Welcome to another monthly challenge with the ladies of The Inspired Plate! Back in January, 15 of us joined forces to challenge ourselves in the area of food photography and styling.
And speaking of food photography and styling, I attended an incredible workshop in New York City yesterday with none other than Béa Peltre who is an AMAZING food photographer and stylist, as well as blogger. I can’t wait to share yesterday’s experience in my next blog post!
Meanwhile, I’m sitting in my hotel room at the New York Hilton trying to get this month’s challenge post done while keeping one eye on The Weather Channel (and hoping that I don’t have any trouble flying back to FL this afternoon due to Tropical Storm Debby) and wondering how to describe the execution of my “Fish Two Ways – Raw & Cooked” assignment. Well, it started off on the right foot – after shopping at Southgate Plaze, I wandered over to Siesta Key to check out Big Water Fish Market which opened last November. He had a beautiful selection of fresh fish and although I think my heart was set on Chilean sea bass, I really felt like I should go with grouper since it’s so indigenous to Florida. He pulled out a tub that just came in from the gulf waters – and talk about fresh! We captured my “raw” photo there and I thanked him for his hospitality and for allowing me to take some pictures. It’s a wonderful market and I’m sure they will be very successful.
I only had once chance to develop my recipe and to get it prepared – I decided to alter a recipe I’ve made with Chilean sea bass and changed it up by adding a new layer of flavor with mayonnaise and Monterey Jack cheese that was inspired by a recipe of Paula Deen on the Food Network site. Okay, so a little decadent as compared to my original recipe! I held off getting it into the oven as it was going to be dinner (I’m not crazy about letting a fish dish sit or to reheat it) and all the while thinking I would have plenty of natural light. Ha! What I didn’t notice was the storm approaching from the south and before I knew it, it was almost dark as night out. At that point, the fish was in the oven, but my entire plan for the photography setting was basically screwed. I would have to pull out my Lowel EGO lights and either move everything into the office where I had room to set up the lights, or to try to squeeze a light in my original setting. I just was too tired and feeling too rushed to try to recreate a setting, so I put a light on a chair in between my sliding door and tabletop and hoped it would work and not blow out exposure.
It worked – it’s a bright image but I breathed a sigh of relief that I was able to get the assignment done. The recipe for Grouper Monterey Jack with Leeks and Shallots can be found near the end of the post.
Please continue on to see what the other ladies in the group showcased this month – next up is Cayce Wegman | Boston, MA Photographer.
Grouper Monterey Jack with Leeks & Shallots
- 4 cups sliced leeks (white and light green parts only)
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 8 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon paprika, divided
- juice of one lemon
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup finely chopped chives
- kosher salt and black pepper
- Lemon wedges for serving
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 13x9x2 or comparable sized glass baking dish, add 4 tablespoons of butter and place in the oven until it melts. Add the leeks and shallots and sprinkle generously with kosher salt and black pepper. Pour in the chicken broth and return to the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Remove from oven.
- Add the grouper fillets on top of the leek-shallot mixture, dot each fillet with a tablespoon of butter and a drizzle of oil, and lemon juice. Sprinkle with kosher salt, black pepper, and paprika. Return to the oven and roast until fish is almost done, about 15 minutes depending on the thickness.
- While the fillets are cooking, in a medium bowl combine the cheese, mayonnaise, and paprika. Season with a little salt and pepper and set aside.
- When the fish is almost done, remove from the oven and top each fillet with about 1/2 cup of the blended cheese and mayonnaise. Return to the oven for about 9-10 more minutes to melt the cheese.
- Serve fillets on their bed of leeks and shallots and garnish with the chives. Serve lemon wedges on the side.