CategoriesFood & dining
About Little Plates
This App is about putting together a selection of different food, stylishly plating them and letting people talk, drink and eat at their own pace. This food is fun, relaxed and easy. These small dishes go by many names but they all share the same history that began with people having a small bite to eat and a glass of something to sip before a larger meal. The ritual has grown so popular that on many occasions it is more fun to serve a range of little plates of food (followed later by, perhaps, a choice of desserts) than to serve a traditional menu based meal. The casual dining approach encourages the communal minded where you and your guests relax, chat and eat more freely, as well as the experimental, allowing the sharing of new, tasty and exciting dishes. It also encourages some of your diners to join in the last minute preparation of some of the little dishes – the whole process of preparation and enjoyment of the food becomes more communal and more social. To encourage the experimental in you all recipes are written clearly with cooking notes and methodologies for clarification when required.
Visually small dishes must look interesting and divide well – they are there to share so presentational skills are, at times, a little different from those you would use for a larger meal. Avoid the vertical-stack mode and instead keep things horizontal using side garnishes of fresh herbs, edible flowers and radishes finely sliced with a mandolin, or scatter fresh pomegranate arils (the seeds), finely chopped herbs or pine nuts over the dishes, as appropriate. If you are happy to hand wash the little serving plates, consider using non-matching plates that you have collected or those handed down from one generation to another. Supply appropriate sized serving utensils – each diner should take a portion from the communal dish and eat off their own plate.
All the recipes are proratable. Unless the recipe states to the contrary, each are written to serve 4 – 5 people. However, consider this as a guide as much depends on the number of little dishes offered and/or whether desserts are served afterwards.
Consider growing herbs and edible flowers for garnishes in your back yard, or in containers – rosemary, sage, bay, thymes, oregano, mint, chives, nasturtium, violas, zucchini flowers and arugula all for use in cooking and presentation. You can make many dishes go from boring to beautiful simply by adding some small blossoms and herbs but use herbs that go with whatever it is you are serving and opt for simple, easy elegance.
Make sure the flowers are edible before you serve them, as people will often assume they are edible if they are presented with food and will taste them. To ensure they are herbicide free, use only your own flowers, harvest them in the early morning or evening, clean them well and remove stamens and the pistil, gently wash and dry on clean kitchen paper allowing them time to air dry before use. Store, if necessary, in the refrigerator in a rigid plastic container on top of moist, clean kitchen paper.
To extract the arils from a pomegranate do as follows. Cut the pomegranate in half. Hold each half seed side down over a large bowl and tap the skin hard and all over with a heavy wooden spoon (or other smooth implement) to remove the arils from the membranes that hold them. The arils will fall through your fingers and into the bowl. If you find a stubborn few arils still attached to the skin, extract with a small paring knife. Repeat for the second pomegranate half.
Recipes and cooking methodologies
Recipes can be printed