Tag Archives: Beef

Salted Rumpsteak and Roasted Potatoes with Chimchurri Sauce

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




One of THOSE days (aka Filet Mignon on Charred Onions and Crispy Gruyere Potato Cakes)

Have you ever had one of THOSE days? Where nothing goes as planned? Yesterday was one of those days.

Tuesday night was my grocery store night and in a rebellious moment, I splurged on a package of lovely tenderloin steaks. I love a good steak and so do both of the carnivores er, guys I live with. I have a wonderful honey marinade recipe that I usually use with steaks – it’s easy, we all love it, but one does have to think ahead to get it marinating about a day before using it. And, of course, I forgot.

So, no problem, right? Let’s do something new and different. No matter how good that marinade is, there’s always something else really good right around the corner. Right? I surfed and I browsed and I drooled and finally I decided on this recipe – Filet Mignon on Charred Onions and Zucchini with Balsamic Vinegar Sauce. Sounds delish, doesn’t it?

I knew I didn’t have any zucchini at home, and I didn’t want to stop at the store, but no problem again. I’d just substitute what I did have. What did I have? I had some potatoes. I had some mushrooms. I had some lettuces. I had some bell peppers. My boyfriend hates bell peppers, so I can only use those when I can hide them in the dish somehow, so those were out. Lettuce wasn’t right. So, mushrooms and potatoes won.

I wanted to maintain the idea of stacking the veggies under the meat, and I thought something crispy would go well, so I figured I’d do a little crispy potato cake thing at the bottom, with some mushrooms and cheese in the center of the potatoes for flavor and interest.

Right, then! All figured out and ready to go. But remember, this was one of THOSE days.

  • Turns out, I didn’t have mushrooms at all. No biggie, just potatoes and cheese will work.
  • Did you know that when reducing red wine and balsamic vinegar, it can turn from very liquidy to syrup to TOTALLY BURNED AND USELESS in about 1 second? While you are watching?
  • Trying to flip an entire pan full of hash browns without dumping it all over your cluttered stove top with several hot burners is really hard.
  • Getting an attractive photograph of a plate full of brown is quite challenging.

As one of THOSE days go, I suppose it was a pretty minor one. At the end, we had a decent steak – cooked my usual way instead of specified in the recipe though. I always sear on the stove top and finish in the oven as I find trying to do it all the way on the stove top gives you a burned outer crust before you get the center cooked right, even for rare. The potato cakes did come out well despite the huge mess I made. I whipped together a red wine and dijon pan sauce at the last minute to replace the balsamic vinegar reduction, and although it was not a winner (so I didn’t include it in the recipe), it didn’t ruin the dish. Just pretend there’s no sauce in the picture, ‘k?

I’ve adjusted this recipe to try to solve some of the problems I had. Hopefully it will work better for y’all!

Bottom line – a bite of good rare steak combined with a bite of crispy potato cake and some charred onions is a pretty tasty bite.


Nutritional Info calculated with BigOven Recipe Software

Calories: 483 (based on 6 oz steaks, 3/4 lb potatoes, 2 cloves garlic)
Fat: 20g, Sat Fat: 8g
Fiber: 2g
Sugars: 2g
Protein: 55g

Filet Mignon on FoodistaFilet Mignon
Potato Cakes on FoodistaPotato Cakes