That looks good enough to eat!

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It pleases me to see cooking enthousiast take pictures of their plates and are willing to post them. It doesn't really matter how others percieve them. In french they say;

les goûts et les couleurs ne se discuttent pas. (taste and colors are not to be discussed)

BTW, Koukou, you obviously have artistic talent!

Food is not an artform, but nearly. A painting only hits you through your visual perception. Food appeals to a multiple sensorial perception; a visual perception, a smell, a taste, even sounds and feeling it. The visual presentation is the first introduction. Remember, you never get a second chance to make an impression?
 
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It is nice to see some of the pictures from other members and to think about plating in general.  While I have said in the past that the first bite is taken by the eyes, I haven't really been paying much attention, if any, to presentation of our everyday dinners.  I believe I will start to spend an extra moment or two fussing over our daily dinners.  Nothing too serious or pretentious mind you, just dabbling a bit more in another aspect of this passion.

Of course one thing to keep in mind is that no matter how beautiful the plate, you can't get the best reaction from others with bad photography.  I made a crock pot chili verde and put the recipe on wasatchfoodies.com.  I went poking through some of my pictures and did put one on the recipe page, but I am not that happy with it.  I may take another tomorrow night.  Here's the one I took a while back:



I'm not happy about the glare off the sauce over to the left and off the sour cream.  That glare is what catches my eye before I see the food.  Oh, and ignore that I said "chile verde" and the stuff in the pic is red.  I was experimenting with some different chili powders.  I'm certainly not claiming that this is a world class presentation, I am just pointing out that basic issues of photography can influence what people might think of a picture of food, regardless of how the food actually looks in person, so to speak.

Oh, and as for the comment about boning the chicken thighs, no way for casual home dining.  I get a certain primal satisfaction out of picking up a bone and gnawing on it.  And on a side nore, I have been to Gnawbone, Indiana.  It's a bit east of Beanblossom.

mjb.
 
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The original poster did not infer in their question that they were looking for a professional eye with regards to their plate presentation. 

We critiqued the plate as such though.

As for edible art, it has its' place. There is a cookbook series out there called "Art Culinaire". Comes out 4 times a year and is a hard cover magazine. Issues feature up and coming Chef's from around the world.  I call the magazine "food porn" because of the plate presentations. They may look awesome, but I would not put that in my mouth. How would I put that in my mouth? How woud I eat that?
 
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Was this dish meant to be eaten with all three elements in the same bite?  I thought the "rule" was that the food shouldn't touch anything that shouldn't be eaten in the same bite.  Perhaps cod and dandelion greens go together (never had dandelion greens).  While I'm asking about greens, where do you source dandelion greens from?  I assume the ones outside that the dog pees on aren't the best choice /img/vbsmilies/smilies//smile.gif.  What is the general flavor, or are they somewhat interchangeable with other cooked greens?
 
I'm not very good at plating at all.  I subscribe mostly to the Jamie Oliver way of plating.  Here is my attempt at negative space.  Seared cod on a bed of steamed and dressed dandelion greens topped with a red pepper salsa.
 
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Dandelion greens are grown commercially as well as wildcrafted, Gobblygook. More and more you see them at farmers markets, greengrocers, and even some upscale supermarkets. The Fresh Market offers them regularly. I don't shop at Whole Foods, but it wouldn't surprise me any if they also sell them. And, of course, you can grow your own.

Dandelion is a slighty bitter green; not as much as, say, turnip greens, but a definate bite. Personally, I prefer them as part of a mixed greens salad, rather than served alone.

You don't want to eat too many of them at one time, either, as they can have both a diuretic and laxative effect.
 
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Koukouvagia. Your dishes only need be a little more refined as far as eye appeal Example The asparagus , why not tie in a bundle with leek. Put salsa around the cod instead of over. The cod and meatballs, to much on dish and to much sauce. Practice you will get it  A simple one just cross 3 or 4  whole chives across the Entree on plate.
 
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I live in a greek neighborhood and they sell dandelion greens at every supermarket and vegetable market.  "Horta" or dark leafy greens are a staple of the greek diet.  Dandelions are primary in the fall/winter and are pretty bitter, we also eat escarole and callaloo.  In most cases we boil or blanch them and then dress them like a salad.  Sometimes they are sauteed.  Many greeks grow gardens full of weeds for this purpose.  In rural areas of greece women will go to the hillsides and pick them.  In the case of the cod and greens I do prefer to eat them together, the combination of the bitter green and the sweet red pepper is awesome.

Ed thanks for the suggestions.  I really don't think there is too much on the plate in the cod dish though.  The eggs benedict we were already partway through eating so there was a bit of disassembly there.  However I think that wrapping a leek around my asparagus as I have so often seen in bad wedding food is pretentious and I would never do it as it does not appeal to me.  I guess I prefer food to look a little more home plated.
 
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I was talking about  the salted cod and potato stew dish when I said to much on plate, the other was ok.
 
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 I guess I prefer food to look a little more home plated.

This is, I would say, the key to this entire discussion. When all is said and done, how you plate is a personal choice. And nowhere is it written that an at-home cook needs to behave like a restaurant chef.

 I plate restaurant style because it pleases me to do so, and I've done it so long that my family and friends have come to expect it. But it doesn't make my way right, and somebody else's way wrong. Not by a long shot.

There's a difference, too, between restaurant plating and caterer plating. Take that asparagus, for instance. The reason a chive-wrapped bundle reminds you of every wedding you've been to is because it's a caterer's technique. It allows them to present the food (in this case, asparagus) in a more visually pleasing way, but without having to spend a great deal of time on the technique. Understandable when you have to get several hundred of the same plate out. Again, not a right vs. wrong. If I were serving asparagus to a family or at a dinner party, I'd never bundle it like that. But if I were cooking for a large group I might consider it.

I've said it before, and it bears repeating. There is nothing wrong with a plate-divided-in-three. It might not be the most visually pleasing arrangement. But it's the way most of us eat most of the time.
 
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Dandelions are primary in the fall/winter and are pretty bitter

Interesting, KK. In the Appalachians, dandelions are traditionally used as a spring tonic, as well as a culinary green.
They are, of course, among the first greenery that appears.

One thing about them is that, unlike many greens, which are not heat tolerant, dandelions can be gathered all season long.
 
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I've never known how plate things seperately.  I don't mind my food teaching (roast beef ontop of mashed potatoes for example) and I do tend to plate this way at home.  When I plate each item seperately on the plate it tends to look like a buffet dinner.  Not pretty.
 
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Depending on your target demographic, this isn't a bad thing.  Go to any of the big chain stores such as Chili's, Red Lobster, or Olive Garden.  That's exactly how their plates look -- three different items, sometimes touching, sometimes not (depending mostly on the consistency of the food, how much care the cook put into it, and how sloppy the server was in transporting).  But it isn't "bad", it's simply "normal". 

I think "plating" has a much bigger place in higher end markets.  When the quality of the food requires higher pricing, then you want the dish to be more visually stimulating.  For instance, if you've taken the time to make meat glace and gone through the extra expense, you must charge more.  It's now time to show the customer that you put that level of care into the dish.  If you started off with a boullion cube, no matter what you do visually, it's never going to command the higher price. 

I do like the suggestions on how to make minor changes, but when it comes to trying to make everyday food look like something out of a magazine, I think the point gets lost.
I've never known how plate things seperately.  I don't mind my food teaching (roast beef ontop of mashed potatoes for example) and I do tend to plate this way at home.  When I plate each item seperately on the plate it tends to look like a buffet dinner.  Not pretty.
 
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but when it comes to trying to make everyday food look like something out of a magazine, I think the point gets lost.

I'd say that depends 100% on your personal viewpoint. For me and mine, the visual impact is an important part of the food experience, whether in an upscale restaurant or at home. But part of the reality is that I have the time, as well as the desire, to plate that way. Not everyone does.

I wouldn't say the point gets lost. Rather, that it doesn't matter for most people. Here's a comparison to show what I mean. Let's say you've got guests over; long time friends who don't need to be impressed.

If you plate fancifully, you'll get all sorts of ooohs and ahhhs and comments about how good the food looks. If you plate normally, you won't. But your guests won't be disappointed, either---as long as the food tastes good. So the question is: Is taking the extra step worth the time and energy it requires? There is no right or wrong answer; only personal choice.
 
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Dandelions or also appreciated in France as a salad. Interesting to know they call them "pissenlit" or "dent-de-lion".

Pissenlit refers to the diurethical qualities. If you want to know, pissenlit is composed of three words; the first word you know already + "en" meaning in + "lit" meaning bed.

Dent-de-lion means liontooth.

Early this year I also made -for the first time- what they call honey from dandelion flowers. In french "cramaillote". It's a jelly made with only the yellow flowerleaves. Quite a job and to be honest, a little disappointing in taste; the bitterness dissapears completely and it gets very sweet. Ah well. Somewhere in France there must be a region or town specialized in cramaillote, but I don't remember.

Interesting is that there are a lot of witchcraft inspired recipes going around, saying you should only use 365 flowers (1 per day of the year) when making the stuff...
 
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Just boiled up some dandelions for dinner to serve alongside a simple yellow split pea puree.  I usually boil a big batch on mondays and it lasts us through wednesday at least. 

My favorite part of the monday dandelion boil is a steaming cup of yummy dandelion broth followed by a fresh facial steam.  Once I remove the dandelions from the boiling water I drape a towel over my head and place my face over the steaming pot.  Great for my pores.
 
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