Good Neighbor Q & A: Can you suggest some food presentation pointers?
I’m a bit of a minimalist when it comes to food presentation. That is, I try not to over handle or over mix food, and I usually go for recipes that don’t have an overwhelming amount of ingredients. Below are a few pointers that I usually try to stay pretty close to when I’m preparing food for home or for travel. I hope they help!
• Simplicity is key. Don’t be afraid to let a beautiful platter of sliced tomatoes (above) stand on their own with some fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil. Let Mother Nature do the work!
• Stay true to the shape of the fruit or vegetable. Rather than cutting everything into a uniform dice, try to show off their natural shape. You want to be able to tell what it is. So if you’re slicing strawberries, slice from top to bottom so they retain their strawberry shape. And remember, a mix of different shapes is always beautiful.
• Don’t over chop your herbs. All herbs have such beautiful and unique shapes; don’t chop them into oblivion where they’re not even recognizable.
• Think color. Two contrasting colors is a good rule of thumb to go by, unless, of course, you are serving a big platter of grilled asparagus. This doesn’t need another color. But if you have a big bowl of white and pale green coleslaw, think about adding some grated carrot and chopped dark green parsley.
• If you’re entertaining at home, when in doubt, opt for white or plain serving platters or bowls. Again, simplicity wins out when it comes to showing off the food.
• For dishes that are going to travel, check out these beautiful boxes. Food sometimes suffers when it travels so it always helps to deliver it in an attractive disposable container.
• Freshly ground black pepper can go a long way. Let’s face it, hummus, mashed potatoes and creamy potato salads, for instance, are delicious but not the most appetizing to look at. Top them off with some cracked pepper, and you have a whole new ball game.
• Only garnish with what’s in the dish. For example, if that potato salad has chopped parsley in it, then top it with a sprig of parsley not a twist of orange and a cherry!
• Keep it natural looking not over handled. As tempting as it may be, don’t smooth the tops of dips like guacamole….best to leave it natural and chunky looking. There’s beauty in imperfection.
• The platter: arranging beautiful ingredients on a platter is easy as it is impressive. For example, nothing is more beautiful than a platter of prosciutto topped with some fresh cantaloupe pieces, fresh mint leaves, a drizzle of olive oil and some freshly ground black pepper. Simply let the ingredients do the work for you.
• For plain looking cakes, a dusting of confectioners sugar goes a long way.
• Recipe choice: try to select recipes that in your mind will be attractive, ie. that have different colors, shapes and textures. Of course, this shouldn’t rule out casseroles! While they are often not the most attractive looking, they are often the exception to any rule because they taste so good. This is when that sprig of parsley really comes in handy!