Food Presentation: Going Vertical

Today we are going to go into one of the key aspects of cooking—presentation. Do a quick search for “eat with your eyes” and you’ll find the Practical Cook is not a lone voice shouting in the dark on this one. The food can be very simple, but good presentation can be the difference between acceptance and compost. Color and neatness count, of course, but the easiest trick—go vertical.

Recall the last time you went to a nice dinner. Very likely at least one of your dishes was “composed” in some way. Observe, a very simple salad, but tall. It’s a wedge of iceberg lettuce, sprinkled with diced avocado, facon, and a little ranch dressing. (Sidenote: The Practical Cook read a review that said Kraft Ranch was the ranchiest ranch, and purchased some. My kids agree. I’m not a ranch fan, preferring oil-based dressings as a rule, and greatly preferring to make my own, but some battles are not worth waging at this time.)

Wedge Salad Update

Wedge Salad Update

Serving carrot and celery sticks with ranch or hummus? Stick them in a glass, a ramekin, etc., and call them fries.

Carrots and Celery Gone Vertical

Carrots and Celery Gone Vertical

The tallest food the Practical Cook presents goes simply by the name of parfait. Butter—Parfait. (C’mon, you were thinking it.)



The basic ingredients are plain low-fat yogurt, fruit, something crunchy, something sweet. Layer and present in a nice glass. The one seen here is yogurt, blackberries and strawberries, crushed up Trader Joe’s vanilla wafers (I specify, because those things put the “Nilla” variety I grew up with in the shade), and a drizzle of honey.

Parfait Guidelines (because I can’t in good faith call this one a recipe)

The Base: plain low-fat yogurt, plain Greek yogurt (Seriously, read the label on the flavored yogurts. For that much sugar, I’ll take a Krispy Kreme Original Glazed, Hot Now please.)

The Fruit: berries of all kinds, fresh or frozen; bananas; mango; peaches (in season, in the freezer, in a can, it all works); jam, jelly, preserves including apple butter (simply omit the sweet part)

The Crunchy: Grape-Nuts; granola; crunched up gingersnaps, vanilla wafers, graham crackers; other cereal you have small bits left of; chopped toasted nuts

The Sweet: dash of honey, maple syrup, cinnamon

Have your helper help you compose this. They can taste the components as they go. This is the #1 requested snack based on a bath-time poll taken this evening with a random sampling of my children and a margin of error of two. And honestly, the Practical Cook openly admits to making a spare for herself. Parfaits taste good.

Tune in tomorrow for Vegetable Marketing 101. If only cauliflower came with a free prize inside!


1 Comment

Filed under Kitchen Philosophy, Recipes

One response to “Food Presentation: Going Vertical

  1. Pingback: One Ingredient, Three Ways: Cereal Edition | The Practical Cook

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