Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook
Shower your loved one with a snazzy idea of French origin-perfect for Valentine Day. How about a verrine? This word comes from verre, or glass in French, and indeed, that’s the idea: rather than serving small bites or a dessert on a plate or bowl, it’s served in a glass-preferably a clear glass. Using a special clear glass is the idea for a single portion and that’s where the fun begins. The type of glass you choose determines the layering and the amount (or volume) of the dish. An elegant goblet says elegance while a flared ‘rocks’ glass may be more comfortable yet still special while giving the food an element of surprise.
We have a savory verrine and a dessert one for our “little bites” menu-no need to over indulge with large portions, but just enough bursts of vibrant flavor to excite. When the components are prepared in advance, the verrines come together toute de suite (a French expression meaning right away).
Roses are the signature flower for Valentine Day and Homestead Gardens has show-stopping bouquets as well as Kordana Rose plants (as I’ve shown here) which can grace your outdoor garden in the spring.
Chevre, Bacon, Tomato and Greens Verrine
Initially the prepped ingredients are divided in half…one for each verrine. Don’t worry about the amount of fresh spinach as it shrinks way down and there is just one layer per verrine.
- 2 slices applewood smoked bacon (nitrate free)
- 4 cups fresh baby spinach
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 medium tomatoes or 16 mini tomatoes, caramelized (from our recipe)
- 3 ounces fresh goat chevre (choose a creamy type), softened
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 whole roasted yellow bell pepper, drained and blotted dry
Chop the bacon and in a medium skillet, fry until crispy. Remove to drain on a paper towel and retain about 1 tablespoon bacon drippings. Add the spinach and saute until just wilted. Remove and finely chop; add Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Reserve bacon and spinach.
Add the softened chevre to a small cup. Stir in milk and combine until smooth.
Layer per glass
Place the tomatoes on the bottom of the glass, a good amont of chevre, spinach, bacon, roasted yellow bell pepper, another tomato layer, a dollop of chevre on top, sprinkle with a few more bits of bacon.
Strawberry Fudge Coconut Cream Verrine
Makes 2 verrines
In the photo above, I’ve shown the products I used for the dessert verrines. The Labne is a Lebanese style cheese made from draining very thick yogurt. This product is available at Whole Foods, Annapolis. The incredibly crunchy roasted coconut chips are available at Trader Joes. I have gone through quite a few bags as they are irresistible!
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- Coconut Cream:
- 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
- 2 tablespoons coconut milk
- 1/2 cup very thick plain Greek yogurt or Labne
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened roasted coconut flakes
- 1 cup medium size strawberries, sliced except for 2 for garnish
In a small microwave-safe bowl, place the chopped chocolate and heavy cream. Microwave, 30 seconds at a time until melted. Do not over stir. Keep warm while layering verrines as it will firm up when chilled.
For the coconut cream place the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until combined.
To Assemble: In each verrine glass, layer first the sliced strawberries, coconut cream, roasted coconut, chocolate, strawberries, more coconut cream and a final large dab of chocolate to top it off. Sprinkle with more roasted coconut. Crown with a whole strawberry.