This may sound silly, but garnishes may be my favorite part of cooking…creating the decor of the plate.
I know serious chefs insist that the flavor of food always has to take precedence over the design- and I agree! But I still love (as my friend David says) those few moments after finishing the dish and before eating it, appreciating the beauty…
I just thought I’d share a few of my favorite techniques:
Once when serving a whole lamb shank, I got the idea to hollow out the protruding bone and stick whatever fresh herbs I’ve used while cooking the meat…the bone acts like a thin vase to overflowing fresh green herbs, its really lovely!
Something I’ve seen Jamie Oliver do with his soups, is to place a toasted, thin slice of bread on the top of the bowl (like a bridge over the soup), and top the middle of the bread with a garnish-for example: sauteed mushrooms. top that with a tiny bit of color (maybe a dainty trim of parsley)- this transforms a simple soup into something very special.
Here are the instructions for the caramel hazelnuts above: (you could also use macadamia nuts).
1) Stick a wooden skewer on the top of the hazelnut-make sure its secure, but still be delicate.
2) dip into warm homemade caramel, and lift straight up-let some excess caramel drip, until there is just a thin drip of caramel under the hazelnut.
3) delicately move the skewer at a 90 degree angle on a shelf of some sort securing them with a book or something to stay, while the caramel has room to hang and dry under it- it should look like a long thin string of caramel under the hazelnut.
4) once dried, carefully remove the skewer and top on a cake or individual cakes-whatever you like!
They should be used the same day they are made, and stored uncovered…
(If caramel gets hard, just warm up a bit and continue)
(also you can make different flavors of caramel-if youre making a tropical themed dessert, make pineapple flavored caramel with macadamia’s-get creative!)
(pictures below courtesy of marthastewart.com!)
This is definitely impressive for a dinner party. it looks much harder than it actually is.
Garnishes do not need to be used just for fancy dinner parties. Go ahead even when cooking for friends or family on a casual weeknight. Sometimes such simple touches can really enhance the artistry of any everyday dining experience.
There is a whole world of different techniques, these are just a mere few, and im sure i will post more another day…:)