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TIP OF THE DAY: Plate Decorating With Sauce

Octopus With Swirled Sauce

Lava Cake With Sauce

Squeeze Bottles

Dessert Sauce Squeeze Bottles

[1] These “flowers” are simply polka dots pulled together with a toothpick (see the video below; photo courtesy Gardenia | NYC). [2] Any food that isn’t made in a sauce can be decorated (photo courtesy Shalit Foods). [3] Keep your favorite sauces in the fridge, ready to squeeze (photo courtesy Pure Joy Concepts). [4] You can buy sauces or make them (photo courtesy Melissa’s).

 

When you get your food at a good restaurant and the chef has made beautiful chevrons, flowers or hearts from the sauce, are you impressed?

If so, know that some of these are so easy, that all you need are a couple of squeeze bottles and a toothpick or skewer to make them at home.

In fact, the hardest thing to do is to decide which sauces to use with your dish.

So watch the video below, or plenty more on YouTube under “sauce decoration.”

  • Start with polka dots of sauce before moving into more complex designs.
  • Look for the color impact as well as the flavors when you select sauces.
  • The lists below are just guidelines. You can use whatever goes through a squeeze bottle (but steer clear of sauces with inclusions—bits of dill, mustard seeds, etc.).
  •  
    SAVORY SAUCES

  • Aïoli (garlic mayonnaise) or other flavored mayonnaise 
  • Alfredo (parmesan) or other cheese sauce
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Cream sauce (plain, basil, curry, ginger, tomato, wasabi, etc.)
  • Hoisin or plum sauce
  • Horseradish sauce
  • Lemon sauce
  • Mustard sauce
  • Ranch sauce
  • Sriracha sauce
  • Vegetable coulis*
  • Yogurt-based (e.g. garlic-yogurt sauce)
  •  
    SWEET SAUCES

  • Berry coulis*
  • Butterscotch/caramel sauce
  • Chocolate/white chocolate/mint chocolate sauce
  • Cinnamon sauce sauce
  • Coffee/mocha
  • Custard/crème anglaise
  • Honey or maple syrup
  • Kiwi coulis
  • Lemon or other citrus sauce
  • Mango coulis
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Yogurt-based (e.g. honey-yogurt sauce)
  •  
    ________________

    *Coulis (COO-lee) is a sauce made from puréed and strained vegetables or fruits (i.e., no seeds remain).

     
    This video shows three easy techniques for both sweet and savory sauces.


     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Sauce Pasta

    Mound Of Sauce On Pasta

    How To Sauce Pasta

    Angel Hair Pasta

    [1] Don’t sauce pasta like this. It may look neat, but it doesn’t cover all the pasta, and eating it can be a mess (photo courtesy International Pasta Association). [2] The correct way: Toss the pasta and sauce in a pot or bowl to fully cover each strand (photo courtesy All-Clad). [3] Authentic saucing (photo courtesy Davio’s Boston.

     

    Every great pasta experience requires a great sauce. It’s not just the flavor of the sauce that matters, but when and how the sauce and pasta get come together.

    Correctly saucing your pasta is the difference between cooking authentic Italian and following an incorrect culinary path.

    Americans have been trained to place a pool of sauce in the middle of a plate of pasta.

    No! No! Do not pour sauce on top of un-sauced pasta, as in the top photo. According to DeLallo, an importer of Italian foods, a dish of pasta served in this manner in Italy would be a disaster.

    Americans have been accustomed to serving pasta as a mound of undressed spaghetti or other noodles in a bowl or on a dish, topped with a ladleful sauce.

    We couldn’t track down how this practice originated, although it is definitely an American practice. It likely began in Italian-American restaurants, and our guess is that the first cook who topped pasta with sauce this way did it for aesthetic reasons. It does look prettier.

    But it isn’t as functional.

    In authentic Italian cuisine, the sauce is always incorporated into the pasta before serving. Every strand of pasta is thus coated with sauce, and the eater doesn’t have to work to coat his/her own—many of us creating drips and spatters in the process.

    Plus, the amount of sauce used is just enough to coat the pasta—not to create a sea of sauce. Authentic Italian pasta dishes do not swim in sauce.

    SAUCE YOUR PASTA THE CORRECT WAY

    1. Heat the sauce by the time you add the pasta to the boiling salted water. Keep the sauce on a low simmer until the pasta is ready. Your pasta shouldn’t wait for your sauce to cook; the sauce should be awaiting the pasta.

    2: Moderation is everything. Use at most a quarter cup of thick sauce per person (such a tomato- or cream- based sauce), or two to three tablespoons of an oil-based sauce. The ratio is 1.5 cups sauce to 1 pound of cooked pasta, or 1 cup of oil-based sauce to 1 pound of cooked pasta.

    3: Reserve some of the pasta water in another container when you drain the pasta (we use a cup). Never rinse the pasta: That will eliminate important starches that help the sauce stick.

    4. Return the empty saucepan to the stove, over high heat. Add the drained hot pasta and the heated sauce, and toss to coat evenly (hot pasta will absorb more sauce and flavor). This quick toss in a hot pan allows the two components to meld and and create a beautiful flavor and texture. The starches from the pasta will slightly thicken the sauce.

    Tip: We’re a bit messy, so rather than clean sauce spatter from the stove, we first toss the pasta and sauce in a large bowl; then add it to the pan.

    5: Add a couple tablespoons of the reserved hot pasta water to the pan, to smooth out the sauce. Reserved pasta water contains starch that can be used to thicken the consistency of the sauce, so add another couple of spoons if you like. Total time of the pasta and sauce together on the stove is about 2 minutes.

    6: Transfer the pasta to a warm serving bowl or individual plates.

     
    10+ MORE WAYS TO LOVE YOUR PASTA

    Pasta terms and shapes: a glossary of explanations with photos.

    Ingredient substitutes: What to do when you don’t have sauce or parmesan.

    Leftover pasta for breakfast: You’ll love it!

    Make stir-fried pasta with leftover pasta.

    Turn leftover pasta into an antipasto.

    More recipes for leftover pasta, from green salad to cole slaw.

    How to sneak veggies into pasta: Your family won’t complain!

    Breadcrumbs on pasta: a Southern Italian tradition.

    Dessert pasta: from berry lasagna to chocolate pasta.

    Toast uncooked pasta for a toasty, nutty flavor.

    The history of pasta: It began in China.
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Reuse Citrus Rinds As Mini Bowls

    As you cook your way through the holidays, consider saving the shells (whole rinds) of halved, juiced lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit. You can repurpose them as mini serving bowls—for sides, desserts, condiments and more.

    First, use a serrated grapefruit spoon or other implement to scrape out the empty juice sacs—but leave the white pith intact.

    Then cut a tiny slice off from what will become the bottom of each “bowl,” so it will sit flat on a plate. Place the empty shells in the freezer; when frozen, store them in freezer bags. Then, for a festive meal, take them out and use them for:

  • Condiments
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Dipping sauce
  • Relish
  • Rice or mashed potatoes, with a topping
  • Salsa
  •  
    Our favorite use is dessert, specifically:

  • Fruit salad
  • Sorbet
  •  
    For cold foods, you don’t have to wait for the shells to defrost. Scooping sorbet into frozen shells, for example, keeps it from melting more quickly. Check out yesterday’s recipe for Meyer Lemon Sorbet.

     
    WHAT TO DO WITH A LEFTOVER HALF LEMON OR LIME

    Freeze the entire half, or cut it into quarters.

  • You can defrost a piece when you need juice.
  • You can also freeze the juice alone, ideally, in ice cube trays, so you can defrost only what you need.
  • After the citrus pieces or juice cubes freeze, store them in a heavy-duty freezer bag.
  •  
    Freeze individual slices.

  • Cut into slices about 1/4-inch thick and freeze them for garnishing.
  • First freeze them on a cookie sheet so the slices don’t stick together; then store them in freezer bags.
  • For a glass garnish, cut a slit into the slice before freezing. You can then place the frozen slice onto the rim of the glass, without waiting for it to thaw.
  •  
    TRIVIA

     

    Citrus Cups

    panna-cotta-swirlsandspice-230

    ikura-qoo-boo-230

    TOP PHOTO: Fruit salad. Cut the fruit as fine as it needs to be to fit nicely into the shell. Photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers. MIDDLE PHOTO: These are panna cotta, but could as easily be sauces or sides. Photo courtesy Swirls And Spice. BOTTOM PHOTO: Stuffed with rice and topped with salmon caviar. Photo courtesy Qoo’s Life.

     
    Botanically, citrus fruits are berries with leathery rinds. In botany this type of berry is called a hesperidium.

    The great botanist Carl Linnaeus (1707 – 1778) bestowed the name Hesperideæ to the order the contains the Citrus genus. It’s an allusion to the the Hesperides, nymphs who in Greek and Roman myth guarded a blissful garden of golden apples.

    From Sweden, Linnaeus was a botanist, zoologist and physician. He laid the foundations for taxonomy, the modern biological naming system for describing species (taxa in Latin). Many of his writings were in Latin, as was custom among scientists of the time. Latin was a common language among educated Europeans, so no matter what one’s native language, one could read the works of others in Latin.

      

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