If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you know that I’m a big fan of food, and particularly of food art—delicious food that is colorful, creative and served in a unique way. While food is a necessity for living, it is also a pleasure to be enjoyed. The variety of vegetables, fruits and spices around the world allows for infinite taste combinations. It inspires creativity in the kitchen. It’s why I’ve made one of my goals this year to make 52 new dishes I’ve never made before.
Can food really be considered an art? I firmly believe that yes, it can. It can be arranged in patterns, shapes and designs. It is a visual representation of a creative process. When I cook a meal, I think about the colors of each dish I’m preparing and how I want to arrange each item on the plate. I love creating (and even more, tasting) new food. I believe that beautiful plates make for not just happy tummies, but happy hearts too. I want my dishes not just to fill hungry mouths, but to inspire.
I’m a big fan of parties, mainly because I love concocting food creations based on a specific theme. Pinterest and google are my best friends for ideas. But you must ensure you never sacrifice quality taste for creative display. Your food should look AND taste spectacular! After I get my basic ideas, I enjoy reading a variety of recipes online, and then making a dish that combines aspects from my favorite recipes. My favorite sites include Epicurious and Allrecipes for cooking and Foodnetwork for baking.
Being creative in the kitchen can be as simple as adding a sprig of rosemary to a plate or as complex as making food into animals. Below are seven ways you can get started with being more creative in the kitchen. These are enjoyable whether you create alone, with a friend or with your kids. Turn up your favorite music and get creating!
1- Make food into animals or fun shapes. I love animals of all kinds (except snakes). Perfect for parties (penguins for Christmas or spiders for Halloween) and fun for kids. Remember that cookie cutters are not just for cookies. From pancakes and sandwiches to cucumbers and apples, food can easily transform into hearts, stars... or unicorns.
2- Make smiley faces everywhere. Do you like ketchup or hot sauce on eggs? Make a simple smiley face when serving. Are you used to cutting slits in your pies or breads? Try a smiley face. It’s guaranteed to make everyone smile.
3- Use colorful veggies and fruits. Fruits and vegetables come in every color of the rainbow. If you’re trying to add some color to your dinner, think about including at least five colors in your salad—example: orange carrots, green lettuce, purple cabbage, red peppers, white onions.
The simplest way to add color to a plate is with a salad. Do the same with fruit—try to use at least five colors—example: pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, green grapes and cantaloupe.
4- Use seasonings for color (and delicious taste). I love spices and very flavorful food. Not only are they fun to experiment with, they are beautiful. Making rice for dinner? Consider adding fresh cilantro and black pepper for a pop of color. Turmeric and paprika are also good seasonings to spice up your simple rice dish. For eggs, consider sprinkling rosemary or basil. Options are unlimited. Not sure how to use new spices or how much to add? Always start small and use your tastebuds. You know what you like. If you’re making a dish for two people, you’re probably good starting off with a ½ teaspoon of the spice. Then taste and add more as necessary. If you’re not a big fan of spice, but just want your meal to look pretty, sprinkle very lightly over the dish once it is on the plate. It will give you that color with minimal taste difference.
5- Make three dishes for a meal. I suggest that to make a beautiful dinner plate, you include three separate dishes (for example, a meat, starch and veggie). Odd numbers allow you to arrange beautifully on a plate.
6- The serving plate matters. If you want your food to look beautiful, the way it’s served is extremely important. This should go without saying, but avoid paper or plastic plates whenever possible. It gives the meal a completely different experience when you serve using real plates, silverware and glasses. I love using white dishes because it helps the colors in my food to stand out more. Invest in good, beautiful plates that you enjoy eating and serving from. It will change your food experience.
7- Add a cherry (or garnish) on top. A simple way to make your plate beautiful is to serve your food with small garnishes. Consider serving tuna over a lettuce leaf, peanut butter and jelly with fresh mint on the side or chicken with a lemon curl.
Feel free to share your kitchen creations with me. If you have Instagram, follow me to keep up with my new dishes and ideas.The kitchen is your canvas. Go create and serve beautiful food!