Monday, February 21, 2011

Verrines, a Great Party Idea

A Delicious, Beautiful and Easy to Make Party Idea

On my recent trip for a family reunion to Germany, I was often served Verrines when visiting friends. The “Euro Hostess with the Mostess” today is lavishing her culinary imagination on these visually beautiful concoctions.
The word Verrine is a combination of the French Vere (glass) and Terrine. The idea is not exactly new (there was the layered puss café and the sundae, and here in Mexico the addicting seafood cocktails), but it certainly has caught on with a vengeance in Europe, to the point where French glass manufacturers are designing special glasses for this current craze in food presentation. As a former caterer I immediately saw this trend to be an ideal item for easy and successful entertaining. You can layer just about anything in a glass, savory or sweet; it looks beautiful and can be done in advance of serving. The only rule is to make sure that you place softer layers on top of more sold ones to keep the distinct layers. The space they take up in the refrigerator is minimal compared to trying to store any other ready to serve individually portioned-out dishes or platters.
My first inspiration for making a Verrine when I got back to San Miguel de Allende, my home town, was inspired by locally available ingredients.
The deliciously creamy ricotta that my favorite cheese lady sells at the Juan Ramirez market was a good start. In my never-ending research into Mexican cuisines, I had discovered a recipe for a ricotta (requeson) preparation from Chihuahua. It puzzled me because it was nearly identical to a recipe that I savored when in Germany called Bibbeles Käs. In the Mexican recipe tomatoes, fresh chile and cilantro had snug in, replacing the traditional caraway seeds and chives in the German version. There for a meatless Friday meal in catholic parts of the country it was served as a meatless option on freshly steamed potatoes and it is one of my favorite food memories. I am guessing that the Mennonites, many of German origin, must have brought the recipe with them to Chihuahua.
For the Verrine I deconstructed the recipe, giving this current culinary trend a try. I seasoned the ricotta only with salt and pepper, steamed some potatoes, cut them into cubes and layered all the other recipe ingredients in a glass. The result was so delicious and beautiful; I ate the prop after taking the picture.
Let your creativity go! Guten Appetit!

Ricotta Dip “La Soledad” Style
Requesón “La Soledad”

From: Guia Gastronómica Mexico Desconocido, Comida Chihuahuense

This is a very easy to make dip to be served with chips, on toast, steamed potatoes or vegetables. You can store it for a few days, however add the onions only before serving or they will overpower the flavor of the dip.

1 pound ricotta or requesón
½ cup milk or as needed
1 cup tomatoes, diced in ¼ inch cubes
¼ cup onions, finely chopped, rinsed with cold water and well drained
3 or to taste jalapeños, finely chopped
¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped (if you have chives, they are even better)
Salt to taste

If the ricotta is crumbly, stir in as much milk as needed to make a smooth paste, a little thicker than sour cream.
Add all the other ingredients and mix well.
For a fuller flavor, let rest in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes

Note: For the Verrine I made the ricotta a bit firmer so the other ingredients would not sink into it and stay layered.

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