This month we're exploring the immensely popular nosh in a glass - Les Verrines. I've included three recipes, but this is the sort of dish that invites creativity, so I'm hoping you'll think up your own.
A Trendy Food
I think it would be impossible to visit France these days without at some point encountering a verrine. This culinary phenomenon has enjoyed an explosion in popularity in recent years. You might be served a verrine in a three star
restaurant, but you are just as likely to discover them at a friend's house. Everyone, it seems, has jumped on the verrine bandwagon.
Typically, verrines are . . .
Layered - Contrasting tastes, textures, and colors are what make verrines so appealing.
Served in clear glasses - That way you can appreciate the layering.
Small - Most verrine glasses sold in France are about 2 ounces.
Served cold or at room temperature - This makes them ideal for making ahead.
Served as an appetizer or part of a cocktail dinatoire - This French party features ample finger food, served in waves, starting with savory noshes and ending with small desserts.
Verrines can be either savory or sweet, and French chefs have been infinitely imaginative in creating new effects. They may spend hours preparing the various layers that go into a particular taste combination.
For my part, I like to keep verrines simple and will resort to using prepared ingredients such as pesto, humus, guacamole and eggplant caviar to save time. Leftovers can also be a great start to a verrine. This is supposed to be easy after all.
You can adapt your favorite recipes to create your own verrines. For example this leek tart recipe could be transformed into a verrine - one layer of tapenade, one
layer of fresh goat cheese and one layer of caramelized leeks. Or for a dessert, layer chocolate mousse with whipped cream and crumbled cookies.
When making your own verrines strive for contrast, but also harmony. Don't make all the layers spicy, salty, or too rich.
Tip of the Day: A cake decorating tube, or better yet, several tubes, can really come in handy when trying to fill small glasses without making a mess on the sides.
1 cup fromage blanc (substitute greek style yogurt)
2 tablespoons chopped chives
6 ounces smoked salmon, sliced thinly
In a food processor or blender, blend the avocados with the lemon juice to make a smooth puree. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix the fromage blanc with the chopped chives (save a little of the chives for decoration).
Layer the verrines with the pureed avocados, then the fromage blanc and finally the smoked salmon. Garnish with remaining chives. Refrigerate.
Peel and puree 3 kiwis in a food processor or blender. Whip the heavy cream into stiff peaks and set aside. Beat the mascarpone with the sugar until smooth, then gently fold in the whipped cream. Finally, fold in the kiwi puree.
Layer the glasses starting with about 1 tablespoon currant jelly, and topping with the kiwi mousse. Decorate with slices of the remaining kiwi. Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.
Glasses - Finding glasses specifically made for verrines outside of France may be difficult. However, some shot glasses are just about the right size (2 to 3 ounces is perfect for a verrine) and you can find them in a variety of fun shapes. I have also heard of people
using small glass candle holders and recycled jars.
Cookbooks - When researching this topic, I was amazed to find dozens, if not hundreds, of cookbooks that are devoted to the subject. Unfortunately, for the moment almost all appear to be in French. If you can't wait for
more to appear in English, here is one that has been translated (but beware the price on Amazon - it's outrageous!): Verrines: Starters and Sweets in Small Glasses.
More Ideas - Have a look at this fun webpage of verrine ideas. It shows the creations of home cooks all over France and I'm sure
you'll see something tempting and inspiring.
That's it for the verrines. Hope you'll give them a try or at least come to France for one.
For the next issue, due out on February 18th, see if you can guess the topic. Rhymes with verrines, it's . . .?
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