I’m not sure what’s going on with the relationship between me and Heavy D. We’re having a bit of a rough patch right now. On the surface, everything seems fine. Heck, I just recently outfitted him with a one of a kind, made lovingly with my own two hands, camera strap cover. If four hours of my time on a freaking accessory doesn’t say I’m committed to our relationship, then I don’t know what does.
But despite all my sweet talk and handiwork, Heavy D and I are having communication issues. I’ll focus him on a shot, hit the shutter, and then be horribly disappointed when I upload the images. Right now my pictures seem plagued by wonky focus. What I see in living color, what Heavy D shows me, and what I see on my computer screen are vastly different things.
And then there is the issue that no matter how good some dishes might taste, I can’t photograph them to save my life. I’m not a food stylist (among other things), so I don’t have an arsenal of tricks up my sleeve to make everything look pretty. Sure, these dishes may have the food equivalent of a “great personality” or “inner beauty”, but like Beth @ 990 Square says of the Chicken with Rice Soup, it “does look a bit like cat food. Delicious cat food.” I can’t blame this on any struggles Heavy D and I might be having. But it doesn’t make our relationship any easier either.
Ask for the impossible and then be disappointed because you didn’t get it? I’m not a therapist (see, many things are on that list), but I imagine that they see relationships fail on this one issue as much as anything else. Sometimes I try to force the issue, asking Heavy D to give me a miracle. And other times I keep those unrealistic expectations in check and just troll the Interwebs for an image.
Like that one up there. Because I failed to coax Chicken Marbella into showing some outer beauty. But it is full of “great personality”. So you shouldn’t let my lack of food styling skills keep you from getting acquainted with Marbella. Because a leap of faith on your part will be rewarded with a dish that could easily become a weekly staple. I made this on a Saturday thinking that I’d serve it on Sunday. Sunday turned into Thursday before Marbella got reheated and plated. And can I tell you, that was the easiest Thursday night dinner I’ve made in a while.
It went like this: heat oven to 350, place dish in oven, return to the front porch to read a chapter or two in the book of the moment. 40 minutes later, or whenever The Mistah got in from work, dinner was done and I barely lifted a finger. Even if you prepare some rice or couscous to serve with Marbella, as you should, that’s a cinch.
Sadly, Heavy D is immune to any attempts at wooing with food. Although if you call on my friend Google and ask him about Chicken Marbella, he’ll show you lots of examples of people who either ARE food stylists or can coax a miracle out of their cameras.
Adapted from this recipe in Baltimore Style Magazine, which attributes it to The Silver Palate Cookbook
BAH Note: The recipe in BSM calls for 5 pounds of chicken. If you’ve got enough mouths to feed, or really like leftovers, use 5 pounds. I had four chicken thighs in the freezer so that’s what I used. I don’t recommend trying to scale down the marinade though since it was just enough sauce even with only four pieces of chicken in my dish. I do recommend that you remove the skin before you cook the chicken AND skim the fat out of sauce before you serve. This dish can easily be cooked days in advance, refrigerated, and reheated in a 350 degree oven for serving.
BAH Tip: If you are not olive adverse, as I am, use 1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives and 1/2 cup capers. You can also add 2 to 4 cloves garlic (whole or minced) to the marinade for a little extra “personality”.
- 4 to 8 pieces bone in chicken thighs, skin removed
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup pitted prunes
- 1 jar capers, drained
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white wine
Combine the vinegar and olive oil in a measuring cup and use a small whisk to combine. Place the chicken, oregano, prunes, capers, bay leaves, garlic and olives (if using) in a large ziploc bag. Add the vinegar and oil to the bag, seal, and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees and place the chicken in a single layer in one (or two, depending on how much chicken you have) baking dishes. Add the marinade and wine to the dish and sprinkle with brown sugar.
Bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour, or until done, occasionally basting the chicken with the pan juices.
Transfer the chicken, prunes, and capers/olives to a serving platter. Let the pan juices settle and then skim most of the fat from it before seasoning to taste with salt and pepper and adding the juices back to the chicken or putting them in a gravy boat to pass at the table.
14 thoughts on “Relationship Issues”
I imagine Heavy D is just throwing a temper tantrum. The kahuna does it every now and then too. And when I ignore him for a week, he magically wants to do want I want him too. I call it Tough Love.
Tough Love, I like it.
Of course, my issues have nothing to do with needing to become better versed in ways of the 50mm lens ; )
I’m fully versed in the language of photo suckage. You have my sympathy. And really, chicken is kind of hard to sexy up, don’t you think?
Chicken stubbornly refused to let me capture its beauty. Maybe if it were whole roasted or gloriously fried I’d be singing a different tune.
I feel your pain here. I’ve taken so many pictures that didn’t come out like I wanted them to, especially at night. During the day, the photos fare much better. But you’ve described the chicken very well in words!
Thanks Jen. Maybe I should have added ‘ mad food styling and photography skills’ to my perfect world wish list.
Hey so, my strap is starting to look really ick. Do you think you could make me one? 😉
I’m sorry Heavy D is not being a good friend recently. My baby 5000 is really rocking out, even though I’ve been working her hard of late–so hard she actually got hit with a huge piece of hail yesterday in Breckenridge. But she just keeps on kicking. So hopefully you and heavy D will be through this rough patch soon!
Beth, I’m sure Heavy D and I will get past this eventually. I’ll see what I can do to remedy your camera strap situation.
I have a destined-for-failure setup – our kitchen is all steel and white surfaces, with overhead halogen spot lighting. Nothing but really harsh shadows and bright spots. I’ve never been able to get what I consider real beauty shots out of the food, but most of it looks ok. Your food photography looks great. Don’t sweat it. I’ve seen stuff on other blogs that looks downright scary.
Ouch, you do have many obstacles to overcome don’t you? And you are so right that there are some downright scary food photos being posted in the Interwebs. Thanks for the kind words. Heavy D and I are trying to resolve our differences. If only I could bribe “him” with cookies, cakes, or treats.
OH MY! I have a Nikon who is smarter than I am…so therefore he languishes in the depths of my closet! that’ll show him!
My beloved Sony point and shoot has had a nervous breakdown or womething and has been replaced by his newer cousin whom I do not like nearly as well…….and the camera knows it!
Now about this recipe…..sounds good except : PAS DE capers too salty. PAS DE prunes……not my taste..still it is hard to make chicken say CHEESE!
Emily, I know what you mean about my camera being smarter than I am.
I rinse the capers and it cuts down on their overall brinyness. The prunes bring a mellow sweetness to the dish that I really enjoyed.
Emily has eaten prunes. Though more in a therapeutic mode than Good Eats. Emily is still trying to recover from that.
Emily, it took me many, many years to embrace the prune.