The presentation is a seduction word; it refers to a food’s visual appeal and includes everything from planning the menu items to the final results, hopefully, a beautiful and colorful plate. Serving great-looking foods gives the person cooking a feeling of satisfaction when they see the utter delight in the eyes of those eating it! Choose textures, colors, flavors, and presentation styles that complement each other. People eat first with their eyes, then with their palates. Food in dazzling colors presented through the perfect shapes and amounts can enhance one’s appetite. You’ll learn to create spectacular food presentations with a few simple tricks that will transfer to any meal you make.
Seducing the Food Senses
Artistic food presentation is the arrangement of garnishes and the main dish in such a way that they create a high visual appeal. You can arrange foods such as lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers on a plate, topping it with carrots and parsley for a colorful arrangement; through the image you create, you seduce your lover’s senses. When preparing and serving seductive meals, always attempt to keep the idea of a gourmet dish in mind. Using an oversized plate dramatically enhances the presentation and gives you a bit of room to throw on some pizzazz!
When your feelings of romance and your skills in cooking mingle with the flavors you splice together; you experience the marriage of seduction and food. Presentation and cooking heighten the experience of each other and can quickly turn into a time of bonding with that special someone.
In the flavoring of prepared dishes we Americans – people, as the French say, “of one sauce” – might well learn a lesson from the example of the English matron who usually considers her kitchen incomplete without a dozen or more sweet herbs, either powdered, or in decoction, or preserved in both ways.
A glance into a French or a German culinary department would probably show more than a score; but a careful search in an American kitchen would rarely reveal as many as half a dozen, and in the great majority probably only parsley and sage would be brought to light. Yet these humble plants possess the power of rendering even unpalatable and insipid dishes piquant and appetizing, and this, too, at a surprisingly low cost. Indeed, most of them may be grown in an out-of-the-way corner of the garden, or if no garden be available, in a box of soil upon a sunny windowsill – a method adopted by many foreigners living in tenement houses in New York and Jersey City.
Keep the concepts of what you consider sensual in your mind as you cook. Then, think about the correlation to the taste, smell, and texture of foods; match these to the perfect garnish.
Visual Focal Points
Arranging food with other items to enhance its look and color creates a visual focal point on the plate. This applies to appetizers, salads, entrées, and desserts, and any course in between you can conceive of. With a little splash of imagination, you can create some romantically suggestive presentations that will get your lover daydreaming through dessert.
You want to be sure that the flavors of your food and garnish go together; for example, a sprig of cilantro should not adorn a dish that does not include cilantro as an ingredient. The person you serve may not even eat the garnish, but even the idea of mixing uncomplimentary flavors can be off-putting. Garnish your meal with leftovers from your ingredients, and use an odd number of food pieces on the plate, since odd numbers are more pleasing to the eye.
Garnishes can be placed around, under, or on top of food, depending on the dish. They can be as simple as sprigs of parsley or as intricate as carved vegetables in seductive shapes. Simple ingredients such as lemons, onions, or radishes can add suggestive visual appeal to almost any dish. Garnishes can also complement the flavor of the dish, as with paprika and chopped parsley. A confetti of fine diced raw vegetables, sprinkled on the food and rim of plate, is an attractive option.
Garnishes apply to the table, too; complement each food with the dish in which you serve it. For example, don’t lay breadsticks on a flat plate; use a tall wine glass or attractive flower vase to serve them. Use your good china at dinner and your meal will feel much more gourmet.
Drizzles, Splashes, and Garnishes
When applying sauces to your dishes, you can get elaborate with squeeze bottles; however, a regular teaspoon or other small utensil while work wonders for drizzling a sauce as a garnish. What sauces are good to drizzle? Use intensely-flavored oils (like basil or red pepper oil), dark balsamic vinegar, thickened soy sauce, a beaten salad dressing, a watered-down seasoned mayonnaise, or a fruit puree. Sauces are especially important to match on flavor with the dish, so be sure to taste the sauce with a bit of the food before you pour the sauce all over.
Garnishes and other forms of visual presentation help you go beyond the call of duty to prepare something special for your someone special. As professional chefs know and use to their advantage, most presentations only look difficult to create when they are really rather simple, yet they have the power to make even a simple evening look special.
Here are just a few presentation ideas from the rest of this tome:
- Mini Flowered Ice Sculpture
- Champagne Centerpiece
- Chocolate Delights
- Rose Petal Enchantments
- Candied Flower Petals
- Sensual Rose Butter
- Drizzles, Splashes
- Bowls and Baskets
- Heart Shaped Croutons
- Color Your Greens
- Fashioning Vegetable Designs
- Garnish Shapes
- Endless Sauce
- Roasted-Garlic Delights
- Fire-Roasted Peppers
- Dusting and Frosting
- White Glove Service
- Elegance of Paper Doilies
- Variety of Exotic Lettuces
- Exotic Baby Leaf Blends
- Exotic Edibles
- Distinctive Exotic Olives
- Rose Water
- Sculpted Delicate Gems
- Quixotic Lemon and Herb Risotto with a Gold Leaf
- Gallery of Dessert Sauces
- Scripting Buttercream Icing Messages on Dessert Plate
- Encrusted Crystallized Fruit (Frosted)
- Dark and White Chocolate Rose Leaves
- White or Dark Chocolate Slivers and Curls
- White or Dark Chocolate Cutouts
- Petite Cherry Flowers
- Web of Sleek Sugar Lace
When cooking vegetables remember textures, colors, and flavors, use techniques like steaming, stir frying, and grilling to keep their colors bright and their textures firm; this will also help the food retain the most nutrients. Sprinkle a few toasted sesame seeds or almonds over the cooked vegetables for visual interest, crunch, and flavor. Rethink the way food is served. Instead of spooning sauce over vegetables, pour some onto the serving dish and artfully arrange the vegetables on top.
The principle rule to keep in mind is that the dish and its decoration should have a seductive look to them. For example, red pepper diced finely and sprinkled on top of a dish adds startling color; try slicing extra fruit and laying it in a fan shape next to parsley or fresh herb sprigs.
Brushing up on essential food prep and kitchen techniques goes a long way towards streamlining your cooking efforts. Understanding basic knife skills, uncomplicated prep techniques, and how ingredients and flavorings should mingle together can make the difference in having a delightful kitchen experience.
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