Friday, October 10, 2008

Small Plates, not Small Taste


There is a new dining experience making its way into restaurants throughout NYC. It is the concept of “small plates”. It is based on appetizer-esque portions, you can mix, match, and taste with each portion costing less than a main course.

Many cultures have been using this dining method for years such as tapas, dim sum, meze from Mediterranean and Japanese izakaya. The chef’s opinion on small plates is that the palate gets fatigued when eating a large main course and the consumer is more satisfied with a variety of flavors. I am the first to say that I love a steak and potato dinner, however this is a great way to try a little of everything while keeping your fork on your own plate.

This concept is one of the easiest to parlay into a successful dinner party. There are a ton of recipes out there for small plate dishes that can be prepared ahead of time and are still delicious. Most of the items could even be pre-plated giving you maximum amount of time with your guests.

Michele Humes of Fine Furious Life came up with an excellent way to make a comfort food into a small but delicious portion. --b

Meatloaf Cupcakes with Mashed Potato Frosting


For the “cupcake”:
1/3 lb. ground veal
1/3 lb. ground chuck
1/3 lb. ground pork
1 small carrot, roughly chopped
1 small onion, roughly diced
2 stalks celery, roughly diced
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
2 eggs
Salt and pepper

For the “frosting”:
7.2oz box instant mashed potatoes
Milk, per package instructions
Butter, per package instructions
Beet juice from canned beets

To garnish:
Green pepper, very finely diced


For the “cupcake”:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk and set aside. Saute the vegetables in olive oil until softened. Transfer to a deep bowl and use an immersion blender to puree; alternatively, puree in food processor. Mix the three meats, eggs, breadcrumbs, parmesan, parsley and vegetable puree in a large bowl until an even consistency is reached. Place meat mixture in greased muffin tins and bake until brown and shrunken away from the sides, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from tin and cool on rack.

For the “frosting”:
Prepare one sachet of instant mashed potatoes according to package instructions. To prepare the other, substitute beet juice from canned beets for the water called for in the instructions. Allow to cool. Transfer each batch of mashed potato into a separate pastry bag (or Ziploc bag with a snipped-off corner) with your favourite pastry tip. Pipe onto cupcakes and decorate with diced green pepper.

Reheat in oven or microwave before serving.

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