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Menu Development for Healthy Cooking

Menu Development for Healthy Cooking

Culinary Institute of America

Salads are also served as appetizers. You may prefer to change the portion size, substitute a different sauce or garnish to give your menu items a special look, vary it from season to season, or showcase a range of flavors and textures from other cuisines. Warm and hot appetizers may include small portions of grains or even breads. Broiled or grilled fish, shellfish, or poultry may be featured. Crêpes, blinis, and other similar dishes have been popular in many different cuisines. Meatballs and other highly seasoned ground meat appetizers are also found on today’s menus. Swedish meatballs share space in the garde manger’s repertoire with kefta (spicy kebobs made from ground lamb).

Vegetables are more important than ever as appetizers. Sometimes they are presented very simply; for example, steamed artichokes may be served with a dipping sauce such as a flavored vinaigrette, chilled asparagus may be served drizzled with a flavored oil, or a plate of grilled vegetables may be accompanied by a cold tomato sauce.

Principles for Presenting Appetizers

Keep in mind the following basic principles as you select, prepare, and plate appetizers:
-Serve all appetizers at the proper temperature. Remember to chill or warm plates.
-Season all appetizer items with meticulous care. Appetizers are meant to stimulate the appetite, so seasoning is of the utmost importance.
-Slice, shape, and portion appetizers properly. There should be just enough of any given item to make the appetizer interesting and appealing from start to finish, but not so much on the plate that the guest is overwhelmed.
-Neatness always counts, but especially with appetizers. Your guests will most likely judge their entire meal based on the impression the appetizer gives.
-When offering shared appetizers, consider how they will look when they come to the table. It may be more effective to split a shared plate in the kitchen, rather than expecting the guests to divide it up themselves.
-Color, shape, and “white space” play a role in the overall composition of your plate. Take the time to choose the right size and shape serving pieces and to provide the guest with all the items necessary for the appetizer, including cups for dipping sauces, special utensils, and, if necessary, finger bowls.

Knowing Your Customers

The menu you develop will depend in large part on your market. Are your customers looking to grab a quick sandwich, to impress a date or a client, or to recover from surgery so they can go home? An establishment that caters to executives on expense accounts has a different clientele, with substantially different needs and expectations, than a high-school cafeteria.