Francis Hammon

Francis at work

I’ve participated in many photo shoots, always as writer, there to make sure the food looks the way it is supposed to. For this latest, however, I was not just the writer of the book, the creator of many of the recipes, the boss of the photo list, the procurer of ingredients, but the cook, the stylist, and yes, the cleaner-upper.

It’s a big job. But thanks to the photographer, Francis Hammond, widely known for his stylish and elegant books, it was one of the most fun jobs I’ve done.  Seriously. Francis and I have collaborated on many an article, as comfortable tramping through pastures in the wilds of the Auvergne to get interviews and photos of cattle farmers and cheese makers as we are styling plates and pretending that a rainy day isn’t.  He peppers the day with silly jokes; I laugh at them, and a good time is had by all.

steak frites

Steak frites by Francis Hammond

Last week we finished up a photo shoot for my upcoming book, FRENCH GRILL.  Our goal was seven to ten full-fledged plate shots a day, which is ambitious. But an advantage to having worked much together is that we know what we can do.

Pouring red hot coals by Francis Hammond

I’m fast in the kitchen, but of course the grill will only go as quickly as it wants to, so that was the unpredictable part of the project.  Francis is a professional and while he’ll adjust and focus and shift and nudge until it makes you crazy, when he gets the shot, it’s gotten and we move along.  And as the days got shorter our job got, in some senses, easier because we had to quit at 7:30.  No matter what.

Roast Chicken

Roast Chicken by Francis Hammond

One thing about shooting a cookbook is there is just so much food involved. This meant that at days’ end there might be a roast chicken, a shoulder of lamb, slices of sweet grilled squash or even sweeter eggplant. One day there was enough pork to make a pig, perfectly crisp potatoes, carrots sweet as candy, fillets of salmon, perfectly grilled oysters…all just waiting to be tasted.  Because of course we don’t really take time for lunch; how can you when the light is available for a finite moment, and you’ve got the bar placed so high?

oyster with butter and pommeau

Oyster with butter and pommeau by Francis Hammond

Oh, we snacked plenty – the grilled poundcake is too good to miss, and the perfectly tender pears that go with it just have to be eaten warm from the photo, as do the oysters that keep their warmth through the variations we shot  – but it wasn’t until days end that we sat down for a meal.  This meant we began early, but an early start is always a good one.

The choice of what to focus on was Pantagruelian – would it be the lamb, redolent of lemon zest and garlic? Or the salmon, with its buttery tarragon sauce? Or the chicken, bursting with citrus and rosemary? Or the fragrant choucroute that offered, among other things, crisp and smoky chunks of bacon?  Or Dinner in Fifteen?

Our choice was, inevitably, the most freshly grilled morsels. And while I’d tried everything many times over, tasting them on the heels of a photo shoot, with someone who has eaten in the finest restaurants of the land, was a whole new experience.  I knew the recipes more intimately because I’d not only made them taste good but look good too. And Francis was a happy and appreciative public, the books’ first. Stay Tuned.

Fifteen MInute Supper

Dinner in Fifteen by Francis Hammond

DINNER IN FIFTEEN – SAUSAGES, VEGETABLES AND GARDEN HERBS

Don’t we all wish for recipes like this, something quick and gorgeous, a little wild and lively, that goes together in no time at all?! I know I do, and this is what I turn to. It’s so easy, so pretty, and so seasonally perfect because it takes best advantage of the lively vegetables of summer’s end. I make sure to always have rose chilling, and it goes perfectly with this dish.
ASTUCES: If you don’t have a plancha, you can cook the vegetables in a cast-iron skillet, and the sausages right on the grill. I suggest using Aidells sausages www.aidells.com or any artisanally made sausages that contain real ingredients.

Print Recipe
Sausages with Vegetables and Herbs
Don’t we all wish for recipes like this, something quick and gorgeous, a little wild and lively, that goes together in no time at all?! I know I do, and this is what I turn to. It’s so easy, so pretty, and so seasonally perfect because it takes best advantage of the lively vegetables of summer’s end. I make sure to always have rose chilling, and it goes perfectly with this dish.
Sausages with Vegetables and Herbs
Servings
people
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces sausage links each weighing a generous 3(95g), at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (generous) olive oil
  • 1 pound onions cut in ½-inch pieces, 500g
  • 2 medium red bell peppers seeds and pith removed, cut into ½-inch pieces, about 7 ounces; 210g
  • 4 large cloves garlic cut into thick matchsticks
  • 15 stems fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 pound multi-hued cherry tomatoes trimmed and cut in half
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
Servings
people
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces sausage links each weighing a generous 3(95g), at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (generous) olive oil
  • 1 pound onions cut in ½-inch pieces, 500g
  • 2 medium red bell peppers seeds and pith removed, cut into ½-inch pieces, about 7 ounces; 210g
  • 4 large cloves garlic cut into thick matchsticks
  • 15 stems fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 pound multi-hued cherry tomatoes trimmed and cut in half
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
Sausages with Vegetables and Herbs
Instructions
  1. Light a good-sized fire in the barbecue. When the coals are red and dusted with ash, spread them in a tight, single layer leaving a perimeter of grill with no coals under it; they need to emit concentrated heat. Set the grill over the coals. Set the plancha or a large cast-iron skillet on the grill.
  2. Rub the sausages lightly with about 1 teaspoon of the oil.
  3. When the plancha is hot, pour the remaining oil on it. When the oil is hot – it will be almost instantly – place the onions and the bell pepper on it, stir, season with salt and pepper and cook until the onions are turning deep golden at the edges, and the peppers are getting black spots on them, about 7 minutes.
  4. Simultaneously, place the sausage links on the grill around the plancha and cook, turning once or twice, until they are golden all over, which will take about 7 minutes too.
  5. Add the garlic to the vegetables, stir, then cover the barbecue. After 3 minutes, stir the vegetables and turn the sausage, and peel the leaves off the thyme right over the vegetables. Add the fennel too, stir, and continue cooking until the vegetables are nearly tender through, stirring them, for about 4 minutes.
  6. Add the cherry tomatoes to the vegetables stir, season with a bit of salt and more pepper. Tear the basil leaves over the mixture, cover the barbecue and cook just until the cherry tomatoes are softened, which will take about 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. Transfer the vegetables to a large platter. Arrange the sausages around the vegetables, garnish with basil sprigs and serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

ASTUCES: If you don’t have a plancha, you can cook the vegetables in a cast-iron skillet, and the sausages right on the grill. I suggest using Aidells sausages www.aidells.com or any artisanally made sausages that contain real ingredients. SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: plancha or cast-iron skillet, long tongs, gloves, metal spatula

Share this Recipe

 

 

 

 

Tagged with →  
Share →

2 Responses to A Behind the Scenes Photo Shoot

  1. Cathy says:

    Looks delicious!!

Leave a Reply