• "Plating food" refers to placing food on a plate in as appealing a manner as possible. Many cooks give short shrift to this concept, but let me assure you, presentation is a very important part of the dining experience because we eat with our eyes first.• One of the things we all most enjoy about dining at an expensive restaurant is that moment when our entree arrives, decked out in all its glory. We marvel at what the chef has wrought, and cant wait to dig in.• Honestly, if the presentation is excellent, the food need not be. Plating food properly is that important . . . or nearly so.• Remember "BUFF" when plating: Balance, Unity, Focus and Flow
The Plate• Bigger is better: Crowding food is a no-no. Large plates allow for separation between items, which lets the inherent beauty of each one shine.• Color me neutral: When plating food, use classic white or earth tones; these will complement any color of food.
The Food• What grows together goes together: Preparing fresh ingredients that are in season doesnt just taste better, it looks better. Seasonal produce tends to fall into both culinary and visual harmony.
The SetupClock it: The conventional "smiley face" (starch at ten oclock, meat at two oclock, andvegetables at six oclock) is always a safe bet.Focus, focus: For more drama, "find the focal point" of the meal (usually the protein) andelevate it by placing it on or leaning it up against the starch.Get saucy: Spoon sauce under the meat rather than on top. This allows the meats crustto stay crisp while also offering a contrasting circular shape beneath.
Tips For Plating• Plan it. Sketch the presentation to help you visualize the plate. Assemble a "practice" plate to help decide the final presentation.• Keep it simple and quick. You want the food to look attractive, but not overwhelming or silly. Dont try to build towers or other elaborate structures when plating food. And remember: Unless you have a dozen cooks at your disposal, you will need to arrange the food on the plate quickly in order to serve it warm.
• Everything should be edible. Dont garnish with large sprigs or spears of rosemary or other herbs. garnishing tips• Start arranging food in the center of the plate and build outward. This improves appearance, and also helps prevent the server from sticking his or her thumb in the food.• Reserve the front of the plate for the most attractive and appetizing food.
• Add height to the plate. Do this simply by mounding potatoes, rice or other starch (make a mound, not a mountain) at the back of the plate and leaning other vegetables or meat against it. Generally, the presentation should begin low at the front of the plate and grow taller at the rear.• Think color. If your food is basically brown or white, brighten the plate with colorful garnishes and vegetables. A sprig of fresh cilantro or flat leaf parsley, a few rings of sliced green onion, a wedge of fruit, a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds, or a small chili pepper are just a few garnishes that add color. Make sure your garnish suits the recipe.
• Serve according to design. If someone helps you serve, show them how to position the plate correctly in front of your guest.
Tips For Trays• When making up a tray, be sure to separate the colors. Try not to put different foods of the same color next to each other.• Trays also look best when arranged symmetrically. Strong lines add eye appeal. It adds energy and movement. Keep in mind that balance is important, particularly when making a round tray. food presentation tips
• A centerpiece is also important. Hollowed- out foods can make wonderful bowls for your dips. Try hollowing out peppers, tomatoes, round bread loaves, cabbage, or eggplant. Serve fruit salad in a pineapple, cantalope, or watermelon.• Or, for winter, try serving soup in a pumpkin, or rice or stuffing in a baked squash half. Edible bowls are both beautiful and functional; they create interest and reduce waste
Garnishing• Is an art that can easily be acquired by following these few simple rules. It can be done with little or no additional time, effort, or money expenditure on the part of the culinary artist, and the results are far- reaching. Not only will the homemaker derive joy from the art, but the members of her family will sense the love and the thoughtfulness which prompted those extra little touches.
1. Generally speaking, garnishes should be edible. However, there are a few exceptions, as will be seen in the following chapters.2. Beauty is obtained through simplicity. Garnishes should appear natural, fresh, and dainty-never overworked or overdone.
• 3. All garnishes should be suitable in character and size to the food adorned. For example, a pickle fan would be out of place if served next to a piece of cake, just as a large calla lily arrangement would be out of proportion on a small platter.• 4. The flavor of edible garnishes should be in keeping with the food. Bland foods require more highly seasoned garnishes.
• 5. A few small groups of garnish are often more attractive than a continuous decorative scheme. For example, to carry out a Christmas theme around a salad mold, green-tinted mayonnaise may be fashioned into the shape of leaves with specks of candied cherry to simulate holly arranged at intervals instead of forming a continuous border. Elaborate wheels, flowers, chains, diamonds, or circles are lovely if carefully done. Use either whole or clean-cut pieces of fruit or vegetables and arrange in an orderly design around ring or loaf molds.
6. A garnish must be neatly arranged in a fashion that will enhance the food with which it is to be used. A flat- spreading garnish will make a mold appear smaller whereas perky lettuce will give it height.7. Colors should harmonize-never clash. Small quantities of the more vivid natural colors may be used to accent a food. In using artificial coloring, great care must be exercised in producing tints that will be in keeping with the occasion and at the same time produce a pleasing effect rather than one which is repellent. Contrasting colors usually produce an artistic picture. So much of our food is neutral that a wide range of color treatment is permitted.
8. Garnishes which are too highly seasoned are not in good taste.9. The serving dish as well as the garnish used must be considered. A beautiful dish serves as an accessory to the food. Do not hide it.10. Temperature is a factor that will make or mar a garnish. To serve cold sliced frankfurters on a hot soup as a garnish would be most unsatisfactory. Any frozen food that is used as a garnish should be sufficiently cold to hold its shape.
• 11. The consistencies of garnish and food can be contrasted with excellent results, such as sauce over molded food.• 12. Garnishes need not be expensive. Properly used, almost any leftover material can do wonders to make a drab or uninteresting dish take on a regal aspect.• 13. Garnishes should not be used to disguise deficiencies or food of poor quality. 14. The setting must be viewed as a whole. Harmonious plate or platter arrangements can be ruined if they clash with the table color scheme or the lighting of the room
How to Use a Cardboard Stencil:Cut a piece of medium stiff cardboard in the shape butslightly larger than the food to be decorated. Trace a designor the outline of some specific object on the cardboard andcut out the design with scissors or a razor blade in a safetyholder. The design should be clean-cut, with no raggededges.If the food to be decorated is dry or firm, the cardboardstencil can rest on the surface; if it is soft and moist, holdthe stencil a fraction of an inch above the surface. Sprinklethe garnish over the design, making sure that all parts ofthe design are completely filled in. Remove the stencilcarefully without disturbing the design.
How to Frost a Glass:To frost glass stemware, brush the rim of eachglass with lemon juice or slightly beaten eggwhite. Dip the rim in powdered sugar and letdry. If necessary, dip a second or third time.
How to Unmold Gelatin:Dip the mold in warm water long enough forthe gelatin to loosen. If necessary, loosen theedges with a thin knife. Place the serving plateover the mold and invert. If the gelatin doesnot come out immediately, wrap a hot towelaround the form and after a few seconds givethe mold a hard shake.
How to Use Fruit or Vegetable Coloring:Pure fruit or vegetable coloring can be purchasedin liquid or powdered form. The coloring shouldbe added a little at a time, mixing thoroughlyafter each addition, until the desired shade isobtained. Add coloring to the ingredients in theliquid state (that is, before whipping or freezing).To tint solid foods (such as pears or hard-cookedeggs), add the coloring to water or syrup andthen place the food in the colored solution until itbecomes the right shade. Solid foods can also bepainted by using the pure fruit or vegetable dyes.A paintbrush should be kept especially for use inthe kitchen.
How to Make a Paper Pastry Tube: Use a stiff sheet of paper (8"X 11") and rollinto a funnel. To prevent the funnel fromunrolling, fasten with gummed tape. Cut off asmuch of the tip as is necessary for the size ofopening desired. Fill the funnel about two-thirds full and force through the tip bysqueezing the large end of the funnel.