Garnishes

Individual Sushi Salads

 

individual sushi salad 1

My kids all love sushi.   To them, having sushi as an appetizer Shabbos lunch is a real luxury.  While sushi is a fan favorite, I don’t feel that it has enough nutritional value as it is mostly rice.  Furthermore, sushi rolls do not stay fresh enough from Friday until Shabbos lunch to make for an appetizing appetizer.

So, I have been preparing individual sushi salads as a Shabbos lunch appetizer, instead.

And, sushi salads eliminate most of  the fussiness of rolling sushi.  I can choose the proportions of each element in the sushi salad, favoring more vegetables and fish than rice and nori.  The elements of the sushi salad can all be prepared in advance.   Furthermore, they are all simple ingredients that I can use in different ways for the Friday night Shabbos dinner.  And,  best of all, once assembled on Shabbos morning, the individual sushi salad ingredients stay perfectly fresh, simply delicious and gorgeous until ready to serve.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup sushi rice (I favor brown sushi rice) prepared in rice cooker

1/4 cup rice vinegar

baked or roasted salmon fillet, cubed or shredded

nori, cut into thin strips

1 medium avocado

1-2 zucchini or cucumber, diced or grated

1-2 Carrots, grated (optional)

Simple and Perfect Spicy Mayo

 

DIRECTIONS

Prepare sushi rice in a rice cooker, using 1 cup of rice to 1 cup of water.   Add 1/4 cup rice vinegar to prepared sushi rice.

Prepare salmon fillet.  Cube or shred.

Cube avocado and place in a solution of 1 cup water with juice of one lemon.

Grate cucumber, zucchini and/or carrots.

Gently roll nori sheets and cut thin strips with scissors.

In a clear glass or plastic bowl, layer cooked rice, salmon, nori, avocado, cucumber and carrot.  Drizzle spicy mayo on top and garnish with thin strips of nori drizzle of spicy mayo.

TIPS

For Shabbos lunch, prepare salmon, rice and grated vegetables before Shabbos.  Store each ingredient separately in a zipper bag.  Prepare Simple and Perfect Spicy Mayo and store in 16-oz wide-mouth squeeze bottles or 24-oz wide mouth squeeze bottles.

Before assembling, mix sushi rice with rice vinegar.  Cut or shred salmon.  Cube avocado and place in a solution of 1 cup water with juice of one lemon.

In a clear glass or plastic bowl, layer cooked rice, salmon, nori, avocado, cucumber and carrot.  Drizzle spicy mayo on top and garnish with thin strips of nori and drizzle of spicy mayo.

 

VARIATIONS

For Pesach, substitute quinoa for the sushi rice and cider vinegar for the rice vinegar.

 

PLATING TIPS

Use clear glass or plastic bowl and overlap thin strips of nori on top, creating an x or star for an impressive presentation.

 

individual sushi salad

Frosted Candied Grapes

Grapes are featured prominently at the annual Pesach (Passover) seder (festive meal, lit: order).  After all, we drink four cups of wine or grape juice and the seder ceremony begins with the kiddush (santification) over the first cup of wine (or grape juice).  Wine is featured in the charoset (fruit and nut dip symbolizing mortar) for the maror (bitter herbs).

The seder is a mixture of tradition and whimsy.  It is the only night on the Jewish calendar when we sing Hallel (songs of praise) and tell the story of Egypt at length.  It is an evening in which we engage the children and pass these Jewish traditions from generation to generation.  In fact, so much of the elements of the seder are intended to pique the interest of our children.

Which brings me to candied grapes.  We are taught that parents are to give their children special foods and gifts in order to engage them at the seder.  So, why not combine the elements of tradition and whimsy in creating these adorable and delicious candied grapes?

One note of caution, though.  The round shape of the grapes  can create a choking hazard for small children.  These grapes should not be given to young children, unless they are quartered.

These grapes can make a delicious snack or the perfect garnish for desserts.

 
candied grapesINGREDIENTS

1 box jello
grapes

 
DIRECTIONS

Rinse individual grapes thoroughly in a colander. Spread jello powder in a pie plate or large plate.  Coat grapes with powder.    Place on waxed or parchment paper to dry.
Refrigerate for 1 hour to allow gelatin to set.

NOTES

The round shape of the grapes  can present a choking hazard for small children.  These grapes should not be given to young children, unless they are quartered.

Pomegranate Truffles

pomegranate-truffles

There is something about pomegranate seeds that are oh, so delicious and create such a taste and texture sensation.  The soft outside and the pop in your mouth juiciness is something so unique and so wonderful.  The bright red color is reminiscent of a red heart and what better ingredient to pair with pomegranate seeds than chocolate?

As we just celebrated Tu Beshvat over the past weekend, we took time to pause and reflect on the vast assortments of fruit that grace our world.  The pomegranate, whose seed bursts are the only edible part of the fruit truly symbolize the dormant and vast potential in each one of us.

This simple recipe is quite a palate sensation.  It combines the decadence of chocolate with the juiciness of pomegranate.  It takes moments to prepare and will simply wow you.

INGREDIENTS
seeds of one pomegranate
6 ounces of good chocolate
sea salt (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Melt chocolate and with a spoon or spatula, place mounds of chocolate on the parchment paper, reserving a small amount of melted chocolate.  Place a small mound of pomegranate seeds atop each chocolate mound.  Drizzle the rest of the chocolate over the truffles using a fork or a piping bag.

Optionally, garnish each pomegranate truffle with a few sea salt crystals.

These may be prepared a day in advance, but should be stored in the refrigerator.

Frosted Sugar-Coated Cranberries

frosted-cranberries-with-chocolate

My sister-in-law, Suzy, is an excellent and adventurous cook.  My kids always look forward to Suzy’s signature salads and we know that we are in for a treat whenever we are invited to Itzy and Suzy’s house.  Even when Suzy just prepares a “simple” meal, we are always impressed by her delicious dishes.

Years ago, we were guests at Suzy’s Thanksgiving dinner.  Suzy’s brined turkey was the moistest turkey ever and she served so many delicious and creative side dishes.  What I remember the fondest, though, were the frosted cranberries that Suzy placed on the bundt cake for dessert.

The inner cranberry core of these frosted cranberries still retained the tart taste and pop-in-your mouth texture.  The outer frosted layer packed a sweet taste with a firm sugar bite.

There was something about the clash of textures, firm and pop-in-your mouth.

There was something about the clash of flavors, sweet and tart.

Oh, and they were so beautiful.

Suzy is great about sharing recipes. It really is…simple to wow!

This has become my favorite winter dessert garnish.  I think it will become yours, too.

 

INGREDIENTS:

1  bag fresh cranberries

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

1/2 to 1 cup sugar for tossing

 

DIRECTIONS

Check and rinse an entire bag of cranberries, discarding any soft or shriveled ones.

Create a simple syrup by dissolving 1/2 cup sugar in 1/2 cup water in a microwave safe glass dish or on the stovetop. Remove simple syrup from heat and stir cranberries into simple syrup until well coated. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cranberries to a wax-paper coated tray or to a wire rack. Allow sugared cranberries to air-dry for several hours.

frosted-cranberries-after-simple-syrup

Place an additional cup of sugar in a shallow bowl or pie plate.  By the handful, toss cranberries in sugar until well coated.   Add sugar, if necessary.  Spread coated cranberries on wax paper and allow to air-dry for at least 1 hour.

frosted-cranberries

Serve as a sweet-tart dessert or as a dessert garnish.

Simple Radish Flower Garnish

A simple vegetable garnish can really make an appetizer, serving dish or hors d’oeuvres   platter look spectacular.   I like to create garnishes with simple ingredients and ordinary tools.  This radish flower garnish is a simple one to create and can be used in dozens of wow ways.

I demonstrate this garnish with a red radish.  It can easily be created with any type of radish, although I find that the best results are with red radishes that are tall and narrow. Very round radishes will also work but will not open up as much as the tall, narrow ones..

radish-bunch

 

 

INGREDIENTS

radishes
ice water
plastic container or mason jar

 

INSTRUCTIONS

 

 

Scrub the radish and carefully trim the root end of the radish creating a flat bottom. Position the radish with the flat root end on the bottom

 

Score the radish making scallop-shaped cuts as close to the peel as possible from just below the tip to just above the bottom of the radish.  Be careful not to make the cut all the way to the bottom or the radish cuts will not hold together.

Turn the radish and keep making scallop-shaped cuts, overlapping each cut and going around the radish.  The closer to the peel that the cuts are made, the more decoratively the radish flower will open when soaked.

 

Prepare a mason jar or plastic container with ice water and soak the radish garnishes for at least 20 minutes.

 

The radishes will open up to resemble flowers.

radish-garnish-open-many

Simple Kiwi Flower Garnish

kiwi garnish with single golden kiwi 2

A simple, yet beautiful garnish adds elegance and whimsy.  This one is so simple and only takes 30 seconds to prepare.  It uses the whole kiwi with no waste and needs only a small paring knife as a kitchen tool.

It would make a gorgeous centerpiece for a fruit platter, fruit pie or as a kiwi garnish accompaniment to a plated dessert.  With green and golden kiwis available right now, this garnish can be easily prepared in either color.  Just take care to use kiwis that are firm .

This kiwi garnish resembles a water lily lotus flower.  It would look gorgeous on an edible leaf like a lemon leaf with just a few chocolate truffles as an accompaniment. (more…)

Fruit Salad: It’s All About that Boat

I recently sent over fruit salad for a refreshing summer dessert in honor of our friends’ simcha (happy occasion).  The fruit salad was so simple to prepare.  I just sliced the pineapple, using an  all-metal pineapple corer and slicer and I used a melon baller to create uniform spheres of watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew.

For a contemporary twist, I often opt to serve festive food on long and narrow platters that are lightweight and unique.  For fruit, I usually opt for a serving dish that has some depth to catch any dripping juices.  I found just the right serving dish.

It was a hammered bronze metal elongated bowl with a jagged edge, just big enough to make a statement and just small enough to fit in my friend’s refrigerator until time to serve.

I added a few interesting 4″ bamboo toothpicks and voila!

fruit salad in metal bowl

 

Patriotic Chocolate Bark: Simple and Pareve

Chocolate bark is one of the easiest dessert creations.  It takes moments to prepare, is a canvas for creativity and can be served in a myriad of different ways.  This one is perfect for a patriotic July 4th celebration.

It is a combination of chocolate, nuts, sprinkles and colorful fruit.  It can be served whole to resemble a brushed version of the American flag.  It can be cut into squares or can be broken into chards to garnish desserts.  Either way, this simple dessert will delight you  with the red, white and blue colors that are so patriotic and oh, so sweet!

INGREDIENTS

1 bag of chocolate chips or chocolate pieces

blueberries or black grapes sliced in half, carefully soaked and rinsed or confectionery stars
strawberries, carefully soaked and rinsed (see kosher notes), freeze-dried strawberries or craisins
almonds, candied ginger or white marshmallows, mini or  cut into strips

patriotic chocolate bark 2

DIRECTIONS

Melt chocolate in microwave or over a double boiler until smooth.   I used the microwave to melt chocolate  on a flat microwave-proof plate for 6-8 minutes on the timed defrost cycle.

Pour chocolate over a parchment paper-lined baking sheet or wax paper, spreading with a rubber or silicone spatula to about 1/8 or 1/4-inch thick.  I like to spread the chocolate as thin as possible without being translucent.

While still hot, decorate the chocolate with the fruit and nuts for a creative rendition of the American flag.  Place blueberries, grapes or stars in a grid fashion on the left corner of the chocolate to represent the stars.   Create rows of sliced strawberries or craisins and almonds, ginger or marshmallows to create the stripes of the flag . Carefully set each piece of fruit and nut into place by gently pushing into the warm chocolate.

Allow bark to cool on counter or in refrigerator, until chocolate hardens.

If serving in squares, score with a knife before chocolate hardens,  If breaking into chards, wait until chocolate has cooled and hardened.

patriotic chards

Store in ziploc bag or wrap individual pieces in plastic bags.

patriotic chocolate bark with blue white stars

KOSHER NOTES

Kosher laws disallow the eating of any whole insects and therefore strawberries require a process of soaking, rinsing and in some cases, pureeing. Kashrut authorities differ somewhat on the proper checking of strawberries and some disallow the eating of strawberries, altogether. This blog was not designed to be your kosher authority, so please consult your local rabbinic authority regarding the use of strawberries.

 

SERVING SUGGESTIONS

Place chards or squares atop cheesecake,  brownies or ice cream.

patriotic chard over brownie

Simple Chocolate Bark with Flowers and Dried Fruit

Chocolate bark has become one of my favorite simple and beautiful dessert embellishments.  This week, I created a sweet and delicious bark that was sweet, bright and beautiful with some surprisingly savory ingredients, as well.  I melted a combination of white and milk chocolate and added fresh pansies from my flowerpots, mint and rosemary from my garden and an assortment of salted nuts and craisins.  I served this bark as the perfect accompaniment to small squares of Simply the Best Flourless Chocolate Cake.  I plan to also served this as a wow garnish for simple pieces of cheese cake for Shavuos.

chocolate bark with nut mint and pansies up close with logo

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Simple Mini Cheesecakes with Gorgeous Garnishes

Shavuos is on its way!  Cheesecake is one of the staples of the upcoming holiday of Shavuos, since we are commanded to eat dairy foods at our festive meals (Countdown to Shavuos: Floral Inspirations and Dairy Recipes) on Shavuos.

This year, Don and I are still on a low-carb diet.    We didn’t want to forego cheesecake, but I wanted to make sure to use a minimum of carbs in my cheesecake preparation.  I decided to create portion-size cheesecakes to keep the portion size well-controlled.  This will allow us to enjoy a taste of heaven without feeling deprived, but keeping our diet “cheating” to a minimum.

Best of all, I skipped the carb-heavy crust and created some beautiful and tasty garnishes to embellish these simple and delicious mini cheesecakes.  They are light, delicious, fresh-tasting, gluten-free and simply divine.

This recipe does not require a springform pan or a water bath for baking.  It is best to bring the ingredients to room temperature just before preparation.  Preparation takes a few minutes and the baking takes less than 20 minutes.  It is best made in disposable or porcelain ramekins.  It makes 6 medium size or 12 mini ramekins.

 

Supplies

3-4 inch ramekins Set of 6 three ounce ramekins or aluminum disposable mini ramekins 39mm

 

Ingredients

1 pound cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

mini cheese cakemini cheese cake with strawberry and chocolate garnishmini cheese cake with chocolate barkmini cheese cake with chocolate bark only

Directions

It is best to bring the ingredients to room temperature before baking to prevent cracking, although I have made this recipe effectively with ingredients right out of the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Spray ramekins with cooking spray.

Beat  cream cheese with eggs with a whisk, in a food processor or with a mixer, just until smooth and creamy.  Add rest of ingredients, beating and incorporating well.  You may have to scrape sides of bowl to incorporate everything well until combined, smooth and creamy.

Pour mixture into ramekins, filling 2/3 of the way to the top.  I find it easiest to pour the mixture from a glass measuring cup with a spout..

Bake mini ramekins for 15 minutes, 3-4″ ramekins for about 18-20 minutes.  Cheesecake will rise slightly.  Centers should be set, although the cheese cake will appear to be slightly jiggly.

Remove from the oven and  cool completely.  Chill the cheesecakes in the ramekins for at least 2 hours or overnight.

The cheese cakes can be served directly  in the ramekins or can be removed from the ramekins and served upside side.  If removing from the ramekins, carefully turn over on a serving plate.  Allow cheese cake to rest for a few minutes before garnishing.

Garnish with fruit, berries, edible leaves and flowers, chocolate bark (Chards of Colorful Chocolate Bark: Whimsical and Delicious)or whole or crumbled cookies.

 

Variations

This recipe can be made as a small single cheesecake.  Generously grease a round baking pan.  Prepare ingredients as above and pour ingredients into greased round pan.  Increase baking time to 30 minutes or until center is set.  Garnish as above.

 

Prepare a crust by crumbling 1 cup of  your favorite cookies with 3 tablespoons of melted butter or coconut oil.  Press into the bottom of each ramekin and bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool before pouring cheesecake batter over the crust.  Continue to bake as above.  You may have to gently coax cheesecake out of ramekin or pan using a smooth knife to unseat the edges of the crust.

mini cheese cake with crust and edible pansies

Chards of Colorful Chocolate Bark: Whimsical and Delicious

Chocolate Bark is so versatile and beautiful.  The finished product can be elegant, playful or whimsical, depending upon the ingredients selected.   The background can be any type of chocolate, dairy or pareve.  The embellishments can be any combination of sweet or savory to create beautiful colors, tastes and textures.

I have tried so many different types of barks and every one has been a winner.  I like to spread the chocolate as thin as possible, so that a little bit of chocolate creates the thinnest piece of luxurious decadence.  Once the bark has cooled, I break it into asymmetric chards.  I serve these by themselves or as an embellishment to fudgy brownies or ice cream.

chocolate bark confetti as embellishment

 

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Scallion Confetti Curls: A Simple Garnish

Garnishes put the wow into a dish.  This one is fast and simple.

scallion-garnish-ingredients.jpg

 

Cut green part of scallion into three to four inch sections.  Slice narrow and long ribbons with a sharp paring knife.

scallion granisj-cut small

Separate scallion pieces into thinnest slivers possible using knife or by hand.

scallion-garnish-in-ice-water

Drop the green onion slivers into ice water and submerge completely for at least 20 minutes or refrigerate overnight.

 

 

Voila!

 

scallion-garnish-finished

Simple Chocolate Bark with Flowers and Dried Fruit

I love thin and delicious chocolate bark embellished with all my favorites.  It is a simple dessert and also makes a perfect garnish for a simple cake or mousse.  It is the perfect accompaniment to Simply the Best Flourless Chocolate Cake

chocoalte bark cut into sections on cake

As your bark background, you can use your favorite chocolate: white, milk or dark.  The embellishments can be any combination of edible flowers, dried fruit, candied fruit or ginger and/or all types of nuts and seeds.

For this chocolate bark, I used semisweet chocolate chips and white chocolate chips. I added raisins, craisins, candied pineapple bits and fresh pansy petals.

chocolate bark with pansies and raisins (more…)

Edible Ginger Candy Spoons

I love ginger in all shapes and forms. I use ginger as a spice in many dishes. I love ginger ale, candied ginger and pickled sushi ginger.  Whenever we eat sushi, I become the lucky recipient of everyone’s pickled sushi ginger and I love it.

I especially love ginger with my tea.  For a recent dinner party, I prepared ginger spoons to serve with dessert and  tea. They were simple to prepare, delicious  and just gorgeous.

ginger-spoons-supplies

SUPPLIES

Ginger drops (or any type of hard candy)
Silicone Baking Spoon Mold (Small Silicone Spoons with thick handle)
Hammer or heavy mallet)

INSTRUCTIONS

Purchase a molded silicone spoon design baking mold  suitable for 300 degrees F heat.  I prefer one that has a thick stem for each molded spoon, since the weakest point of the molded spoon will be the piece right underneath the cup of the spoon, The thicker the spoon base and stem is, the less likely it will be to crack when unmolding.

Preheat oven to 300°F.
Unwrap candies and place in a thick zipper bag. Use a small hammer or mallet to crush the candies into small pieces.

ginger-spoons-ingredients-with-mallet

Thickly heap the small pieces of ginger into the molds, placing the thickest amount of crushed candy right where the stem meets the base of the cup of the spoon. Make sure that the candy is layered in thick and brush the area between the spoons back into the spoon molds.

Bake at 300 for 10 minutes. Shut the oven and leave in the oven for 10-20 minutes more. Allow to cool completely before unmolding.

Voila!

ginger-spoons

ginger-spoons-with-tea-setup

VARIATIONS

Use any type of hard candy in place of the ginger drops.  Use lemon drops, butterscotch candies, peppermints or your favorite hard candy.

Use your favorite baking silicone mold to fashion candy into different shapes.  This simple technique yield extraordinary candy garnishes for desserts.

NOTES

These spoons are gorgeous when placed on a dessert buffet with assorted teas and coffee. They are spectacular served with hot apple cider, too.

If you have loose shards of crushed candy left over before or after baking these spoons, sprinkle them on top of  frosted cupcakes for a delicious surprise.

A Simple, Delicious and Beautiful Flourless Fruit Tart

When I entertain, I love to serve a fruity dessert. Few can resist a dessert topped with fresh fruit. Berries are in season and this Pesach (Passover) fruit tart can be made with your favorite assortment of berries and fruit.

I made mine using a combination of frozen blueberries, strawberries and cranberries.  I topped mine with a mango rose.  This tart is simple to prepare and is a show-stopper.

It is simple, delicious and gorgeous.

mango rose tart complete (more…)

Rainbow Carrot Curls: A Wow Garnish

Trader Joe’s sells bags of organic rainbow carrots.  The carrots come in all hues of the rainbow: dark red, white, bright yellow and the “ordinary” orange carrots.  It is a small splurge, but well worth it in the “wow” factor.

rainbow carrots ingredients

These carrots are low in calories and powerful in vitamin A and antioxidants. Rainbow carrot curls will add a pop of color and a delicious flavor to your plating.  Here is the simple technique to create rainbow carrot curls.

 

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Curly Scallion Garnish: Simple and Wow

scallionsVegetable garnishes can take a plated appetizer or serving platter from simple to wow.  I like to create garnishes with ordinary ingredients and tools.  There are so many garnishes that can be created using simple tools that you already own.

This garnish elevates a simple scallion (green onion) to a wow garnish with the use of a regular paring knife and ice water. Try it!

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