Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Tricky Feast For The Eyes, and Nirvana For The Tummy

Outrageous and whimsical culinary creations to make a splash at any party. Would you like a shovel to serve your salad? Or a snow cone in your cocktail? 

With Barton G., there is only one thing to expect: the unexpected. For him, cooking represents an opportunity to let the imagination run wild. His message: Having fun in the kitchen is the most surefire way to create a fun party. In The Big Dish, Barton G. reveals the secrets to the unforgettable food and over-the-top presentations from his beloved restaurants so you can re-create this magic at your next party or special event. The element of surprise is an underlying theme: no dish is quite what it seems on first inspection. Take the Cheese Board, for example: rounds of brie and camembert turn out to be miniature cheesecakes, and those aren't toasts alongside-they're biscotti. Bite into what looks like a pop tart and discover a savory lobster filling. Small clay pots come planted with crudite vegetable "flowers" in black olive "soil." Sometimes, play comes in the form of scale, such as with the Bucket o' Bones: pork ribs, lamb chops, and chicken drumsticks served in a steel bucket accompanied by sauce and a paintbrush. Other signature constructions include Voo-doo Shrimp, Chocolate Kiss Cake, and Marshmallow Pizza. These dishes will cheer up even the grumpiest of guests and make anyone feel like a kid again.

Check out some of the fun dishes he serves:

Shepherd's Pie Parfaits
"Serving savory food in clear dessert bowls or cocktail glasses is a gorgeous way to highlight the layers of flavor within," writes Weiss of this whimsical take on a dish more frequently seen in shades of brown next to a pint of Guinness. Purple potatoes, sweet potatoes, and baked spinach brighten his take on this classic entrée, which also calls for three kinds of meat.

 Sponges and Scrubbies
Trompe l'oeil presentations are featured throughout the book, and perhaps the most effective is one that turns what looks like after-dinner chores into the next course. Those sponges are actually sponge cake, and the steel wool–like scrubbies are made from shredded phyllo dough. The plates "dirtied" with strawberry sauce can then be cleaned (or at least complemented) with "detergent" made from blue curaçao liqueur, and the soap suds are whipped cream.

Cheesecake Board with Biscotti
Also in the seeing-is-believing category is this cheese board—it's actually a selection of varied cheesecakes that do a remarkable job of approximating brie, cheddar, and blue cheese (food coloring and blueberry jam are used in the latter two). Weiss augments the cream cheese in the base recipe with feta in keeping with the visual game he's playing with this dessert spread.

Giant S'Mores
The mind boggles. Using an angel food cake pan, a crème brulée torch, and an assortment of (normal sized) chocolate bars, graham crackers, and marshmallows as garnish, Weiss coaches readers through how to make a marshmallow that would call for a fence post, not a skewer, were it to be toasted under typical campfire conditions.

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