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Deliciously ugly dinners: mushroom onion hash

November 21, 2013

Admission time: I am a shallow food blogger. With the food blogosphere bursting with beautiful photos that make your mouth water while being artfully placed on perfectly matched backgrounds, it can be easy to get quite inane and fussy about whether I should bother photographing an otherwise delicious dinner because I don’t have a napkin or table or fork that would make it look nice enough. Then I remember that the whole point of being a blogger is that I can be honest, real and relaxed. Right guys?!

potato mushroom onion hash-1

That said (since I’m being honest), I wouldn’t mind me some pretty napkins. Anyway, as well as being honest myself – I’d love to hear, just quietly, what your favourite “deliciously ugly dinners” are (if you’re a blogger, link me at ‘em!). Or if you haven’t got a favourite, you can now create one by letting some mushrooms, onions and potatoes caramelise in “more butter than you at first think is probably enough.”

This hash is one of those foods that is exponentially more than the sum of its parts. I’ve made this quite a few times now since it’s pretty easy, and I think the potato, onion, butter and generous amount of salt are absolutely pivotal to taking things to that next level of deliciousness. Green peppers are another favourite alternative to mushrooms, and I imagine cauliflower would also make an amazing companion, or sweet potato, or pumpkin. Daikon radishes would actually be quite swell too (especially with a little splash of soy sauce).

Potato, mushroom & onion hash

To start, you need a very large, seasoned cast iron pan or one of those horrid nonstick pans, and a lid. Then chop some washed potatoes (no need to peel, unless you’re allergic or something) into roughly 1cm (approx 1/3″) cubes. I use about 4 mediumish sized ones. Slice some mushrooms and an onion. Then melt that larger-than-you-think-is-probably-enough knob of butter in your pan on medium high heat, swirl to coat the pan, and pop everything in. Sprinkle with a generous dusting of salt, cover, and leave for 3 minutes, or until the bottoms go golden brown. Flip and stir, cover, leave for 3 or 4 minutes. Repeat and don’t add any water to the pan until things start getting brown - then add a splash of water to help you dislodge the sticky gooey dark deliciousness. Keep going, never letting it get too stew-like, until the potatoes start to fall apart. Taste and season with more salt if needed, and some pepper. Serve alongside a fried egg or your protein of choice, and a zippy salad, like:

‘Slaw with lemon dill aioli

Mix aioli, lemon juice and zest with finely chopped dill. Slice cabbage and other vege(s) of choice (I used cos lettuce). Mix it like you mean it.

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Creamy polenta with roasted root vegetables

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Fluffy two cheese pancakes

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. November 21, 2013 10:14 pm

    Hi there,
    First of all – this plate looks appetizing, even though you may not feel this way. It’s making me feel like getting into the kitchen and prepare it !
    Food bloggers are definitely into photography as well because this is all we can do to attract readers – we, humans, eat with our eyes first and then, when it stimulates our other senses, we get into the kitchen and try it (-:
    I understand what you’re saying, though, about feeling like you HAVE to set a scenery for the simplest dish ((((-: I find myself doing it myself all the time but I look at it as another one of the fun things about having a food blog and sharing our creations with people.
    Some dishes, though, especially ones that are grey or brown – and not colorful, don’t turn out well on pictures. I mean – pictures don;t do them justice (-:
    My name is Michal, by the way (it’s a Biblical Hebrew name for a female, unlike MichaEl)

  2. November 22, 2013 1:31 am

    Looks good to me! I feel like most of my pics look less “dressed” than the majority of food blogs. I don’t bother with sets and special lighting, and photoshop- the deliciousness of your dish definitely still shines through. That being said, I make a certain green bean casserole that is beyond delicious, but it looks DISGUSTING in pictures. I think it’s the creamy sauce that makes everything look the same color.

  3. November 22, 2013 2:18 am

    That photo looks pretty appetizing to me… I totally get what you’re saying, though. I have plenty of things I cook that I hesitate to blog about because I just can’t get them to look halfway edible in a photo. The worst culprits are braised and slow cooked dishes where everything starts to take on the same color palette. A good example is this chicken stew (http://eatsforallages.com/2013/03/04/herb-garlic-chicken-stew/) that gets progressively less appetizing as the post goes on. The only shot with any color in it is the ingredients list…and it’s all downhill from there as it ends up a photo of a bowl of grey/brown stew…that is totally delicious!

  4. November 22, 2013 4:13 am

    There is an Italian gnocchi dish and a dessert that are known as ‘brutti ma buoni,’ which means ugly but delicious. And they are not kidding! Besides, your dish looks pretty yummy.

  5. November 22, 2013 5:00 am

    I have this problem of ugly food so often, but if the recipe is good enough, I will put the ugly photo up. This actually looks great, think you’re being hard on your photography skills.

  6. November 22, 2013 5:44 am

    Ohhh, I don’t think I’m gong to add that photo to my Pinterest board, it’s over exposed. What would my Pinterest follower (note singular) think of me if I pinned that photo? Did I say that out aloud? Oh well, I’m just another shallow food blogger.

    Actually this recipe sounds great, I think it would make a great breakfast dish.

    I’m very new to food blogging, and it shows. It gives me an excuse to try interesting recipes, improve my photography/food styling and (funnily enough) blogging. Here is my recipe for Thai fish cakes, with the accompanying “overexposed, too tight, awkward angle, photo styling” failure. http://www.45degrees.co.nz/thai-fish-cakes-low-cal-smash-hit/

  7. November 22, 2013 9:09 am

    I used to work in catering, EVERYTHING had to look a million dollars! Those savoury dishes that are not photogenic can be transformed by a sprig of fresh herbs, sliced spring onion, a wedge of lemon or lime, or just a little more of the component that is in the dish, for instance on your mushroom potato hash, a few mushrooms sautéed alone. Look at Pinterest and analyse what you see you like. I bet it’s contrasting colours, camera angles and depth of field. Photography is a complex and technical skill, but worth exploring. BTW! Your food looks fine!

  8. November 23, 2013 11:52 pm

    Ha, I think most of the things I make are probably quite ugly, strictly aesthetically speaking… but to me, most food look delicious as long as the photograph is halfway decent. This dinner of yours is perfectly enticing to me!

  9. robynjean permalink
    November 24, 2013 2:29 pm

    I mostly shy away from posting ugly food photos but perhaps I shouldn’t! It just never looks as good in shot as i think it should or as it tastes. Case in point: http://freakfood.wordpress.com/2011/05/09/leek-and-mushroom-risotto/
    I found your blog while trying to find something else to do with leeks. The (alone) grow really well in my garden.

  10. November 25, 2013 4:35 pm

    Looks really nice and for sure it must have been very yummi :)

  11. December 6, 2013 4:22 pm

    I made a date and almond butter the other day which tastes great but try photographing a brown gooey spread in a small apartment with terrible lighting at 6pm… hmmm.

  12. January 4, 2014 8:03 am

    I love easy hash for dinner or breakfast. yum!

  13. January 13, 2014 9:26 pm

    This looks bright and clean and delicious–I like that the focus is really on the food, not an enviable table setting! Hasenpfeffer (rabbit stew) has to be one of the ugliest dishes (it’s a brown, gloppy mess!) but it’s one of my favorites.

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