Monday, April 16, 2012

Picture perfect, or is it? Halibut with Cara Cara Orange Sauce

Aren't these photos pretty? Well, photos can be deceiving. Don’t get me wrong…this halibut was scrumptious and I would make it again and again. But what you don’t see is the behind-the-scenes photo set-up.

I’ve tried not to let photography equipment take over the house. Normally, the dining room is home to two huge photo lights, a tripod, a reflector, white foam boards, props, and piles of linens. Although I used to pretend that this faux studio was temporary, I’ve given up the dining room to it. It is way too much trouble to take it down and put it back up every few days. But this weekend, we were trying something different: shooting in natural light. What a concept, huh? We don’t have a lot of options for good light, so we ended up with a very precarious set-up near the sliding glass door involving the tripod perched on cardboard boxes, way too much furniture crammed into a small corner, reflectors teetering dangerously and only four hands to try to wrangle all of this.

So…you see how some of these photos are on a nice, clean, white tablecloth? That was before one of the foam boards came crashing down, knocking the nearby measuring cup of sauce over, making it rain Cara Cara orange miso cream sauce, and prompting me to scream at the top of my lungs as I ran in what felt like slow motion to try to stop the disaster from happening. This was all perfectly fine with our dog, who dutifully came to provide his services and was very pleased to find out that even his bed was splattered with sauce.

Now, I will admit to being a slight over-reactor in times of crisis. Some people (Andy) might even say I am MORE than a slight over-reactor. And apparently I shot him a very dirty look when this all happened (which I have apologized for). But what I think is funny is that when the sauce spilled, my choice of exclamation was, “GOSH DANG IT!!!” This is funny because normally I curse like a sailor, and fine, I might be a big over-reactor. And that was all I could muster?

Anyway, no real harm done and all’s well that ends well, I suppose, even if the dog might lick a hole in his bed and the hardwood floor is now dangerously slick in that area. Does that mean the other parts of the floor are just really dirty? Nah…

Halibut with Cara Cara Orange Miso Cream Sauce and Roasted Beets

Serves 4

Roasted beets:
olive oil

Sauce: 1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup Cara Cara orange juice
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon white miso
1/4 teaspoon Cara Cara orange zest
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
canola oil

4 halibut filets
canola oil


For beets:
Trim greens off beets. Place in a glass baking dish and toss generously with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Cover tightly with foil. Roast at 425 degrees F for 45 minutes, until beets are tender. Let cool, then peel and slice. Reserve.

For sauce:
In a small saucepan, heat a very small drizzle of oil. Sauté garlic quickly, then add orange juice and wine. Bring to a boil, then simmer until reduced by about half. Add cream, and whisk in miso and orange zest. Let mixture reduce for a few minutes. Whisk in butter, a few cubes at a time and heat until mixture is thickened. Reserve.

For halibut:
Lightly oil halibut filets, then sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large stainless pan. When oil is very hot, place halibut in pan and cook for a 3-5 minutes per side, depending on thickness.

To serve, place arugula on plate and top with halibut filet. Spoon sauce on halibut, then place roasted beets on top of fish. Top with more sauce, as desired.

My advice: don’t knock your sauce over. It’s really good and has hints of orange that pair very nicely with the roasted beets.  For the sake of the photos, I used it very sparingly, but with the sauce I had left, I drenched my plate.


  1. These photos definitely look worth the trouble! My photos are definitely better this time of year when I can get natural lighting. Otherwise, I just take what I can without all of the equipment...which is why your photos are infinitely better than mine. :-)

  2. Now that the leaves are back, I've lost my nice natural light and will be back to precariously balancing things like you do. We don't even have a dog to help out so I'm going to have to be doubly careful.

    It was definitely worth the effort though. You photos are spectacular. The dish even more so. I love all the components; fish, beets and sauce.

  3. Wow, what a gorgeous dish! The colors are fantastic, and your photos are amazing. The sauce sounds like a perfect complement to the mild fish. Lovely!

  4. Yes...I have a table by a window that I set up many of my shots when I'm able to blog when the sun is still out. And I have a growing collection of linens from Dollar Tree and other clearances I find. It's easy for it to take over house and home, yes? I love cara cara oranges, by the way...this is so pretty!!

  5. I always prefer natural light, when I can get it. Like you I don't have many options though. This dish is just gorgeous, and the flavors sound divine!

  6. Beautiful colors and the recipe sounds delicious. And I don't even like beets!

  7. I love this post Karen. I laughed out loud and not at you, but in sympathy as I've been there, done that many a time. Your natural light photos are gorgeous!! Love them and this recipe. YUM

  8. This looks delicious. I'm going to have to go in search of a cara cara orange. I've never heard of them.

    The photo is great! I always have such a hard time finding the perfect spot and lighting to take mine.

  9. Oh no! My dining room has become my office, essentially, and my photography studio. But I always shoot in natural light, too cheap to pay for the good lights! But things like that happen to me all the time.

  10. What a great picture and even yummier is this dish! Congratulations on top 9 today! :)

  11. Your photos are exquisite! But I had to laugh at your behind the scenes drama...the things we go through for a decent picture :)

  12. i could imagine myself too doing all those behind the scene drama haha.. yeah you are so right... sometime we do over react and much to the chagrin of our family who see us "behind the scenes" haha.
    but your halibut is perfect. I had halibut the other night when my husband took me to dinner as his welcome back home dinner date. Yes Karen, i'm back and I would like to thank you for stopping by to check on my whereabouts haha!

    Have a cheery morning,

  13. Your photos are absolutely stunning! They certainly do this beautiful dish justice! I certainly can't bring myself to let the picture taking overwhelm the actual cooking and eating, but skill and patience with a camera certainly helps show off the lovely work crafted in the kitchen!

  14. I love the use of different coloured beets. Looks really colourful and healthy.

  15. I had to clear out my photo equipment because our house in on the market and yesterday I realized this is going to be a problem for the next month or so. You succeeded! Love the bright flavors and colors of this dish and your natural light photos are gorgeous!

  16. Of course it is Picture Perfect! Love how you included the beets with the halibut. I can almost taste it.

  17. I LOL! that is fun to hear the behind the scenes happenings. At least you have 4 hands, I usually just have myself. I feel so lucky to have lots of natural light sometimes too much. Your halibut looks wonderful and the orange sauce sounds delicious.

  18. Congrats on being in the top 9, today!

  19. This looks delicious, as well as gorgeous. I was laughing, too, as I've also lost my dining room to photos and swear like a sailor when the set goes flying! Congrats on the top 9!

  20. wow looks so good but would rather eat it lucky doggie got the sauce he he

  21. These photos are really worth all the trouble ! Picture perfect ! I'm sure it tastes divine as it looks !

  22. Funny story! What we do for a good shot ;) The fish looks delicious and beautifully plated.

  23. I made this tonight. How can I say this? I'll use my husband's words, "If I had this in a five star restaurant, I'd think the chef had a good day." WE LOVED IT!