I've been studying 3-star desserts and presentations lately, and it has been super inspiring! Applying the same visual principles to healthful and balanced foods can make them look even more appealing. Plus, it's fun to put together a pretty plate of food.
I took freshly sliced strawberries and threw half of them into my food dehydrator. Once they'd dried, I took half of those and crushed them into strawberry powder, keeping the other half intact.
I set up the plate with a swirl of blueberry baby food, then arranged a scoop of yogurt on the swirl with a fan of sliced strawberries on the side. I topped the yogurt with dried strawberries, then sprinkled the whole plate with crushed berries, adding an edge section that had extra powder, and I finished the plate with thin drizzles of honey and a bit of edible gold dust.
This particular piece was inspired by Heston Blumenthal of the Michelen 3-Star Big Fat Duck restaurant in England. Blumenthal likes to take a single vegetable and prepare it 4 different ways, putting all 4 preparations in the same dish. Versions of the vegetable are typically served steamed, fried, dried, and pureed.
How fun is that?
You see, when fruits and veggies are ripening faster than you'd like, you need a new way to use them before they go bad. Freezing is a great way to prolong the lifespan of fruits and vegetables, but I know that I have often wound up with a freezer full of food that hasn't gotten used.
Dehydrating produce is a great alternative.
Using a dehydrator helps make your fruits and vegetables last longer. Plus, the dehydrated fruits and vegetables that you can buy in the store are surprisingly expensive! Dehydrating your own produce is way cheaper, and the results are just as good, if not better, than you can find in the store!
Here is some dehydrating inspiration for the next time you really want to play with your food.
- Slice some apples into thin slices with a mandolin.
- Chop off the tops of strawberries, then slice them with a sharp paring knife.
- Cherry tomatoes can go into a food dehydrator whole. Simple rinse them, pat them dry, and put them into your dehydrator. Dried tomatoes are great in pasta and soups, and they're also perfect garnishes for salads.
Make sure that all the pieces to be dehydrated are roughly the same size, then follow the directions on your dehydrator. Remember, food must be ripe, of good quality, and without mold. People have advised me to pretreat the produce with a lemon and water solution to stop browning, but I've found that to be unnecessary as long as the food is sliced thinly enough. Allow everything to cool, then store your dehydrated food in sealed bags. The University of Georgia has great dried food storage tips -- check them out!
Basic food dehydrators are surprisingly inexpensive. Here's a good one on Amazon.com.
And, of course, I would never leave you without a free handout! Here's a guide to making a strawberry plate of your very own. Feel free to pass it out to your clients or use it in a cooking demonstration!
And here are links to other helpful food and nutrition materials! We're here to help you look your very best, right now.