We are definitely living in a different era than ever before. With most restaurants only available for takeout and many cities shut down to travelers, it can be disheartening when trying to figure out a fun activity for a date night with your loved one. However, just because restaurants are currently shut down, it does not mean that you have to give up fine dining and fun date nights. With a little practice, you and your loved one can enjoy a top of the line meal right from your kitchen. To make things even better, you can bond while learning to cook like your favorite chef, and enjoy the results with a nice bottle of wine. While it’s easy to find a good recipe online, the key to creating your own fine dining experience is plating. Keep on reading for my best tips to help you make dinners as beautiful as your favorite chef!
Round molds are one of a chefs best kept secrets. They can be used for just about anything from creating the perfect rice mold to creating personal sized cakes to perfectly shaped fruit salads. Regardless of what you plan to make with your round molds, do not skimp on the quality. $20 can buy you a great set of stainless steel round molds that will not only last a long time, but will also hold their shape, regardless of what type of food they are being used for. While it may sound silly, when food looks good, it makes it taste even better! Below are a few great ideas to try with round molds.
- Fancy Salads: While a salad may not be the first thing you think of when using round molds, the results will have you mind blown. Julienne a few slices of cucumber and lay them around the mold. Next, add your dressed mixed greens to the center of the mold. Lift up the mold, and the cucumber perfectly accents your salad.
- Poke: Poke is a trending meal throughout the United States. While it’s ingredients are simple and fresh, it makes a tasty and indulgent meal no matter what the occasion may be. First, lay down a large leaf of lettuce. Next, place your round mold on top of the lettuce. Then, layer in whatever you want in your poke (brown rice, tuna, mango, ahi, avocado, etc.). Top it off with some chopped off cucumbers and remove the mold. You’ll be left with a beautiful stack of poke to enjoy.
- Risotto: Risotto is another meal that may not initially be thought of when using round molds. But, trust me, its worth it. First, lay some greens lightly around the round mold. Then add risotto to the mold. Top with a few julienned radishes and just a bit of thyme or rosemary. Pull up and mold and voila! You have a five star plated meal.
- Mashed Potatoes: Mashed potatoes are another great food to use with the round mold. While it may be as simple as adding the mashed potatoes to the center of the mold and lifting up, the potatoes will look beautiful and add some flare to your in-home fine dining experience.
- Chocolate Lava Cake: Every good meal should be finished with some dessert. Chocolate lava cakes can be a bit difficult to make. But, if you follow a solid recipe and use a round mold, you’ll create the most perfect chocolate lava cake that may even rival Jean-Georges’ famous one.
Squeeze Bottles For Sauces
Squeeze bottles are another absolute must for any at-home fine dining experience. In every cooking show and move, we see chefs using a spoon to make intricate sauce details. However, this is a guaranteed way to get frustrated while in the kitchen. Try to remember those chefs have had years and years of experience. However, just because you didn’t go to cooking school doesn’t mean you can’t create a perfectly plated meal. Squeeze bottles are the perfect alternative to struggling with a spoon and sauce. Simply use the squeeze bottle to create lines, dots, or drawings on your plate. Below are some of the most fun meals to accent with sauces.
- Short Rib: While everyone loves a good steak, there is nothing quite like seeing a tender short rib perfectly plated. Instead of covering the short rib in sauce, instead, use the squeeze bottle to place drops of sauce around the plate. Or, use to create a beautiful line around half the plate. This allows you to choose the perfect amount of sauce for each bite.
- Octopus: Using a plain plate, place the octopus in the center of the plate on top of some greens, tomatoes, and edamame. Next, use the squeeze bottle to create different sized drops around the plate of your favorite sauce. Again, this gives you the ability to use just the right amount of sauce with every bite.
- Crème Brûlée: While this is a difficult dessert to make, it is so worth the effort. Place your crème brûlée in the center of the plate. Next, use the squeeze bottle to make evenly spaced dots of sauce (raspberry, chocolate, etc) around the dessert. Next, place a raspberry on each of the dots for a perfectly plated end to your meal.
Cutting skills are one of the most important parts of having a perfectly plated meal. However, what most chefs won’t tell you is that cutting skills are equally in the quality of the knife as they are in the hand of the chef. Give a chef a dull knife and she’ll struggle to julienne vegetables and fruit. Give a normal person a sharp knife and they’ll be able to cut better than they ever thought possible. Moral of the story, if you are going to be preparing nice meals at home, it’s worth investing in a nice knife set. Not only will it save you a headache in the kitchen, but the knives will last forever and you may even be able to pass them down over generations.
If you already have a nice set of knives but feel they aren’t cutting well, it may be time to get them sharpened. Nowadays, there are traveling knife sharpeners who will come directly to your home, take your knife set, and sharpen them right outside. This is a great way to get your knives back in tip top shape without the hassle of sending them into the manufacturer and waiting for their return.
Sharp knives will allow you to make absolutely gorgeous artwork out of fruits and vegetables. In addition, it will make cutting meats and fish a breeze. One of the reasons fine dining restaurants always have beautiful food is because they use sharp knives for everything. If you are using a freshly sharpened knife, just be sure to watch your fingers and don’t cut too fast!