than the original and I really love Ben Dearnley’s work. The low light, the way that your the floor and the stone compliments the meat, the composition – everything is just beautiful! Congrats.

  • Digigirl said:

    Thanks so much for the kind words Soma and Liz. It was a challenging picture to get (especially without a tripod AND because we wanted to eat the steak!) but I really learned a lot going through this exercise. Thanks for stopping by!

  • MooNFaCE said:

    Congratulations on winning the challenge. You did a great job and you deserve it. I really enjoyed reading your post and all the problems you run into. Thanks for sharing.

  • Digigirl said:

    Thanks, MooNFaCE!

  • Nusrat Azim said:

    The very last picture gave me goosebumps ! OMG! You so deserve to win :)

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