Sphereical Food

August 19, 2009


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.


  1. Well I think you should pat yourself on the back. That platter looks worth diving into. Nice job.

    Comment by Chef Gwen — August 20, 2009 @ 12:06 am

  2. so pretty, i love the 3 sections on your pretty plate. AND I’m sure they all tasted fabulous!

    Comment by Sprouted Kitchen — August 20, 2009 @ 4:02 pm

  3. I’m the same – I can make things taste good but I’m not great at making them look good. I just go for the homemade/homestyle look haha. Though this platter you’ve put together looks amazing! The tomatoes do sound rather aggravating but at least they tasted good so your effort wasn’t wasted.

    Comment by Ashley — August 20, 2009 @ 8:56 pm

  4. I know what you mean about not wanting to drive all over town. Luckily, you are such an amazing cook that you can make anything look and taste beautiful.

    I’m remembering now when I first read about those rice balls on your blog. I want to try them.

    Comment by The Leftoverist — August 21, 2009 @ 6:28 am

  5. You know, this is the perfect platter for entertaining both old and young alike. For the adults, these are the ideal little nibbles alongside a beverage, and for the children, well what kid can resist “spherical food?”

    I applaud your tomato-peeling efforts. I haven’t the commitment for that.

    Comment by tara — August 21, 2009 @ 6:20 pm

  6. I know what you mean about putting more emphasis on flavor than presentation, but I reached a point when I had to do something about it (especially when people pay a lot of money to cater for their party). I’m still learning but am enjoying it more, it brings out the playfulness in me, and I don’t resist it as I used to.

    Comment by Nurit - 1 family. friendly. food. — September 2, 2009 @ 5:46 am

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