Whether we want to admit it or not... do we ever truly "grow up?" Or should we?
While age often prescribes more responsibilities, I firmly believe that remaining "young at heart" is an essential ingredient in life. Why?
Imagination and creativity seem to exude from children... playing "make believe," transforming cardboard boxes into castles, climbing trees, making forts with bed sheets... here's a foreign concept... reading!
Be that as it may... while you may not have time to be creative in terms of the manner that you dress or fueling your imagination by "playing outside," use the kitchen as a means for your creative outlet. I mean, you have to prepare food anyway... why not take a few extra minutes to make it whimsical?
While I am an advocate of white plates (they allow the food to "pop"), I also welcome other mediums... mirrors, wooden cutting boards, slate, clean rocks, etc.
I once cooked a nine-course meal in which I plated the amuse bouche on a mirror. Why? Why not? The guests enjoyed the nontraditional, yet refined plate of: creamed corn puree, roasted purple Peruvian potato, butter-poached lobster tail, creme fraiche, reduce balsamic vinaigrette and caviar.
Why did this combination work together?
Lobster has a very sweet flavor when slowly poached in butter. In order to compliment the nectarous shellfish, I paired it with a creamed corn puree. Since corn can be a very sweet vegetable, I created a more savory flavor with smoked paprika and thinned with heavy cream. I tossed with a roasted purple Peruvian potato (seasoned with herbs de Provence- the lavender in the herbs de Provence helped to "brighten" the amuse bouche).
A drizzle of reduced balsamic vinaigrette provided a sweet tang, as well as artistic flare on the mirror. Because the lobster tail was warm, the small dollop of creme fraiche melted into the lobster meat and cascaded onto the potato. To top it off, a touch of caviar.
While this is a very rich dish, notice the portion size... an amuse bouche is literally one or two bites. Balance, variety and moderation will allow you to enjoy fine-dining, but also to keep your waist-line in check.
"Creativity is intelligence having fun." - Albert Einstein