by Kate Heyhoe
Whenever I go to a farmer's market, I always end up buying much more produce than I can use—simply because it all looks so wonderful and costs so little. To jazz up your summer presentations, make easy garnishes out of fruits and vegetables using a few kitchen tools. You'll need a cutting board, a sharp paring knife, a melon baller and ice water to create garnishes out of green onions or scallions, cucumbers, tomatoes and lemons. Be sure to wash the vegetables before using them.
The Global Gourmet
- Tomato rose:
Starting at the base of the tomato, cut the bottom off but don't cut all the way through. When the bottom is still attached by about 1/2 inch, start moving your knife around the tomato in a spiral fashion, using a sawing motion to cut the tough skin. You want to cut away the peel in one long strip. When you've reached the end, take the long piece of peel and gently roll it up as if you were rolling a carpet. When you get to the end, lay the bottom section flat and nestle the curled peel on top of it.
- Scallion brushes:
Trim off the root end. Cut the scallion into a 4-inch length. Using a small sharp knife, start at 1-1/2 inches from the top of the scallion and slice through the middle lengthwise, drawing your knife to the top end of the scallion. Rotate the scallion on its side and make another slice parallel to the first. Continue making parallel cuts until the end is shredded. Do the same with the other end, leaving 1/2 inch in the middle of the scallion uncut. Drop the scallion into a bowl of ice water and let sit until the ends curl back, looking light and brushy.
- Cucumber turret:
Press the tines of a fork against the side of a cucumber and drag the fork down the length of the cucumber, creating grooves. Do this on all sides. Cut the cucumber into 1-1/2 inch lengths, then hollow out a cup on one side of each section using a melon baller. Fill the cup with a cherry tomato or colorful vegetables, like carrots, red peppers, miniature corn pieces or broccoli, cut into small dice, shreds or slivers (lightly toss them in oil to make them shiny). Cover with a damp towel and refrigerate until ready to use. Before serving you can also sprinkle them with finely chopped chives, small whole capers or a dash of paprika.
- Cucumber grapes:
Using a melon baller, cut cucumbers into balls and arrange them to look like grape clusters, adding fresh herbs or celery leaves as the stem at top.
- Lemon twist:
Slice a thin piece of lemon about 1/8th inch thick. Place it flat on your cutting board and insert the tip of your knife in the center. Pull the knife toward the edge, cutting a slit in the slice. Twist the ends on either side of the slit in opposite directions to form a fanciful fan.
- Citrus spiral:
Peel a long strip of citrus peel using a zester. Tape one end to a straw then wrap the peel around it in a spiral. Freeze until set. To use, remove the straw and cut away the area touched by the tape.
This page first published in 1998.
Copyright © 1998, 2007, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
Modified August 2007