One of my favourite combinations of fresh flavours aside from citrus and chocolate, is tropical fruits with citrus, especially pineapple and lemon. I created a dessert that combined those with the freshness of yoghurt and this week I’ve been playing around with my plating.
One of my goals is to make foods that taste good and are almost too pretty to eat, ALMOST. I definitely think I’ve hit the nail on the head a few times and I’m going to share some of those with you guys today.
To make my citrus fest of a dessert I started out by making a citrus curd. Curd is so easy to make but it does require a close eye to make sure it is the right consistency. To give it another flavour dimension, I reduced the sugar content and added the juice of an orange before leaving it to cool and set.
I then move onto my caramelised pineapple. About a year ago I invested in a brulee torch and it has become such an integral part of my kitchen equipment. I use it to add colour to meringues, toast and crisp up the skin of some of my fish dishes as well as caramelising sugar and fruits.
I freeze some of the curd with some greek yoghurt in a silicon mould to get lovely bite sized mounds. To plate the dish I crumble the sables, place the pineapple batons on, dot the frozen curd and yoghurt then plate it up with some fresh berries for contrast before spooning on some of the chilled curd.
Carefully placed food is all well and good but it isn’t always realistic, it does take time! That being said, it doesn’t have to be carefully placed on a plate to look pretty.
Over the summer I started going to B.EAT STREET in the Great Northern warehouse and ate at so many great places. One place that I took a lot of inspiration from was Indian Canteen. I love the flavours of Asian foods and this was no exception. Packed full of flavour with a great balance so you could actually taste the spices rather than just the heat.
I LOOOOVE the contrast in colour that comes from the cabbage, chutney and raita but one thing I think is important to remember is the fact everything used has a purpose. Something that needs to be remembered when plating up for sure!
I have made a few dishes with colour contrast in mind but my all time favourite that is so simple to make is a breakfast dish. Being on half term has given me the opportunity to make a more leisurely breakfast every single day, so I have… WIN!
Now, I have mentioned a few times that I’m a visual eater so this is has perfect been the perfect opportunity to play around with my plating.
I’m all about a bit of spice and lately I’ve been crushing hard over chirasha, a thai chilli sauce. My favourite brand is Vitasia, it has so much flavour and a subtle heat rather than the kind that’ll smack you round the mouth and leave you sweating. The sweet, sour garlicky and vinegary flavour (complex I know) of the sauce makes it the perfect accompaniment to a huge range of dishes.
So, first things first, the pancakes. I love playing about with pancake recipes and I wanted a lower calorie alternative that was high in fibre. I used plain flour with wheat bran, an egg and skimmed milk. As I wanted them to be multipurpose there is no sugar in the batter. It also means they work well with both savoury and sweet combinations too.
Team the pancakes with grilled pancetta, some spring onions and a fried egg with a soft yolk. The richness of the yolk works so well with the saltiness of the pancetta. I then go all out and splatter the whole thing with chirasha sauce and a light caesar dressing. The whole thing only comes in at 303 calories too!
Plating doesn’t have to be so complicated though! Sometimes it can just be a 30 second job, like with sides. Hummus is one of my favourite sides to tart up because it is so simple. I save some of the whole chick peas to sprinkle over the top and top with smoked paprika and mixed herbs.
As I said earlier, the ingredients have to play a purpose so it’s not just about looking good. The paprika adds an underlying smokey flavour whilst the herbs lift the dish and the whole chickpeas add texture.
It also has the added benefit of allowing your diners to flavour their own hummus as if they want to they can stay away from either the herbs or the paprika… as long as they get in there first! Served alongside some decent sized slices of toasted pitta and it just calls out for people to get stuck in!
Last but not least, colour. Colour livens up a dish and contrasting colour to me, makes it more appealing and mouthwatering. I follow @cheffrancisco on Instagram and the images he posts never fail to leave my mouth watering, seriously. All that food is beyond beautiful and he doesn’t just post his own he regrams others too.
I try and replicate some of the plating techniques he shows. Now I’m not quite haute cuisine but I think I’m giving it a good go. Plating is mainly about practice for me, trying something until I find what works then running with it. I use ingredients for their flavour, colour and texture.
It’s amazing what a swipe of sauce and a drizzle of sesame oil can do right?