Food and lifestyle Photographer, blogger and award-winning cookbook author Katie Quinn Davies has wowed food-fans with her mouth-watering food imagery and recipes ever since she set up her hugely popular blog What Katie Ate, which she writes from her home in Sydney.
This year, Sainsbury’s has collaborated with Katie to produce a suite of beautiful Christmas food photography. We caught up with her on all things festive including her secret to perfect spuds and what to do with leftover turkey.
What’s Christmas like in your household?
Since living in Sydney I’ve tended to go for Aussie-style Christmas fare of sumptuous seafood (I live very close to the amazing Sydney Fish Markets). Christmas Day is more of a grazing day, starting with a simple brekkie - maybe a really nice eggs benedict - then a light seafood lunch with prawns tossed in chilli, garlic and lemon with some gorgeous locally-sourced fresh, crusty bread, served with a good Prosecco.
Later on in the day I’ll tend to serve up a big platter of gorgeous cheeses, cured meats, pickled veg, breads, patés etc. For dessert I love to make a pavlova – either with chocolate and berries or with apple, butterscotch caramel and toasted hazelnuts.
Where are you spending Christmas this year?
I hope to spend Christmas with my sister and her family in Dublin. I really enjoy all the traditional run-up - Grafton Street in central Dublin has a magical atmosphere and I love having a few cosy pints with close friends in some of the traditional pubs, after all the last minute shopping is done and dusted.
It will be the first time in 10 years I have had been in the Northern hemisphere for Christmas, so am really looking forward to a cosy, traditional dinner and all the trimmings. My mum made the best roast potatoes EVER, and me and my sis have carried on her traditional recipe.
My sister always cooks an incredible turkey with bacon on top and a glazed and studded ham, the latter which she slices really finely for a light lunch on Boxing Day with homemade pickles, chutneys and cheeses - a bit like a Ploughman’s lunch.
Any foodie tips on how to make Christmas lunch extra special?
Prepare as much as you can the night before to make Christmas Day as relaxed as possible. I’m not a huge fruitcake fan, so I prepare a chocolate berry cheesecake or pavlova the night before to avoid being stuck in the kitchen all day on the 25th.
If I’m making a traditional dinner, I like to spruce up my roasted carrots with some toasted hazelnuts, fresh thyme and maybe a drizzle of blood orange juice.
To spruce up Brussels sprouts I combine them with some pan-fried pancetta cut into small pieces (or bacon lardons), and some toasted pine nuts add a bit more texture and interest. To make, cook sprouts until al-dente, drain them, cut them in half and then fry them all up in a pan with some olive oil, lemon juice and seasoning to get them crispy and flavoursome, then toss in the bacon and nuts and turn them out into a serving bowl. They look fantastic and take the edge off the ‘boring old sprout’ connotation.
For the turkey I love to experiment with stuffings - in particular I adore my Pomegranate, cherry, nut, herb and orange stuffing. Pomegranates are one of my favourite things to both photograph and cook with. I love ripping a few apart and serving around the turkey, both the fruit and their jewel-like seeds look so divine, pretty and Christmassy as a garnish.
Any tips on something different to do with leftover turkey?
I normally use it to make Boxing Day canapés. Prepare a spice blend of ground star anise, crushed peppercorns, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, sea salt, a little olive oil and fresh orange juice. Combine it all together with the turkey in a small saucepan, then serve the flavoured meat spooned into baby Witlof leaves (also known as chicory) or thinly sliced and toasted Turkish bread along with half a teaspoon or so of leftover cranberry sauce, some crumbled Stilton cheese and topped with a sprinkling of finely chopped pecans, some baby herbs and a fine drizzle of good olive or walnut oil.
Tell us about the inspiration behind this year’s Sainsbury’s Christmas photography
I was totally flattered and delighted to be asked to shoot the Sainsbury’s Christmas campaign this year. I wanted to approach it in a similar style to my two What Katie Ate cookbooks - keeping everything looking really attainable and real and making the food [very] sumptuous and irresistible.
We, as a team, all worked together to produce a look that was warm, inviting and cosy yet not typical of generic Christmas advertising. We avoided the usual accents like holly, baubles and other expected Christmas connotations.
Basically, we wanted to let the food speak for itself. It was an amazing experience working with the entire team and one I will never forget.
What do you hope to get from Father Christmas this year?
Some guitar lessons from a really good teacher (preferably Noel Gallagher please Santa Claus). I have been trying to learn the guitar on my own for the past year, and am failing miserably!