Students currently pursuing culinary certificates should be aware of the fact that there’s far more to designing a beautiful dish than what actually goes into the meal that you’re cooking. While finding the correct balance of flavor, texture and nourishment is deeply important, one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of preparing food is its presentation. An improperly presented meal can lose much of its luster, but a well arranged dish can bring even the best tasting entrees to new heights. Before you entertain dinner guests or cook for your family, take some time to consider these principles of food presentation:
In order to develop an understanding of how to properly plate a dish, it’s important to understand that different sections of the plate you’re serving food on are actually intended for various purposes. Looking at the plate from the diner’s perspective, imagine the face of an analog clock. The space between 12 and three o’clock should be one section, with the areas between three and nine and then nine to 12 operating as the other two main areas. The largest space at the bottom of the plate (three o’clock to nine o’clock) is intended for your main protein, so any chicken, beef or other meat will best be placed here. It should be accented by a starch, such as a roll, potatoes or other foods placed in the space between nine and 12. Finally, your vegetable(s) should be plated between 12 and three o’clock for ideal aesthetic value.
Finer points and extras
The importance of the three main zones of the plate is only underscored when the finer points of presentation are taken into consideration. For example, you should always choose a plate that properly fits your meal, without leaving too much empty space. Further, you’ll want to do your best to select food groups with complementary colors; you can even use seasonal foods that reflect the hues of the time of year to make your meal extra festive. In arranging the different food groupings on your plate, consider the balance of the meal as a whole. You don’t want any one side of the plate to weigh far more heavily than the other.
Taking these points into account when you prepare your next meal will ensure that you end up with a dish that is as beautiful as it is delicious.
Infographic Transcript for The Perfect Plate
Expert plating is the perfect accompaniment to classically trained cooking skills. Here’s a look at some of the core principles that go into making a dish look just as stunning as it tastes.
Classical plating places the three primary elements of the dish in specific parts of the plate:
Main protein: between 3 and 9 o’clock
Starch: between 9 and 12 o’clock
Vegetable: between 12 and 3 o’clock
Emphasis: The primary ingredient in the dish should take up the most space on the plate and attract the eye.
Balance: Think about the plate as a whole and avoid weighting one side heavier than the other.
Contrast: Place contrasting shapes and colors beside each other for visual appeal.
Color: Choose complementary colors or create a focal point with a single burst of bright color.
Texture: The various textures of the dish should be visible in the components of the plate.
Simplicity: Avoid overcrowding by using as few elements as necessary for the dish to feel complete.
Plate: Choose a plate that fits the size and arrangement of the dish without leaving too much empty space.
Garnish: Choose an edible accent that provides extra color and texture throughout the dish (rather than in one spot only).
Sauce: Get Creative—Plate sauces beneath your main protein, drizzle across the plate or create drops that provide visual interest.
Shape: Sculpt the elements of your plate to create height, structure and organization.
If you’re a student in an online culinary course and you come across a recipe that calls for chives, scallions or green onions, take note that these three popular ingredients are not the same.
During the spring, these plants and herbs make their way into many culinary academy dishes, so it’s important to make sure that you know the difference between the three for your seasonal favorites.
Scallions and Green Onions
According to Chow.com, green onions and scallions come from the same genus and species, so they are remarkably similar. Scallions are basically onions that are harvested young while the shoots are still green and fresh. While scallions and green onions are of the same species, the variety of scallions known as “bunching onions” do not form a bulb.
Scallions, or “bunching onions,” are a special type of green onion that do not have a bulb.
Other green onions are harvested before the bulbs are fully formed, giving them a strong and robust flavor that is much more pungent than traditional yellow, red or white onions. These onions are popular in ethnic cuisine and are delicious when grilled. They have a mild and sweet flavor, and are the perfect addition to salads, omelets, and stir-fries.
Chives are a completely different species altogether. In culinary terms, chives are really classified as an herb and often used as a garnish. Along with parsley, tarragon, and chervil, they are a key ingredient of fines herbes, essential to french haute cuisine.
Chives are classified as an herb and used extensively in French haute cuisine.
Botanically, chives are an aromatic grass with pretty pale lilac flowers, which are also edible.
Chives are popular atop deviled eggs, in omelettes and other brunch favorites, and in soups or salads. They are also a delicious addition to soft cheeses, and can be stirred into soft butter as an alternative to garlic butter. Cook only briefly, and serve immediately, or the flavor will be lost.
Chive flowers are beautiful, flavorful, and often overlooked in cooking. Simply pull the flower petals off of the stems and sprinkle them onto your dish. Chive flowers have a slightly milder taste than the chive greens and add lovely color.
Buying and Storing
When buying chives, look for plump, uniformly green stems with no brown spots or signs of wilting. When buying green onions and scallions, choose those with crisp, bright green tops and a firm white base.
To store, wrap the roots in a slightly damp (not wet) paper towel, and put the rest into a loose plastic bag. Use within seven days.
The next time you’re at the grocery store picking out products for your dishes, know these differences between these small – but important – spring favorites.
Do you ever look through your pantry and fridge wondering what you could possibly make with what seems to be an impossible mystery basket off of “Chopped”? Well, there’s an app for that – several, in fact! As a culinary academy student, you’re learning what flavors and textures work together. Here are seven apps that can help:
Allrecipes is available on multiple devices, including tablet and smartphone. You can find recipes by browsing through categories such as dietary restrictions, ingredients, cuisine type, meal type, season and cooking technique.
Searching by ingredient allows you to set your parameters based on what you have available.
The easiest search is with the “dinner spinner,” a tool that lets you quickly spin through a combination of options by dish type, ingredients on-hand, and how long before the meal is ready.
In fact, the app lets you list ingredients to include or omit in recipe results. That way, if you don’t have chicken in the fridge, the app won’t show any recipes that contain chicken, even if you have all of the other necessary ingredients for a certain dish.
Save your recipes and ingredients by creating an account – you can log in anywhere, including on your phone, tablet or computer.
With more than 500,000 recipes in its database, BigOven is certainly, well, big.
This app lets you navigate and brainstorm in a number of ways. For instance, check out the Ideas section to browse through meal inspiration. There you’ll find categories like “Use Up Leftovers,” which curates recipes based on reusing ingredients.
The Collections area includes recipe ideas for healthy breakfasts, healthy snacks, meat-free, soups, low-carb, and more. Most recipes come with nutritional facts that include the number of calories per serving.
The Grocery List section allows you to sort by ingredient and keep tabs on what you’ll need to make a certain meal. Quickly add items to your list for easy shopping the next time you’re out.
The Planner lets you come up with dishes for the future so you’re not stuck trying to compose a meal with random ingredients again.
Epicurious is an app that’s both beautiful to look at and easy to use. You can toggle through ingredients to find recipe ideas, many of which feature photos of the finished dish and instructional videos to help you along the way.
Quickly browse recipes by adding filters such as “leftovers,” “dinner,” and any dietary restrictions such as “gluten free,” “dairy free,” “keto friendly” and so on.
Next, add the main ingredient you wish to search for in the search area, and then sort your list by the highest rated recipes, the percentage of users who would make it again, and other criteria.
The app also includes a kitchen timer to help you cook ingredients to perfection even without a recipe, and a tool that finds local, seasonal ingredients.
Cookpad is part recipe finder, part social platform. You can search for recipes by ingredients and share what you’re making.
Invented a fantastic recipe you want to share? Post it publicly along with an image so other users can test it out. List the ingredients, snap an image, and write your story. If people like what you’re posting, they can follow you.
Of course, you can also follow people who make recipes that match your preferences, and even ask them questions.
To start a conversation, go to the chat area and turn on notifications so you know when others reply. You can also search conversations to see what others are talking about, and join in.
And people are talking on Cookpad from around the world! Founded more than 20 years ago in Japan, the app has more than 100 million users in 23 countries. In addition to English, Cookpad is available in Spanish, French, Italian, and 20 other languages.
Other search terms you can use include dietary restrictions, recipe names and holidays. Basically, any category you can think of.
Tasty became popular for its overhead food videos with instructions for each step as you prepare a dish. But it’s also a handy tool to search for recipes you can make with whatever you already have on hand.
Search by ingredients, then add filters such as “dinner,” “brunch,” and any dietary restrictions. You can also search by occasion, whether it’s date night, weeknight, or game day.
For the easiest meals, search for “5 ingredients or less” and “under 30 minutes.”
Once you make your selection, the recipe video plays, displaying ingredient measures and other instructions right on the screen, in sync with the video. For efficiency, the videos play at a faster speed, but you can pause and unpause the videos as you go.
Some of Tasty’s most-watched videos are reportedly those featuring cheese, steak, bacon and pasta—perhaps ingredients you have on hand now?
America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) is America’s most-beloved home cook television program, featuring episodes such as, “The Perfect Cookie,” “Just Add Apples,” and “All Chocolate, All The Time.” So it’s no surprise that the ATK app is quickly becoming the digital tool of choice for serious home cooks.
The catch? It’s only available to members of ATK’s online cooking school. Still, for the serious home cook, it’s a great option, with full courses featuring special instruction from ATK and Escoffier chefs. So be sure to use this app only when you have time to learn and refine your technique.
Search by main ingredient, such as pasta or vegetables, level of difficulty, and recipe type. Keep track of the courses you’ve completed, and take advantage of your exclusive access to world-class chefs and instructors.
Two Culinary Giants Announce One-on-One Chef-Focused Online Cooking Classes
The ultimate classes for all things culinary have never been more accessible thanks to a joint venture between Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts Chicago and America’s Test Kitchen with the announcement of their new online cooking classes.
Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, one of the most famous names in cuisine and culinary education, and America’s Test Kitchen, one of the most trusted authorities in recipe development and instruction, are joining forces to offer some of the most tried and true home recipes and technique-centered content available online. Escoffier professional chefs will offer additional one-on-one support and guidance for those subscribing to access any of the more than 230 online culinary classes. For details on the catalog of classes including advanced knife skills, feeding a crowd, bakery-style pastries, sauces 101 and weeknight meals, visit escoffieronline.com.
“This professional pairing is the ultimate gourmand dream team,” said Tracy Lorenz, president and chief executive officer of Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. “We’re excited to offer this ‘all-you-can-cook’ online subscription for cooking classes under the name Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts Home Gourmet powered by America’s Test Kitchen. Subscribers get unprecedented access to an Escoffier professional chef for everything from trouble shooting recipes, to gaining additional support and perspectives to sharing ideas.”
Cost structure for classes is $19.99 per month for all 230+ courses. Subscribers have access to new courses that are added on a continual basis. Classes also include recommendations on need-to-know equipment, ingredient reviews, interactive tools, and exercises designed to help track progress along with more than 5,000 photos, 200 videos and guidance from professional chef instructors. Students can also email chefs with specific questions and join online communities of fellow aspiring home chefs.
“Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts is one of the most well-known and prestigious names in culinary arts and professional culinary education, and through its innovative offerings, continues to guide and inspire the culinary world,” said David Nussbaum, president and CEO of America’s Test Kitchen. “We are thrilled to partner with Escoffier on a best-in-class offering that will help to take home cooking to the next level.”
Tutorials are led by America’s Test Kitchen personalities and Escoffier professionals including:
• Bridget Lancaster, host of America’s Test Kitchen
• Jack Bishop, chief creative officer at America’s Test Kitchen
• Elle Simone, Christie Morrison and Ashley Moore, cast members of America’s Test Kitchen
• Miles Mitchell, chief academic officer, Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts Chicago
• Catherine Stanton, chef instructor, Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts Chicago
Chances are, some of your customers are carefully watching what they eat, and not just for diet reasons. Millions of people have food hypersensitivities, which means they can have uncomfortable or even fatal reactions to specific foods. Students learning the culinary arts in Boulder will explore the many types of food hypersensitivities and how to handle them in their classes. Here, we’ll discuss how to keep your kitchen safe.
Food allergy vs. intolerance
Food hypersensitivities can be categorized into allergies and intolerances. Though they may seem similar, food allergies and intolerances are very different, both in terms of what causes the reaction and the type and severity of the reaction itself.
Allergies cause an immune reaction, in which the body recognizes the foreign substance (such as the proteins found in peanuts or shellfish) as a threat, according to Medical News Today. As a response, the body releases chemicals such as histamine, which can lead to a wide range of reactions like throat tightness, hives, swelling, coughing or vomiting, KidsHealth explained.
Dairy is a common food intolerance, but it shouldn’t be confused with an allergy to cow’s milk.
Allergic reactions can be mild in some cases, but very severe and even life-threatening in others. Even if a person’s previous reaction to an allergen was mild, there’s always a chance that the next one will be much more consequential. Additionally, people who have food allergies will likely experience a reaction after any contact with the food, even a tiny amount.
Intolerances primarily lead to digestive issues and are usually caused by the lack of a specific enzyme that’s needed to break down a particular protein. For example, lactose intolerance is caused by a lack of lactase, which allows the body to digest milk protein.
The effects of certain intolerances can be reduced with treatment; in the case of lactose intolerance, taking lactase pills or drinking lactose-free milk can allow someone to enjoy dairy without experiencing discomfort. Other intolerances, such as Celiac disease (an intolerance to the protein gluten, commonly found in wheat and similar grains) don’t have enzyme pills available to ease symptoms.
Common food allergies and intolerances
Knowing the most common food allergies and intolerances can help chefs develop menu items that can be enjoyed by most guests. According to HealthLine, the eight most common allergies are:
Cow’s milk; this is different than lactose intolerance and usually doesn’t affect older children or adults.
Tree nuts, including Brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, Macadamia nuts, pistachios, pine nuts and walnuts.
Shellfish, including shrimp, lobster, scallops, squid, crayfish and prawns.
Salicylates, which are naturally found in some vegetables, fruits and honey.
Amines;vthese are often found in fermented foods and include histamine.
FODMAPs, which stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols, referring to short-chain carbohydrates.
Sulfites, which are commonly used as preservatives.
Keeping your kitchen safe from cross-contamination
Developing a few menu options that are free of the above 16 common causes of food hypersensitivities is one way to make your restaurant or food business safe and enjoyable for all your customers.
Beyond that, keeping your kitchen clean and free of cross-contamination risks is essential. Remember, even a small amount of a protein that causes a negative reaction can have large consequences for someone with a sensitivity.
Follow these tips to keep your kitchen safer for all customers:
Use dedicated equipment for allergen-free ingredients
Boiling gluten-free pasta in water previously used to boil noodles that contain gluten can cause a negative reaction for someone with Celiac disease. Using dedicated equipment, such as a specific gluten-free pot for making pasta, reduces the chances of cross-contamination.
Wash surfaces and tools after exposing them to allergens
After you use a knife to chop up almonds, using it to cut onions could expose a customer to tree nut proteins. Wash cutting boards, knives and any other surface that touched an allergen after finishing that task.
Carefully store your ingredients
Accidentally dropping a few peanuts into your chocolate chips, or mixing up types of flours, can contaminate your ingredients. Keep allergens tightly sealed, carefully labeled and away from other ingredients.
Old favorites like eggs Benedict and waffles will always be with us, but brunch menus continue to explore fresh territory. For many chefs, the late morning meal has become an opportunity to show off their creativity and find inspiration in different cuisines. If you’re interested in the baking and pastry arts, you may have noticed the arrival of a visually appealing and tasty dish on many spring brunch menus: the pastry nest.
While pastry nests may be new to many American chefs and diners, they are inspired by long traditions in Mediterranean cooking. One of the biggest advantages of these eye-catching items is that they’re endlessly customizable. When you have the basics down, you can incorporate a wide range of ingredients to put your personal stamp on this new brunch favorite.
Feathering the nest
“The foundation of a pastry nest is phyllo.”
The foundation of a pastry nest is phyllo, an unleavened dough commonly used to make the Turkish dessert baklava and the Greek spinach pie spanakopita, among other applications. Genius Kitchen provided a recipe for making your own phyllo that calls for flour, salt, olive oil and water. However, you can keep preparation easier by using the frozen phyllo widely available at grocery stores.
To add to the dish’s nest-like appearance and crunch, many recipes suggest using kataifi, a type of shredded phyllo available frozen at many stores with a selection of Mediterranean foods. As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette explained, you should allow time for the dough to thaw in the refrigerator before use. Lay out paper on your work area when you open the package to make cleaning up all the little pieces of phyllo easier.
Take the kataifi out of its package in small amounts, loosening them by fluffing them up and carefully pulling on the ends. Keep the dough flexible by covering it with a damp towel.
Get started with a simple nest
When you’re making your first pastry nest, you may want to keep things easy. Sara Moulton provided the Associated Press with a straightforward method to bring together phyllo, eggs and other tasty ingredients in a festive dish.
Set a sheet of phyllo on a work surface brushed with extra-virgin olive oil, adding more oil to the dough. Pull in the edges to create a nest, keeping the center flat. Move onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and repeat with three more pieces of phyllo.
Position a thin piece of prosciutto in the center of each nest, topping with grated mozzarella and pesto. Create an indentation in the middle of the cheese and add an egg.
Bake in the bottom part of the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. After approximately eight minutes, the whites should set and the phyllo should be golden and crisp. Allow three minutes at room temperature and serve.
Bringing together eggs, dough and toppings makes for a fantastic brunch.
Take flight with a more adventurous approach
Once you’re comfortable working with phyllo and creating your nests, you might want to try some exciting combinations of taste and texture. The Telegraph featured directions for a version that includes kataifi, figs and cardamom.
After loosening the pastry, place in a bowl with sugar and melted butter, carefully mixing to coat. Divide into tartlet pans, flattening the centers, and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.
Prepare a filling by lightly whipping a combination of heavy cream, lemon zest, ground cardamom and powdered sugar before folding in Greek yogurt.
To make the topping, melt butter in a pan, adding light brown sugar. Cut figs in half and place in the pan with the cut sides down. Cook on high for two minutes. Assemble the nests, topping them off with chopped pistachios.