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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Food As Art

My mom worked in the art field while I was growing up. So naturally I was always drawing, painting, or working on an arts and crafts project. Until recently, I never thought to turn food into art. One of Danny's coworkers is an art specialist, and she introduced him to "watermelon sculpture." We checked out some YouTube videos on the subject and became intrigued. One particular series of videos, by Chef Chang, seemed really easy to follow. We decided to start with an easy flower design. One thing we noticed was that Chef Chang used a special "bird beak knife" to carve intricate designs in the watermelon. I was able to find this set on Amazon, but you might already have a thin carving tool in your own kitchen. After some hesitation, we dove right into carving and surprised ourselves with the end result!                                                                                                                       

You don't need to create a fancy sculpture to create food art. By simply paying attention to detail as you plate your dishes, you can create a satisfying work of art. I have found this to be especially important in raw food. The color and design of raw food dishes provides an additional sensory experience that makes the meal even more enticing. You can play up the natural colors and shapes of raw fruit and vegetables to enhance the taste, smell, and texture of a dish. This is also a useful technique in getting kids to eat more fruits and vegetables. Kids are drawn to anything visually appealing. You can use food design to make meals "fun" for kids (remember the old "ants on a log?"). 

Here are some of my recent creations that look just as great as they taste....

Strawberry Banana Parfaits for my mom's birthday
luscious chocolate avocado mousse, cashew vanilla cream, strawberries, and bananas layer to form a dessert that looks decadent, but is healthy and comes together in a snap

Raw Swiss Chard Salad
rainbow swiss chard, thinly sliced carrot (I usually shred them, but my garden carrots just looked so beautiful this way), onion, raisins, almonds, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, and maple syrup

Southwestern Purslane Salad
Purslane is a highly nutritious edible weed that adds a delicate quality to any salad. It makes a beautiful garnish to any dish as well. Here I added tomato, cucumber, onion, avocado, and a Southwestern style creamy chipotle cashew dressing

And some other pictures of my recent culinary adventures 
(though not as visually appealing as the pictures above)....

My first attempt at veganizing my past love, quiche, was a success! 
Tweaking this recipe, I created a rich filling that included kale, swiss chard, 
broccoli leaves, and leeks. I also used an organic spelt flour crust that I found in 
Fairway Market (it's probably carried in Whole Foods as well).

Vegan Diner Night!
TLT's (tempeh bacon, lettuce, tomato, and hummus) sandwiches, cole slaw, 
pickles, and sauerkraut - way healthier than my typical high school lunch!

(Almost Raw) Thai Peanut Noodles
zucchini noodles, carrots, onions, cilantro, raw peanuts, peanut butter, lime juice, 
olive oil, maple syrup, mellow white miso, and tamari 

And from the garden...

garlic is finally ready!

and big fat carrots!