Berries, pistachio sour cream and sweetened Greek yogurt. Photo courtesy Wallmonkey.
Looking for some appetizer or dessert excitement? Make verrines (vair-REEN, in French).
Verre is the French word for glass; verrine, which means “protective glass,” is an assortment of ingredients layered “artfully” in a small glass.
Verrines can be sweet or savory: The idea is to layer foods that provide delicious tastes in small bites.
In addition to serving up a variety of tastes and textures, verrines should have splashes of color for eye appeal (grape tomatoes, raspberries, herbs).
The idea has been around for a long time, but in recent years has come back to prominence in France.
While specialty verrine glasses exist, you most likely have vessels at home that will do the job just fine: juice glasses, rocks glasses, shot glasses, even small wine goblets.
And you don’t have to start big—you can hold off on the foie gras mousse, cubed Sauternes gelée (Sauternes [a sweet wine] in plain gelatin) and stewed rhubarb, topped with crème fraîche, candied apricots and chopped pistachios (we made this one last week).
Instead, start by making the foods you serve every day more exciting by serving a verrine as a side. For example:
Breakfast: Layer scrambled eggs, crumbled bacon, salsa, sour cream or Greek yogurt, and garnish with chives.
Appetizer: Layer sautéed mushrooms, chopped tomatoes, mashed potatoes or cauliflower, topped with a dab of sour cream and chopped parsley; or our favorite, tuna tartare, chopped tomatoes and guacamole, topped with a chopped mix of hard-cooked egg whites and cilantro.
Dessert: Layer fresh or poached fruit, rice pudding or custard and crumbled gingersnaps, topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
How many layers should you prepare? Three to six.
SWEET INGREDIENTS CHECKLIST
This is hardly an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start for inspiration.
Cake & cookies: Crumbled biscotti, cookies and meringues; cubed cake
Chocolate: Shaved chocolate, mini morsels
Dried Fruit: Dried blueberries, cherries, cranberries, raisins or chopped larger fruits such as apricots and plums
Fresh Fruit: Bananas, berries, kiwi, melon or any of your favorites, chopped or puréed
Herbs: Lavender, lemon balm, mint
Liqueurs: Add liqueur first to the bottom of the glass, or sprinkle over the cake or cookie layer
Nuts: Chopped almonds, macadamias, pecans, pistachios, walnuts
Pudding: Cannoli filling (sweetened ricotta), custard, crème caramel, mousse, panna cotta, rice pudding
A classic verrine: different flavors of mousse,
cookies and meringues. And the small size
means portion control! Photo courtesy
Spices: Allspice, anise, cardamom, ginger, fennel seeds, nutmeg
Toppings: Crème fraîche, mascarpone, sweetened sour cream, vanilla or other flavored yogurt, whipped cream or flavored whipped cream
Wild Card: Chopped candy (brittle, chocolate bar, candied citrus peel, peppermint pattie—anything you like), cubed gelatin, jam or preserves
ALSO SEE: Savory verrines.
If you read French, there’s a larger selection. Here’s what we found in English, but we expect to see more as publishers catch up with the trend:
Verrines: Sweet and Savory Parfaits Made Easy [Kindle Edition]
Terrines and Verrines