Seduction Meals is about food + romance and the premise that everyone should learn to master one dish that is their signature dish—a Seduction Meal, to enchant and captivate that special someone in your life...
I have been following Jesus Nunez on Facebook now for about half a year and every time he adds a new post he makes me smile. I just have to stop what I am doing to study a dish as if contemplating a painting in a gallery.
His whimsical, sophisticated creations are truly awe inspiring. He is one of the most creative chefs out there, painting provocative masterpieces with food.
Jesus is the executive chef/owner at Gastroarte, a restaurant in New York City. I have never been there but it is on my To-Do list and I cannot wait to experience this modern cuisine. Take a look at some of his creations:
From the Gastroarte website: "It is Gastroarte's intention to bring New York an outlet for the modern cuisine that has put Spain on the culinary map as one of today's international gourmet destinations. In following Chef Núñez' passion for fusing old-world recipes with new-world preparations, Gastroarte is a meeting place for authentic Spanish flavors and nontraditional techniques, a crumble of Mediterranean and multicultural ingredients and molecular methods.
The menu showcases rich, imaginative cooking with a focus on simple yet robust flavors and also reflects Chef Núñez' youthful history as a graffiti and fine artist. In the kitchen, he draws inspiration from his love of urban design and street art, designing his dishes to be colorful creations that many diners say are "too beautiful to eat." The stage for these edible works of art offers its diners two unique dining experiences. In the Tapas and Bar Room guests can enjoy reinterpretations of Spanish tapas, while in the Dining and Garden Rooms a beautifully created dinner menu is available featuring the exploration of shape, color and most importantly flavor."
Sometimes food is a "beautiful thing" and here are a few tantalizing creations to prove it. I present to you a select group of outstanding food bloggers that are full of seductive magic in the kitchen. Skilled in the kitchen they also know how to plate a dish and take amazing photos. They paint with color, add bold or delicate touches, and create arrangements to delight. I am truly in awe!
Ever wonder how top Chef's plate dishes to WOW their customers? Well here's a Chef's secret revealed. It requires a bit of background on the elements of ART. Used by artists in various media, including Chefs and food stylists, the elements of art are the building blocks used to create visual presentations: Color, Line, Shape, Form, and Texture. The same principals can be applied to the creation and presentation of your Seduction Meals. Take this incredible sexy presentation for Miso Clam Soup as an example. The contrast of black and white accessories creates a startling presentation, enhanced by Asian exotic flowers and a beautifully, well balanced soup that reveals, texture, color (albeit subtle), and space the way the soup is filled to a certain level of the dish. A perfect example of the elements of art applied.
Color. Nothing makes a statement like color. Seductive Red, Vibrant Yellow, Sexy Blue, Royal Purple, and the contrast of Black and White. Color can make a bold statement using contrasting colors or a more sublime approach working with one or two color. We love the presentation of the Miso Clam Soup above. Here is an example of working with two color tones: Braised Pork and Crispy Yukon Gold Potatoes. Both so elegant and seductive!
Form Form refers to the shape, visual appearance, or configuration of an object. It is the manner or style of arranging parts for a pleasing effect. It is the organization or placement of the basic elements including line, color and shape. Here is a lovely example of how form, height, layering and line are used to visually stimulate a presentation: Pommes Dauphine Capped with Caviar .
Line In terms of food presentation, you can use lines as a plating mechanism by arranging food along a straight line or in a row. A creative presentation is simply enhanced by arranging a meal in a line, often times using a flat plate. Here is an example where we used the placement of a mound of rice in the center of a dish and lined the tomato shrimp on each side: Spicy Tomato Shrimp with Risotto and Peas.
Shape When plating a dish, we can give it a distinct shape by creating a sexy silhouette. This can be done in a number of ways, including the use of rings and molds or by playing with the basic shapes: circle, square, triangle, rectangle and so on. Here we have round Mini German Chocolate Cakes with the added form and height of sugary, coconut pecans, presented in a straight line for extra pizzaz!
Texture With the right kinds of food, texture is everything. Texture is the tactilequalityofasurface---smooth, rough, grainy, sticky, fuzzy, and so on. Spicy Tuna Tartar is all about texture (and taste). In addition to seeing the texture, this dish is further enhanced the use of bold, seductive color and its abstract form.
For further inspiration pay special attention to Food magazines and TV Shows. Also take note when you go out to eat. Learn from the masters. What does your favorite chef do to grab your attention and seduce your palette. Go ahead, unleash your inner Picasso, you'll have so much fun with this!
Walk into any artisanal cheese shop and I am sure you've been tempted to try, and of course buy, each perfectly presented morsel that appeals to your senses. There is a beauty and alchemy in how cheese is paired, presented, and consumed. Sweet, salty, tart, creamy, hard, spicy -- you name it, there are choices to satisfy all desires.
Creating you Platter: Cheese platters can be served as a main course with your favorite wine, champagne or beer, or as a interlude between the main course and dessert. In creating a cheese platter think texture, color, aroma and taste. You can go with a themed approach such as French, Italian, or Spanish selections, or you can mix it up. It's best to select cheese varieties that are different in texture and taste to keep things interesting. Pair your cheese platter with fresh fruit, warmed nuts, dried berries, sweet jams, drizzled honey, and specialty breads such as Crostini, Panzanella flat bread, or my all time favorite, fresh baguette. You can also serve cheese with grilled vegetables, such as artichoke, asparagus, or peppers. And, a mixed green salad with a simple dressing such a good quality olive oil and a bit of fresh lemon juice, is always refreshing.
Cheese & Wine Pairings: There are many books and online resources for suggestions on cheese and wine pairings. Check out Gourmet Slueth where you can look up a specific cheese and review their wine, champagne and/or beer suggestions. Arisanal Cheese lets you type in the wine you are serving and they suggest the perfect cheese pairing.
Mix it Up. Below is a list of themed cheese platters with suggested pairings. Have fun experimenting with your creations. Some fascinating
combination include: Fresh figs with Manchego or goat cheese.
Apricots with Camembert. Floral honey drizzled over brie or goat cheese, and one of my all time favorites; Manchego with Membrillo or quince paste. .
Online Resources: And for those that do not have access to local cheese shops, I have provided links to online resources where you can purchase specialty cheese platters. I also found an online resource that offers a glossary of cheese terms.
French Cheese Platter Gruyere de Comte, Boucheron, Roquefort, Fromage d'affinois. Camembert, Comte, Brie, and Brillat Saverin to name a few. Serve with sun-dried cranberries or cherries, pears, saucisson (naturally dried pork sausage), pâté de foie gras or country pate, cornichon, and french baguette. Click on the image below for more details on Dean & DeLuca's French cheese platter.
English Cheese Platter Cotswald, Farm House Cheddar, Morangie Brie, Blue Shropshire, Lincolnshire Poacher, Winterdale Shaw, and English Blue Stilton. Serve with pears, dried cranberries, warm hazelnuts, English butter crackers, cornichons, and lavender honey.
Spanish Cheese Platter
Manchego, Drunken Goat, Valdeon, Campo de Montalban, Mahon, Nevat, Roncal and Mirableu. Nevat:Serve with quince paste (pairs perfectly with the manchego), figs, royal Medjool dates, Marcona Almonds, Jamon Serrano, and Catalan Olives. Dean & Deluca has a wonderful manchego cheese and quince paste platter.
American Cheese Platter
Smoked Gouda, Monterey Jack, Carmody, Buttermilk Blue, and Cheddar. Pair your platter with grapes, sliced apples or pears, walnuts, and sliced sausage, smoked ham, or Proscuitto. Dean and DeLuca offers An American cheese platter.
Italian Cheese Platter
Taleggio, Fresh Mozzarella di Buffala, Grana Pardano, Sharp Provolone, Asagio, fresh Parmigianno-Regianno, Gorgonzola. Pair well with olives, Proscuitto de Parma, caramelized pecans, roasted red pepper, sun-dried tomatoes and pignoli notes. Dean & DeLuca's Italian Cheese Plate can be purchased online.
Sometimes the name of a recipe will conjure up images of temptation or extravagance such as Gem Oysters on the Half Shell with Champagne Mignonette and Fresh Horseradish. Or how about Heirloom Tomato & Gorgonzola Salad with Garlicky Croutons and Balsamic Syrup, or Valhrona Spiked Mousse served with Cinnamon Financiers and Citrus Sorbet in a Snap Biscuita.
Here is a recipe that instantly caught my eye--Angry Lobster on a Bed of Nails. I couldn't help but think of Nine Inch Nails or Joel Peter Witkin, but I had to stop myself knowing that David Burke, a master of presentation and culinary seduction, would have something magical under his sleeve; which of course, he did.
The dish is named for its clever presentation. Here David uses a round frog, a small holder with spikes used for flower arrangements, and places this on large plate. He then impales lemon eighths around perimeter of the frog and impales lobster pieces in the center. I have included the recipe below as well as a video I found of ChicTV illustrating a step-by-step demonstration. Of course for those that live in New York, Chicago, Las Vegas or Connecticut you may make a reservation at one of Chef Burke's wonderful restaurants and have this intriguing dish placed before you.
Pommes dauphine is a dish named after the Dauphine, the title given to
the wife of the Dauphin, or heir to the French throne. They are crisp
potato puffs formed into dumpling shapes and then deep-fried.
Here we have a a seductive twist, pomme dauphine with a creamy herb egg
mixture topped with paddlefish caviar. A dish fit for royalty--or your cherished loved one on Valentine's Day.
If you do not have a local resource for caviar you can order 1 oz for $35 or 2 oz for $70 online from California Caviar Company.
Bake the potatoes in a preheated 425°F. oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until they are soft, halve them lengthwise, and scoop the potato out of the shells with a spoon, Force the potato mixture through a ricer or a food mill into a large bowl.
In a saucepan combine the water, butter, and salt, bring to a boil, and stir in the flour all at once.
Reduce the heat to low and beat the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon for 3 minutes, or until the paste pulls away from the side of the pan and forms a ball.
Remove the pan from the heat, add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition, and beat the mixture until it is smooth and shiny.
Add the potatoes and beat the mixture until it is combined well.
Place the mixture in a baking pan and chill 1 hour.
Once chilled, cut out 1-2 inch rounds with a cookie cutter.
In a deep fryer or large kettle heat 2 inches of the oil until it registers Fry the croquettes, turning them with a slotted spoon, for 3 minutes, or until they are crisp, golden, and cooked through, transfer them as they are fried to paper towels to drain, and sprinkle them with the salt.
5 eggs, hard-boiled
1 tsp parsley, chopped
1 tsp chives, chopped
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/5 cup crème fraiche
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Push eggs through a mesh strainer. Add remaining ingredients and top potatoes with a spoonful of egg mixture and a teaspoon of caviar.
On a hot summer night, who wants to spend time cooking in the kitchen--there are better ways and places to kindle heat. Instead of slaving away over a hot stove, try preparing a simple salad with a delicious mix of fresh greens, vegetables, and herbs. You can add a sweet crab or lobster salad over greens. Start you seduction meal with a tray of artisanal cheese, a fois gras pate or cured sliced meats, and fresh fruit.
The key is to keep it simple by designing an enticing array of visually pleasing, scrumptious morsels. Below is an example of a simple recipe for romance. A meal that took less than 15 minutes to whip together and was paired with a chilled bottle of rose wine, served outdoors, and surrounded by mini candles. The fireflies were a magic touch from above ; )
Plating a dish is one of the many ways to set the tone for your romantic soiree. Whether casual, elegant, funky or fun like any artist, vision and technique come together to present a unique statement. When plating your dish try adding height, creating shapes, working with positive and negative space, and using color or texture for visual effect.
While cooking showcases your skills and culinary
prowess, presentation exudes passion and creativity. Take a look at this slide show
for inspiration that might guide your next next Seduction Meal. These dishes were prepared by master chefs at James Beard food and wine tasting events--the best source for learning how to perfect this craft.
For more tips on plating a dish, there is a wonderful book called Working the Plate: The Art of Food Presentation by Christopher Styler. Unfortunately, it doesn't share the wonderful meals featured in the book; however, Mr. Styler does a great job of sharing tips and techniques used by many top chefs to create that "wow factor" whether simple or complex.
Speaking of simple (yet elegant), here is an example from an inspiring artist (and perhaps future chef) who truly understands the beauty of presentation. While only ten, his Jello dish is dazzling!
When preparing your Seduction Meal have a little fun with your creativity, specifically in how you plate the dish. Think of contrasting colors, architectural treatments (adding
height), positive and negative space, mixing textures, and enhancing the dish with garnishes and sauces. For inspiration pay special attention to how chefs present the dishes served
at your favorite restaurants. And take a look a the various styles and techniques of "plating" as seen on TV food shows and in the pages your favorite food magazines like
Bon Appetit, Gourmet, and Saveur.
prepared a brunch for two: a simple smoked salmon dish served with creme fraiche potatoes garnished with capers and diced cornichons; and I have plated the dish using two different presentation styles.
For added color, and the opportunity to serve up a playful finger food,
add a bowl of ripe juicy strawberries to your table or
breakfast try. For added effect take advantage of this lovely time of
year and move to an outdoor setting such as a patio, a luscious
green lawn surrounded by flowers, or a boat moored in a remote
location--what better way to enjoy a romantic meal for two?
Smoked Salmon with Creme Fraiche Potatoesrecipe recipe from 86 San Francisco (with some minor modifications) Restaurant 231 Ellsworth
Creme Fraiche Potatoes The potatoes are delicious on their own and can be served as a side dish to accompany many main dishes.
8 baby yukon potatoes 1 cup creme fraiche 2 diced cornichons 1 tbsp chervil, minced 1 tbsp chives, minced 1 tbsp parsley, minced 2 finely diced shallots (optional) 1 lemon, juice and zested salt and pepper to taste
Smoked Salmon 1/2 lb smoked salmon, thinly sliced
Garnish capers finely diced or snipped parsley and/or dill
Preparing the Potatoesand Salmon Add potatoes to a large pot of cold, salted water. Bring to boil and then lower heat, simmering until done. Drain and let cool until you can handle them. While the potatoes are cooking, combine the creme fraiche-potato ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.
Next, cover the middle of 2 large plates with thin slices of smoked salmon. Exactly how you arrange the slices is up to you and your preferred presentation. Set aside until ready to serve.
Mixing the Potatoes When cool, peel the potatoes (it is easier while they are slightly
warm). Slice or cut them based on how you choose to present this dish. When you are ready to serve, place the potatoes in a large bowl with creme fraiche mix and carefully combine until the potatoes are covered in the creme fraiche.
Plating the dish Take the salmon plates and place a portion of the potatoes on top of, or on the side of the salmon. Again, this will depend upon how you prefer to plate your dish. Sprinkle salt and pepper and a good squeeze of fresh lemon on top of the salmon. Garnish with capers and snipped parsley and/or dill Serve with toast points or sliced baguettes.
As quoted on the new James Beard web site: "There are decadent dinners and then there are those that are downright sinful. For this event, guest Chef Thanawat Bates created an inspired menu of indulgent dishes that embody the seven deadly sins. You may have to say a few extra Hail Marys, but each delicious bite will be well worth the penance." I immediately called James Beard to reserve my place for
this seductively sinful dinner.
Being in a kitchen with Thanawat Bates is like being in an artists studio. The way in which he creatively "paints" each dish is something to behold. Watch the slide show below for a step-by-step lesson on how he plates his Wagyu Beef dish, or the two images showing his salad creation. I could easily see his dishes in a gallery. So let's shift gears now and focus on his concept of presenting the evening's masterpieces as the 7 deadly sins.
Guest Chef: Thanawat Bates of Palace Arms at the Brown Palace Hotel, Denver, CO. The hotel is a Mobil Four-Star, AAA Four-Diamond luxury landmark and Palace Arms has been referred to Denver's eminent equivalent to New York's 21 Club.
Pride Enjoying one of our first spring like evenings, Pride was served and devoured in the outdoor garden Whimsical
Coq au Vin with Caramelized Onion-Mushroom Duxelle, Red Wine Reduction,
and Bacon Chips. Rossini with Toasted Brioche, Bison Roulade, and
Madeira-Foie Gras Hollandaise Gin-Cured Tuna with Toasted Nori, Watermelon, and Chinese Black Vinegar Served with Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé NV
Wrath Represented by the anger and wrath of the Scorpian, this dish was artfully prepared. I love the big yellow swoosh on the plate.
Scorpionfish with Spicy Slaw, Roasted Poblano Sauce, and Micro-Cilantro Served with Don Olegario Albariño 2006
Sloth Beets were chosen because they are easily cooked to perfection with little fuss. Roasted, steamed, or boiled there isn't much effort required to ensure great results. However, rest assured an easy preparation was not taken, as this chef flavored the water, combined distinct elements of contrasting tastes,
and added his enchanting artist's touch to plating this abstract artistic salad.
Beets with Watercress Salad, Candied Walnuts, Blue Cheese, and Horseradish Vinaigrette Served with Louis Jadot Pinot Noir 2005
Gluttony Foie Gras, Sweetbreads, and Bone Marrow. What more needs to be said...Pure gluttony!.
Foie Gras with Sautéed Sweetbreads, Bone Marrow, Sabayon, and Hazelnut-Mustard Streusel Served with Inniskillin Vidal Icewine 2006
Greed The most expensive beef you can find, Wagyu, also known as Kobe beef, combined with Truffles - deliciously extravagant.
Wagyu Beef with Sautéed Abalone, Truffled Potato Purée, Sea Urchin, and Shallot-Sherry Vinaigrette Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Envy Envy and jealousy are represented by the richness of this panna cotta, not to mention the Jackson Pollock splash of red sauce the sets the stage for this wonderful dessert..
Lemon Panna Cotta, Vanilla Cloud, and Orange-Vodka Caramel Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato 2007
Lust And last but not least, let us not go home without the aphrodisiac qualities of chocolate which just screams LUST!
Truffles with Strawberry-Champagne Gelée, Gold Dust, Rose Aroma, and Chocolate
In a recent interview to
promote her new memoir, author Isabelle Allende said it best. While
having lunch with Sunday Star Times writer Janet Hawley, Isabelle
served a specially prepared meal served with Chilean white wine.
"Gluttony and lust are the only deadly sins worth the trouble, my
dear," she says, raising her glass. "Please eat more."
You've got to
Chef Thanawat Bates, thank you for a truly seductive, sinful gourmet feast!
future events at the James Beard House, sign up for the James Beard
newsletter--there is no better place to learn from the pros.