My strength as a cook – and as a baker – has always been taste. Not presentation. I am good at making things that taste good but not as good at making them look good. I can put together interesting menus from a variety of sources and I can time things so a meal comes out all at once, but I am not a master of making things look as appetizing as they sometimes are.
I am getting better though just through sheer practice. Sometimes I have a vision about how I want something to look and it comes out just right. Those are good moments.
I have this large platter and as I was planning the menu for our summer party, I thought it would look great with several similarly sized and shaped food. I knew I wanted to make the Oven-Fried Rice Balls that I made for John and Lauren’s party back in May. I saw a recipe for vodka marinated cherry tomatoes so then it was just a matter finding a third small ball shaped food. Marinated mozzarella was a natural choice. I wish that I could have found slightly larger balls of mozzarella – the size between these itty bitty ones and the large fist-sized balls, but I was not in a position to start driving all over town to find them.
I was happy with how this looked and how everything tasted. The tomatoes were a fairly large pain in the neck as they had to be stemmed, blanched in small batches, and then peeled. As I was peeling them, I decided that they were not worth the effort. Tasting them the next day and seeing them vanish from the platter may have almost changed my mind. But not quite.
One Year Ago: Black Bean Salad with Corn and Cotija Cheese
Bocconcini (Marinated Mozzarella)
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking
Makes 6-8 appetizer servings
I doubled this recipe for my party but kept the olive oil about the same.
1 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
12 black peppercorns
3 large sprigs fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp. salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes
12 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into 1-inch cubes, or bought in small balls
Place olive oil in a medium skillet and warm over medium heat. Add the garlic, peppercorns, rosemary, salt, and red pepper flakes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Remove the rosemary sprigs.
Place the mozzarella in a medium bowl and pour the oil over. Let stand at room temperature for several hours or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.