Issue #16, January 14th, 2010
Bonjour et bienvenue to La Marmite!
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.
Verrine poire, roquefort, et noix
Crumble the blue cheese with a fork in a bowl. Add the creme fraiche or cream and beat with a hand mixer to make a smooth mousse. Stir in the chopped walnuts
Sprinkle the diced pears with the lemon juice.
Layer the glasses starting with the pears, and topping with the cheese. Decorate each with a walnut half. Refrigerate, but remove from refrigerator about 1/2 hour before serving to fully appreciate.
Makes 12 servings.
fromage blanc, saumon fumé
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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A bientôt and remember to enjoy your food!
Your friend in France,