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Trial and Error in Food Photography…and Pistachio Parmesan Risotto

September 7, 2011 | Side Dishes

I have a project that’s keeping me very busy that I haven’t mentioned yet here – a cookbook – and I couldn’t be more excited! I’ve contracted with a publisher to produce a gorgeous full color cookbook that will feature recipes from the finest chefs and destinations all around Colorado, and I’m tickled about the project. I’m still in the phase of gathering recipes, but hope to begin testing (the real fun for me) in a few weeks.I’ve also been given the opportunity to be considered to photograph the food as well, and will be working up three of the dishes with a full portfolio of photos very soon. So today, in an effort to get ready, I was messing around with various backdrops and textures to determine things I like and things that just don’t work.For me, it was a toss up between the first photo with the dark background and this one with the dark foreground. I also threw away a good 15 other stylings that just plain stunk. That’s the trial and error part – you have to imagine the food photo in your head when you set it up, but then you have to evaluate if what you imagined really works or not. This was perhaps the most bland subject to practice with – pistachio risotto – but it’s anything but bland tasting. It’s perfect served alongside a steak, with fish, or just about anything else. So good, and really, so easy.

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Pistachio Parmesan Risotto
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 4
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, mincd
  • 1 cup arborio or carnaroli rice
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 8-12 cups chicken stock, warmed
  • ½ cup roughly chopped pistachios
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • half and half, if desired
  1. Heat oil in a stockpot over medium high heat and add shallot and rice; cook, stirring constantly, for about minutes, then deglaze with white wine and stir until absorbed. Continue by adding chicken stock, about ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly to release the starch from the rice, until the rice is cooked through, about 20 minutes or so. Stir in the pistachios and Parmesan, and season to taste with salt and pepper. If you desire a creamier rice, add a little half and half as desired, then serve immediately.



7 Responses | TrackBack URL | Comments Feed

  1. I am very excited about your cookbook, too! Can’t wait.
    Thanks for your tip with the texture in the photo! Today I will go by the fabric store to purchase a stack of quilt samples.
    I like the first picture with the dark background a lot. Maybe with a slightly higher angle, so the viewer could see more of the risotto? But like you said, that is probably personal preference and you know better, after having visited the workshop up in Boulder. Looking forward to learning more on Saturday.


  2. Looks you really enjoyed the meal, looks really delicious. For an amateur I think you pass to be in the league of professional photographers. The photos are really great.


  3. For some reason I like the bottom left in the collage. Like Kirsten, I’m so much looking forward to that book. Love the idea. I’ve found out I can’t make the Saturday event. I hope she does another class. And by the way, this risotto looks really good.


  4. Congratulations on the cookbook! Sounds like busy and fun times await you. When it comes to photos, you just know the right one when you see it. If you’re reacting to it, then it’s the right one in my opinion. And I’m reacting to the last one! Beautiful.


  5. I like the first photo Michele; playing the white of the risotto against the darker background gives it some balance. We all know risotto and rice are so hard to shoot…it’s really all about your props with dishes like this it seems.

    Wishing you the best with your book…can’t wait to see the end results.


    • Thanks Barb! I landed the contract this week to do the food photos for the book also, so I’m really having fun – spend about 5 hours a day cooking two recipes and shooting them – and then the dreaded clean up and scramble to find someone to eat the food so I don’t end up wasting so much!


  6. food photography is really great, i love both foods and photography at the same time


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