A plate should contain colored vegetables and/or meat, deliciously arranged and dressed in sauce.
I am not a very traditional cook. I search for interesting recipes in certain books, I watch TV shows, or I "steal" recipes from restaurants by tasting and guessing the ingredients.
But what I love most is to share all those with my friends and to photograph the steps of each new recipe.
If you wish to photograph food and you don't have all the necessary equipment, it's better to think first at the available ambient light. If lucky, choose the natural light coming from 1 source (a window let's say). It will increase the contrast, the luminosity of the colors and it will make the plate more attractive to the eyes.
Be careful to choose the correct white balance from the beginning. I use the custom settings or judging by the light source I choose directly the color temperature (in K degrees).
When one (or more) cooler source of light is available instead of natural or flash light, my suggestion is to change the white balance. Also to move the plate (if the source of light is fixed and coming from above, perpendicularly) until you find an angle that will provide a game of lights and shadows. That will make the dish present all forms and levels.
Using instruments - a spoon, a fork, a knife - will bring a plus to your composition.
Use herbs. A touch of oregano or parsely will give contrast and elegance to your plate.
And more than anything, use your imagination. You can create while cooking and cook while creating.