Food Art: Layering Food for Visual and Epicurean Effect.
Art of Making Food Attractive
Are you tired of making food the same old way? Stir-fry, bake, broil, microwave—don’t they all amount to a piece of meat, a side of vegetables and for the health conscious, a helping of whole-grain carbohydrates? Cooking by the books (or by rote or out of compulsion) can get old and boring and you may find yourself in a food rut. What if you can play with food, make it come out like a piece of art work? What if you can throw caution to the wind—ditch the measuring aids, go easy on specific instructions and just go with the flow? My kind of food art allows you to do just that. A la Nage, Al dente, batter, beat, blanch, blend, carmalize, clarify, dredge, dust (and that’s just the skimming off the first few alphabetical food terms)--my layering food art has none of the technicalities. It is simple stacking of foods, a juxtaposition of choice ingredients to please both the eyes and the appetite. It requires no cooking talents (if there’s such a thing). However, a sense of adventure is highly recommended for a totally satisfying experience.
And just like what your elementary art teacher told you, “There is no such thing as an ugly piece of art,” this form of food art has the same approach. It may not look like the delectable platter served in Mesa Grill, but the experience may be so enriching that it outweighs any monetary tag.
In this hub, I’ll show you how to use layering to make a casserole, a salad and a dessert to complete the meal. Maybe eclectic but it has all the food groups—carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins and minerals. Think international—Asian, Greek (or whatever) and French. And because you get to construct the food, they may taste more delicious than ever. Try them.
Food Fact About Tryptophan
Tryptophan, the amino acid found in turkey, is often blamed for inducing sleepiness after the Thanksgiivng turkey meal. According to health experts, not guilty! Although tryptophan does elevate mood, due to the fact that the body uses tryptophan to make niacin and serotonin (known for inducing healthy sleep and mood), it is the rather huge meal that works collectively to induce the lull.
Besides its ability to enhance mood, Tryptophan is also necessary for normal growth in infants and nitrogen balance in adults, according to Medline Plus. Other foods rich in tryptophan includes cheese, chicken, eggs, fish, milk, nuts, seeds (particularly sesame and pumpkin), soy and tofu.
My mom used to make this low-fat meat dish with all the ingredients mixed together and then steamed to perfection. I use her basic recipe but made a few modifications. First of all, I ditched the ground pork for ground turkey (less fat and high in tryptophan).Instead of steaming, I bake it. It takes less effort to bake since I don’t have to wash the steamer. I then stratified the dish into layers to give it a visual effect.
- ½ pack (10 oz) of ground turkey
- 1/2 a slab of soft tofu, cubed
- A small fistful of oats
- 1 teaspoon of cornstarch
- 3 stalks of green onion, chopped
- A few sprigs of cilantro, chopped
A quarter of a large onion, finely chopped
5 eggs, mixed with 1 cup of water, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper and a sprinkling of sugar and half a teaspoon of soy sauce. Mix well.
- 2 tablespoon of soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Put ground turkey, oats, chopped onion and half of the chopped green onion in a big bowl. Add seasonings and cornstarch and mix well.
- Spray the bottom and sides of a 11” by 8” casserole dish with non-stick spray.
- Spread seasoned ground turkey on the bottom of the casserole dish.
- Sprinkle cubed tofu, followed by chopped green onion and cilantro.
- Pour in egg mixture. The garnishing will float to the top.
- Bake at 375 degree Fahrenheit for 45 minutes or until top is golden brown.
Cut into slabs and enjoy your main entrée. Warning: The entrée may look like dessert, so go easy on serving portion.
Food Fact About Olive Oil
Ever wonder why olive oil is considered healthy? According to Mayo clinic, the kind of fat found in olive oil is monounsaturated fatty acids, or MUFAs, for short. MUFAs may lower your risk for cardiovascular diseases by lowering total cholesterol and low-density cholesterol. Some research also shows that MUFAs may also regulate blood sugar level. That's great news for people with type 2 diabetes.
But that's not all. Combining fresh vegetables with olive oil can help your body absorb nutrients more easily, according to dietitian, Wendy Bazilian, also the author of "The Superfoods Rx Diet." Maybe, that's why ancient wisdom has given us the tradition of eating greens with a dash of olive oil or other healthy oils such as grapeseed, canola and sesame.
Cucumber-Tomato Stack Salad
This easy-to-assemble salad (you may feel like a construction worker) takes less than 15 minutes to put together. If you love to play Jenga, you may be happy to know that’s the main skill needed in this salad making. Although this salad has Greek trappings, it defies any categorization—after all—it’s the result of playing with what I have in the refrigerator. So, don’t be alarmed by the choice of cheese. I use Gouda instead of the traditional Feta cheese typically used in a Greek salad.
- 1 cucumber, cut into circles
- 2 tomatoes, cut into rings
Half an onion, cut into rings
- ½ teaspoon of dried oregano
- Half a cup of sliced Gouda cheese
- Olive oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Garlic salt and pepper to taste
Spread circles of cucumber on a large plate. This is the foundation.
Add one layer of tomatoes on top of the layer of cucumber.
To that, add a layer of onion.
Sprinkle some garlic salt and pepper over the layers and repeat this every three layers.
Repeat order of layering until all the building materials are gone.
Top with Gouda cheese, dried oregano , some garlic salt and pepper.
Drizzle olive oil and red wine vinegar over.
Your pyramid of vegetables is ready to serve.
Food Fact About Anthocyanins
The pigments found in brightly colored fruits (and vegetables) are due to a group of powerful antioxidants, identified as anthoyanins. The brighter the better--think hues and health--orange, blue, red, green, purple and all the stunning colors in between--they play a crucial part in helping you stay in good health. According to the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology, anthocyanins have historically been used to treat liver disfunction, hypertension and bilberry anthoyanins (blueberries as well) were also used traditionally to help vision disorders, microbial infections, diarrhea and other heatlh disorders.
According to Natural News, anthocyanins helps to fight cancer by stalling the growth of pre-malignant cells (and conversely, accelerate cancer cell death), and reduce inflammation. Blueberries are believed to be the richest source of anthocyanins.
The French word “Parfait” means perfect. And there is no more perfect way to end a meal than a light dessert. You can use any fruits (fresh or frozen) and add some healthy scoops of toasted oats or your favorite granola to maximize health benefits. Oats are good cholesterol fighters and heart friendly. You can make it fancy or build it matter-of-factly—one layer on top the other, no need for inspiration, other than the one to enjoy.
- Low-fat yogurt
- Cubes of mango
- 1/2 cup of blueberries
- Slices of strawberries
Use a clear glass or parfait or wine glass.
Spread one layer of yogurt, smooth surface.
Add a layer of fruits (mango,blueberries, strawberries) and smooth it out.
Add toasted oats or granola and even it out.
Repeat process until you fill up the cup.