Verrines, A tiny taste with a big surprise

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Verrines, a tiny taste with a big surprise.

I like tiny things. I also like layers, colors, textures and waking up my palate with taste surprises. The verrine fits all of these criteria for a new food adventure for my taste buds and for exploring new territory in the kitchen. What is a verrine you may ask? Technically, a verrine, is translated literally as “protective glass.”

According to Susan Hermann Loomis, in, “In a French Kitchen,” the hype may have started in Lyon where a young chef, Nicholas Lebec, started serving pate in a small jar with a tiny spoon. The French obsession with the verrine movement has finally made its way to the American kitchen and is tantalizing our palates and challenging our creativity in the kitchen.

The verrine has evolved to a complex combination of a savory or sweet artfully layered dish served in a small transparent glass container that is as much about how it looks as how it tastes. It can be served as an amuse bouche, appetizer or a dessert. This is fun. We get to play with our food! As the chef, you get to think about taste, presentation, texture, color, mood and theme. A verrine can really be impressive and definitely kick it up a notch as a starter, or amuse bouche, for our next party. The best part is, most verrines can be prepared ahead which is always appealing for the last minute unprepared and less organized cook.

Let’s see, I have the demitasse spoons, now I just need some small glass containers. Anything will work, even small juice glasses.

I am ready to jump on the verrine bandwagon. I begin thinking of all of my favorite foods and recipes and re-thinking how to de-construct and then recompose them to fit into this tiny glass becoming an artistic expression and study of the season. Betty Hallock describes the verrines as “Luxury in a Glass,” in her article in the LA Times.

“A beautiful glass might be filled with a layer of mushroom flan, sautéed wild mushrooms, a julienne of prosciutto, parsley gelee, wild mushroom emulsion and topped with a potato and prosciutto galette. Another will have clementine and mint syrup, fresh clementines and a gingerbread “crumble.” Pure artistry.

My ideas may be a little less sophisticated but I guarantee that my verrine will dazzle you and most importantly taste divine. I am thinking of an amuse bouche to be served before the appetizer. I’ve got it. Smoked salmon verrine. Artfully composed layers of a puree or mousse of avocado, smoked salmon, egg puree, a concasse of cucumber, red onion, capers and parsley, a little drizzle of olive oil and lime, pesto cilantro, a small dollop of sour cream and yogurt and a teaspoon of glistening caviar to top it off. Garnish with a thinly sliced green onion or a single chive standing at attention in the verrine. No recipe needed.

Et voila! Try out my verrine composition, add your own personal touch and check out some of the other photos and recipes for these tiny showstoppers. Now, get in the kitchen and have some fun!

Recipes: Savory and sweet verrines

Photo by Baker's Royale
Caramel Apple Trifle Verrines
Smoked Salmon Verrines




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