or Connect
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Dinner Party Help

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I am throwing a dinner party (more like a catering) for 5 people next week and I want it to be brought out in "courses". I want the food to be just as beautifull as it is tasty. Do any of you have an ideas of either meat or poultry dishes that are small portions, and are asthetically pleasing?
post #2 of 8
I'm not sure I understand the question. Portion control has to do with the cook, not the dish per se.

Generally speaking, dishes are more aesthetically pleasing when the negative and positive space are in balance, when food is arranged vertically, and when there is a sense of movement, achieved by not centering the dish, and using sauces and garnishes to draw the eye, and thus create movement.

Here's an example, using a common, everyday dish: Pan fried chicken cutlet, mashed potatoes, peas, and gravy.

A typical home presentation: Arrange the chicken, spuds, and peas by dividing the plate in thirds. A piece of chicken, a pile of spuds drowned in gravy, and a pool of peas. Basically the way most of us grew up. And rather boring looking.

Now take the same elements. Start by using a spoon to draw a curved design with the gravy. Let's say a loose question mark shape with a small reverse curve near the bottom. Nestle a mound of potatoes in the upper curve of the question mark, and lean the fried cutlet on the potatoes. Then put the peas in a tiny bowl, and fit it into the small reverse curve.

Not the best design in the world. But exponentially more pleasing than the classic plate-in-thirds. Note, too, that aesthetics include the plates as well. No need to confine yourself to round ones, just because they're the most common.

I'd advise that you look at the food styling pix in cooking magazines and cookbooks for inspiration.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
post #3 of 8
jss,

It would help if we know what sort of budget you are working with, what area/what season it is so we know what is likely to be in season, and how "posh" would you like it.

Are you doing an appetiser, entree, fish course, main course, salad, dessert?

As KYH suggests....it's a little vague at the moment. Help us help you :)

Platters of food can always be fun, depending on what sort of dishes you have available to use, people can pick and choose as they like, family style.

Is it being served at home? Any particular cuisine you are most familiar with preparing?

Let us know.
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
Reply
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
Reply
post #4 of 8
I often tell folks that the first bite is taken with the eyes. How food looks can be important. Not so much with everyday dishes at home - my wife knows that the enchilada is going to be good no matter how sloppy it looks on the plate. But some choped cilantro and black olive slices look nice on top.

Whole roasts, poultry and fish can be impressive, but then you have to carve and serve at table. Lamb chops with a long, clean bone are always good looking. Spend some time on Youtube watching episodes of Iron Chef, both America and Japan, for plating ideas. Some are more interesting than others, like ICA Battle Garlic where the challenger has a squab clutching a garlic clove in its talons. Episodes with Batali and Morimoto, in my opnion, have some of the best presentation ideas.

Color is always nice. A breaded pork chop with potatoes and gravy are pretty brown, some greenery helps. Last dinner party I served my sweet onion soup. Just sitting in a bowl it is an offwhite sort of mush. But a few bits of green onion in inch or inch and a half lengths brightened up the appearance, as well as fitting in well tastewise.

One dish I do is a stuffed pork loin. Basically I carve a boneless roast into a long, thin sheet, cover it with filling, roll it up, tie and roast. The filling usually consists of mushrooms , onions and various colors of bell peppers. When sliced and laid on the plate the pinwheel effect is pretty nice. I put the meat on top of the sauce, rather than have the sauce cover the colors of the filling. Pinwheels of red salmon and some white fish wrapped around a scallop look pretty nice, too.

Making food look good is always a fun task for me. I should do it more often!

mjb.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Reply
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Reply
post #5 of 8
>Not so much with everyday dishes at home <

While recognizing that this is generally true, I've never understood it. People will spend hours cooking, making sure the food tastes just so. And then just slap in on a plate.

Not in my house. Everything here gets plated and served with the best presentation I can manage.

Sure, it takes extra time. But as you note, we eat with our eyes first.

>Pinwheels of red salmon and some white fish wrapped around a scallop look pretty nice, too.<

Sounds real pretty.

If you're up to it, try cutting salmon and a white fish into long, squared-off strips. Then braid them, using two salmon and one white, or two white and one salmon. Serve them on a bed of saffron cream sauce, and I guarantee the oohs and ahs when you put that on the table will go on for quite some time.

JSS: Something else to consider: Odd numbers are more active than even numbers. That's why things put down in ones, threes or fives are more interesting than pairs or quartets.

Also, make a real effort in how you decorate and garnish. For instance, take a bowl of hummus. Pretty boring, just the way it sits. When I serve it, however, I make a paper stencil consisting of five long, ovaloid "petals." I mound the hummus, cover with the stencil and sprinkle some paprika. Lifting the stencil and I have a floral pattern. Then either a black olive or peperdaw goes into the center, and it looks like an echinacea blossom.

If I did this more often I'd make a permenant stencil out of flexible plastic.

Similarly, for a scallops with sweet & sour braised lentils dish, I use a stencil in the shape of a scallop shell. The lentils are thus laid down in a scallop-shell pattern, and the scallops arranged on it.

I don't expect that most home cooks would take the time and trouble for these sorts of approaches. But it gives you an idea of the directions you can take.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
post #6 of 8
After my first post I started thinking about plating. And it occurred to me that I actually do spend more time than I realized on presenting everyday dishes. Like saturday night's dinner - I remember rearranging the food slightly and putting it on the table at a certain angle. I wonder if more of us do similar things without really thinking about it.

mjb.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Reply
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Reply
post #7 of 8
Shape of plate itself. Color of plate as well as food and contrast. Shapes of components that make up plate.
CHEFED
Reply
CHEFED
Reply
post #8 of 8
2-3 times per week I make a dish that I like to take pictures of for many reasons: Either I'm extremely proud of the work that went into it, or it's my first time making something of that magnitude, and mainly because I like to post pictures of my cooking on facebook - I'm known for my cooking!

I have a rather hard time plating things since I'm pretty new to sauces and the whole concept of plating. I never quite know how to arrange the salad on the plate to make it look good and fit in with the rest of the plate, and I especially don't know how to take good pictures. But I'm getting better at it. Are there any food presentation websites out there?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Food & Cooking