Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pasta with Shredded Chicken and Rosemary

Ooo, we had "Pasta with Shredded Chicken and Rosemary" last night. Fancy.

Let's be real here, we had spaghetti with garlic bread. Seriously. Now, Jhan did fancy it up a bit, as she details below, but spaghetti is spaghetti. Judge for yourself. As they say, pictures don't lie:


The Food (Jhan)

Okay, it's Sunday night and no one feels like cooking. That's when I pull out whatever is in the fridge and try to create a decent meal from it.

You might have noticed that we love pasta, so I'm always trying to think of something to change up the usual white or red sauce. For this meal I shredded up some left over rotisserie chicken and chopped a couple tablespoonfuls of fresh rosemary. For the sauce base I sauteed three cloves of minced garlic, a sliced onion, and some of the rosemary until fragrant. Then I added a some sliced mushrooms, the chicken, some more rosemary and a fresh bay leaf. After a few minutes I added about a half cup of red wine and the spaghetti sauce, along with some dried Italian seasoning (crushed up), and a little water.

I really like the flavor of the rotisseried chicken with the fresh Rosemary with the fresh bay leaf, it is lively and has a strong chicken flavor. The texture of the shredded chicken pieces also works well with the softness of the mushrooms and the pasta.

For the salad, I chopped mixed greens, some radicchio, cucumber, cilantro and a little jack cheese. I added the cut up cherry tomatoes, a bit of pepper and salt, then chilled the salads before serving. Chopped salad is also good with fresh basil, bacon, salami or prosciutto bits.



I have problems with simple dishes, and what could be simpler than spaghetti? Of course, I have problems with complex dishes as well, so maybe I just have problems in general. I'm trying to work on my white on white lighting, so I selected a rectangular white plate, twirled a pile of spaghetti on the plate (which was much more difficult than it sounds and came out much messier than I wanted), topped with sauce and a sprinkle of finely chopped rosemary, and placed three slices of garlic bread at the other end of the plate. The ubiquitous sprig of fresh basil added a touch of color.

My main issues with the plating is that the pasta is messy and there is too much of it. Less is more in plating. Also, the bread tends to look a bit staged, and three slices overwhelms the pasta (which would be even worse with less pasta). In the end, less pasta with one slice of bread might have worked better.

Lighting and Photography

Spaghetti Lighting Set Up
Since I'm still struggling with white on white lighting, I decided to give it another try. This time I placed two flashes behind a reflector as the key light, and one flash on the opposite side of the food as the fill. The fill was set at -4 stops compared to the key lights.

Though I liked the lighting overall, I discovered very quickly that moving the food a few inches toward or away from the key lights made a huge difference in the quality of the light. I had no idea that a few inches could make so much of a difference.

Overall, though I'm not terribly happy with the plating, I'm reasonably happy with the lighting.


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