Having a picnic hampers Sydney is one of the best family outings you can do for some reason eating sandwiches on a blanket in the outdoors tastes so much better. You’ve invited your closest friends around for a dinner party and after looking in several cooking books for recipe ideas you’ve now decided what your going to cook for them. You’ve taken into consideration all their preferred tastes and you’ve even bought their favourite tipple. All you need now is to work your magic in the kitchen and not forget to set the oven timer! However, have you considered presentation techniques? Is this an area that you struggle with for inspiration?
When cooking for ourselves, it would seem that we don’t always make as much as an effort with presentation. Although when cooking for others, especially at a dinner parties it is common practice that we make more of an effort.
Restaurants put a lot of time and effort into presentation as they know the customer’s opinion is not just about the taste of the food but also the way the food has been presented on the plates. Customers have more of a desire to eat food that is aesthetically pleasing and are more likely to enjoy their chosen dish.
Achieving these professional looks at home is simple and fun to do. Here are the top ten tips for creating your perfect party presentation look.
1)Balance – it is important to have a good balance of foods on your plate and we are not referring to your 5-a-day! Choose foods and garnishes that contrast each other this will help achieve a bright and colourful look. However avoid colours that are too loud and ‘in your face’. Two to three colours are better then just one, choose vegetables that add colour, greens are always a safe option and this is why they are so popular. For example adding a sprinkle of water cress of parsley is an excellent way to liven up some white potatoes which without may seem bland.
2) Shapes – using a variety of shapes gives variety to the dish. Using to many similar shapes will make the dish seem boring and too much of the same thing. Try to use a variety of different shapes, this can easily be achieved by cutting vegetables into different shapes, e.g. carrots can be cut into long sticks, circles, and spirals or diced into cubes. This is the same for the majority of all vegetables. This will make the vegetables seem more appealing as they are been presented in a different way to the norm. There is a wide selection of videos available on YouTube demonstrating how to cut vegetables in different ways.
If you don’t fancy learning to chop like a chef just yet, why not try using a mandolin? These are available in a variety of different forms and are priced from around £24.99-£89.99+.
Another way to incorporate shapes into your cooking is to use presentation rings. These are commonly used for making rostis, presenting starters and forming deserts. Although you can use presentation rings for almost any foods so get creative! A wide selection of presentation rings are available from Cooking Marvellous.
3) Portion size vs. Plate size – make sure you have enough food to easily cover all of your guests. Portion sizes are also important for presentation. Make sure you have the correct size crockery for the food you are serving. Using a small plate will make your dish seem over crowded and unappealing. Using to big of a plate makes portions look insufficient and that is the last impression you want to give at a dinner party!
Although buying a whole new crockery set adds cost to your dinner party and in today’s market we are all getting more cost conscious, achieving a perfect look doesn’t have to cost the earth. There are lots of crockery brands available that have the same designs as more expensive brands at lower prices. There is a wide selection of crockery and cutlery available at online retailers. They stock high quality Royal Bradwell crockery and are the cheapest we have found on the net. They also stock the cheaper brands such as Sienna which is as little as £1 per dinner plate, which we think is a bargain!
Retailers sell crockery sets from as little as only 6 plates up to sets to acquire for over 48 covers. They also have some high quality royal Doulton cutlery at bargain bottom prices.
4) Crockery, Plating your food – white and cream crockery are the recommend colours for crockery as they are plain and allow the food to stand out on the crockery. Brightly coloured crockery or crockery with patterns on can make the food seem lost and unappealing.
5) Temperature – It is important that the crockery is the same temperature as the food. So make sure you heat plates for serving hot food, and used cooled plates for cold food. Chill bowls and plates in the fridge and use your microwave with some water on each plate a couple of minutes to heat plates before serving food.
Another trick you could use is to frost your glasses in the freezer to serve white wine or a glass of fizz!
6) Finishing touches – For starters and mains, if appropriate you can add a simple garnish to your dish. A common technique is to tightly roll up a leaf herb and thinly cut it at an angle and sprinkle over dish. This works best with micro-herbs in little bunches. There is a wide variety available online and at selected supermarkets. Check online for more details.
For deserts you can add a professional finish by putting a little coca power or icing into a sieve and tapping it gently over your dish. If you’re feeling really adventurous you could cut a pattern out of cardboard to create a stencil and gently place this on the plate and using the same technique apply some cocoa power to achieve a charming stenciled look.
For a more hands on approach you could try adding your favourite liqueur to a chocolate fountain. This way you can get involved in the desert making with your guests – they will love doing this! Chocolate fountains range from £10-50+ online.
Other more sophisticated deserts could be a selection of cheese, crackers and grapes or other selected fruits. It is important to remember to use a cake dome when serving these foods as this will stop smells. Also conveniently it is easy to put away after use.
7) Inspiration – if all above has failed to inspire you there are plenty more things you can do for further inspiration. We suggest you look in cookery books to see how they have presented there food. Also to take note the next time you eat out at a restaurant. See how they have prepared your food for you.
8) Garlic Fingers? – use a garlic peeler to avoid those embarrassing moments.
9) Red eyes for chopping onions? – Simply put on your sunglasses, simple but works a treat!
10) Worried about staining your gorgeous black dress or brand new suit? – don’t forget to put on apron to protect your clothes not only will you be perfectly clean when you take it off, you’ll look the part when you’ve got it on! And if you’re feeling extra spontaneous why not pop on a chef’s hat! Were sure your guests will love that!
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