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Old 01-12-2008, 09:16 PM   #1
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Help with sauce and plating

Ok, so after much R & D, I have managed to produce my own demiglace. I've made several tests now, and I can make great bordelaise sauce with it.

The next step though is to figure out the best way to use this sauce. I definitely want to use red meat, so a steak or a roast tenderloin is a no-brainer.

But I'm a little at a loss when it comes to the vegatables. I need a good combination of vegetables, a good way to cook them (I'm really not sure whether to roast, steam, braise, or boil) and most importantly, how to plate them with the bordelaise and beef so that everything looks classy.

As good as my sauce tastes, I don't want it to make my meal look like stodge! Can someone recommend some vegetable combinations (with recipes / cooking methods) and does someone have some good arrangements with photos that look good?


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Old 01-12-2008, 09:53 PM   #2
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Steamed bright colored veggies like carrots, broccoli, and snow peas and cauliflower

I have a set of plates that are larger for this kind of display. They are also good for people who do not want their food to touch each other. They are white and I bought them as singles ...separate from a set.

Whole long green beans sauteed are good as well as fresh asparagus.

A potato dumpling that doesn't require a sauce but you might brush with butter and sprinkl with poppy seed.

When you have a good sauce like the one you are using, I don't put anything on the veggies.

you can always sprinkle your veggies with some of the herbs/spices that you used in your sauce.

To pretty up cauliflower when you place it with snow peas for a floral look place some very thin strips of red or orange bell peppers around.

Place just enough sauce under the meat and put the rest in your sauce bowl for the table. (that's what I do with meatloaf)

Who's coming to dinner?

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." --- Thomas Edison
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Old 01-12-2008, 10:26 PM   #3
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Plating (and food styling) is a visual art form. If your emphases is on the plating - then what vegetables you serve as sides need to coordinate with the main entrée for visual appeal - and you also need to consider the color and shape of the plate. There are courses that teach this, and there are books talking about it, and you can find photo examples online - check here to get you started.
"It ain't what you don't know that gets you in trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." - Mark Twain
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Old 01-12-2008, 10:37 PM   #4
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No one's coming for dinner. But I do have women over, from time to time, and the next time I have a dinner with someone, I want to be able to plate things properly and select some good veggies. Tonight, just for myself, I broiled a sirloin steak, and roasted some diced carrot, onion, broccoli, and zuccini. I also sauted some mushrooms.

Unfortunately, the veggies were not uniformly good (I don't think it was practical to try to roast all the veggies at once, since they each apparently cook at different times), the mushrooms were kind of brown and dry (I may have overcooked them), and the bordelaise sauce, while it tasted great, was visually a liability.

I guess what I need is a streamlined way to cook diverse vegetables, and also a way of plating that is visually appealing.
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Old 01-12-2008, 10:40 PM   #5
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Give this thread from egullet.com a look. It's a crash course in how to make nice plates. If nothing else, just browse through the pics and use them as your basis for you own plating.
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Old 01-12-2008, 10:48 PM   #6
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Thanks College. Those photos are very helpful.
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Old 01-14-2008, 07:10 PM   #7
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Hi Jasonr,
Congratulation! Now that you have mastered demi-glace you can go on to make dozens of sauces. Demi-glace is the refined version of ESPAGNOLE sauce, which is one of the three MOTHER SAUCES/SAUCE MERE (roux based sauces) of classical French Cuisine. I wish you happy cooking as you discover them and to that end, I would suggest trying to track down a book called HERRING`S DICTIONARY OF CLASSICAL AND MODERN COOKERY.

In the UK we can go to bookstores, ask them to order the book and look at it before deciding whether or not we will buy them. Maybe you could do that.

Regarding the plating of food - you`ve been given lots of good advice in the previoous postings. In general, meat dishes will always look better on white plates so, if you don`t have any, and can afford to, go buy some - check out discount stores like TKMaxx. conversely, food in a white/cream sauce need either colour from the plate or from the accompanying vegetables.

Plating of food is visual, as Michael in FtW says - shape, dimension, colour, perceived texture. At the moment there is a fashion for placing the main ingredient (meat, fish, chicken) on one of the accompaniments. this gives the dish dimension in the sense that all the items served are not sitting flat (and to some) boringly on the plate. A typical; example to illustrate what I mean is that, if say, you were serving a sirloin steak, the steak, after cooking and resting would be cut into 2/3 pieces and then place on a base of something like garlic mash, mustard mash, crushed new potatoes or pommes dauphinoise. The base can be created either by careful spooning of the mixture or in commercial kitchen, CHEFS RINGS would be used - the ring placed in the centre of the plate or slightly off centre, the mixture placed in the ring, remove and place the meat etc. on top. Chefs rings are nothing more than plain, round metal rings - basically like a round cookie cutter.

And yet another piece of advice - don`t fill the plate too full - keep the vegetables positioned between 8 o`clock and 4 o`clock with the meat offcentre down toward 6 0`clock. That way the plate will not look too full or overwhelming - especially for women and you leave enough room for the diner/guest to handle the meat.

Hope this helps,
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Old 01-14-2008, 07:17 PM   #8
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For a vegetable idea I would suggest cutting ribbons of vegetables i.e., zucchini, carrots, potatoes (sweet or otherwise) and carefully saute these ribbons in a bit of butter/olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, whatever your herb of choice is and mound on the plate.

Roasted root vegetables are always good to include beets. Just toss them together at the last minute so they don't "bleed" on everything. Or just do roasted beets of different varieties. Many root veggies are good drizzled with a balsamic reduction.

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Old 01-14-2008, 07:25 PM   #9
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Hi Kitchenelf,
Great ideas - not only will they add shape, colour and texture, but the "ribbons" will add dimension also. I recently saw on a TV programme in the UK the idea of making courgette/zucchini "spaghetti" by grating the vegetable and then all it needs is a very quick blanching.

If sauteeing the vegetables, care would have to be taken re. the order of cooking the vegetables - courgettes/zucchini last - higher water content and thus cook more quickly than potatoes?

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Old 01-14-2008, 08:35 PM   #10
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Ok, I'm making more demiglace this weekend. I'll do another borderlaise with the demiglace I made last weekend. I'll also do another broiled striploin.

So now I've got to think about plating. I like the idea of the crushed new potatoes as a base. How about this: roast some new potatoes, slice the steak into slices, put the slices in a circular pattern on the crushed new potatoes (centered on a white plate), and pouring a neat circle of borderlaise around it, like a moat.

Then I'll need some colour. How about some boiled broccoli and roasted red bell peppers?

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