Garnish Soup with Sour Cream
January 7, 2015 5:06 PM   Subscribe

How do I get a sour cream garnish to look like this, or this, and not this or this?
posted by falsedmitri to Food & Drink (40 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Once you drop it in, run a toothpick through it to draw the lines. (Same goes for cookie frosting, marbling paper, etc.)
posted by Crystalinne at 5:07 PM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


I suspect that it's not a sour cream garnish -- the consistency is too light and smooth. The typical garnish for a soup is heavy cream. It's liquid consistency but heavy/thick enough to not run all over the place, allowing you to draw lines; however, it's also liquidy enough to create nice feathery lines unlike the very clear/rigid lines in your latter examples.

As for the mechanics of doing the drawing, I think Crystalinne has it.
posted by krakus at 5:10 PM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


you could dilute the sour cream with milk.

Most likely it's Crème fraîche though. Which is something very similar to sour cream, but isn't.
posted by royalsong at 5:16 PM on January 7, 2015 [17 favorites]


Yeah, you drop blobs in a circle, then run a toothpick/skewer/chopstick/knife/what-have-you through the drops in a circular motion.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 5:27 PM on January 7, 2015


You will want to thin it out though, sour cream is heavy and unless the soup is also heavy it will sink.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:41 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: I had tried thinning the sour cream with milk and I think that gives the right consistency. However, when I run a knife through it, the soup and sour cream mix instead of having well-defined delineations like in the desired photos. Maybe toothpicks would make a difference. I'll try whole cream as well, though I like the sour in sour cream.
posted by falsedmitri at 5:58 PM on January 7, 2015


also, put your sour cream or creme fraiche mixture in a squeeze bottle. You do this as a low altitude (close to the bowl) squeeze so you put the right amount in the right places. Think of this as making a black and tan when you squeeze the bottle into soup - you don't want to force the mixture deep - you want to float it on the top.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:17 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Response by poster: I will try the squeeze bottle, though I'm afraid of it looking like the soup in the first "not" link. The squiggly line is not attractive.
Didn't know what you meant by black and tan ... now I do.
posted by falsedmitri at 6:34 PM on January 7, 2015


The woman in this YouTube video starts with a spiral like in your first "not" link, but draws a skewer across the spiral a few times, ending up with a more spiderweb-type effect.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 6:41 PM on January 7, 2015


This video is for latté foam, but it's more like the type of design you linked to in your "like this" green soup photo. If you look around YouTube for "latté art" there are lots of crazy pattern how-to videos that could also be done with soup.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 6:56 PM on January 7, 2015


A wood skewer or a toothpick is the way to go. Use thinned sour cream but not too thinned, and yes the squeeze bottle will give you controlled application. Also, this takes practice and some trial and error.
posted by Miko at 6:57 PM on January 7, 2015


Response by poster: In the latté video, s/he has the chopsticks in a little cup with some liquid in it. What is the liquid? That could be important.
posted by falsedmitri at 7:12 PM on January 7, 2015


It's just water, and it's not important.

(FYI, both nanukthedog and I are trained chefs--he has more experience)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:40 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I bet that's creme fraiche or Mexican sour cream. We're pretty much the only country whose sour cream is gelatinous and chunky so far as I know.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:19 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also remember that they may have done a lot of bowls of soup to get the perfect photo.
posted by Jahaza at 6:59 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


are you stirring the thinned sour cream up to make it as smooth as possible before applying with squeeze bottle? And if the cream is much thicker than the soup, then the lines will never look right because the amount of pressure needed to move the soup and cream will be different; you'll get that solid immovable log look. If the soup is fairly thick, and the thinned cream is smooth and not much thicker than the soup, they should play nicely together.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:49 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Jahaza has a great point. I've had to cook stuff a couple times that was going into a photo shoot (promo for the restaurant) and on TV (I don't actually remember what was happening there), and you never make just one--you make several, everything gets photographed, and you keep the best.

If you want to practice this technique in a relatively cheap way, get some cheapass mayonnaise. Set a little aside and mix in some food colouring or cocoa powder--anything with colour really. You can then practice with blobs on a plate (my first stage, that was how chef taught me how to play with sauces and plating; it'll be thicker than a lot of things, but it's very forgiving, and gives you a good basis for more adventurous plating with lighter textures).
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:27 AM on January 8, 2015


Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions. I'l be experimenting.
posted by falsedmitri at 4:03 PM on January 8, 2015


Also might be worth noting, in my experience at least, that 'pull one sauce through another' plating thing hasn't been current for a while and looks kind of dated except on certain pastries.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:48 PM on January 8, 2015


Response by poster: @feckless:
So what is the current fashion?
posted by falsedmitri at 8:28 PM on January 8, 2015


More naturalistic, if that makes sense? What the director of my culinary school would phrase as "food should look like it fell from heaven onto the plate."

Think Pollock, really. The galleries here may provide some plating inspiration. The idea these days seems, to me (and others may well disagree; maybe it's confirmation bias with my taste) to be about stuff that looks good but effortless, not endlessly fussed over, if that makes sense? I am not, repeat not, criticizing you--the garnishes on those soups are pretty!
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:34 PM on January 8, 2015


Response by poster: When you said Think Pollock, my first thought was how this looked like soup garnish. Maybe that's how he started. :) I'm not a chef. This other Pollock must be. Me and Mrs. Dmitri call the plating on some of those dishes "Vertical Food". Those actually look great, not sure how to integrate that style with soup ... maybe some very light things floating on top.
posted by falsedmitri at 5:30 AM on January 9, 2015


Response by poster: So Im making a sweet potato/onion soup tomorrow. Perhaps i could saute a slice of some light colored vegetable or tuber (turnip), float that on the soup, then lay a cilantro twig on that. Any thoughts?
posted by falsedmitri at 9:19 AM on January 9, 2015


Best answer: No, when I said Pollock I meant the one we all know.

Vertical presentation is a thing for sure, but difficult to do with soup ;)

The thing about garnishes that a lot of people (including professionals!) don't get is that they shouldn't be chosen on the basis of what looks good, they need to be an integral part of the dish that happens to look good. That said, cilantro sounds like a lovely accompaniment to your soup.

So for your soup, I have a few ideas--and I'm assuming it's a pureed soup:

- Slice onions very thin and deep fry. No batter, just a little flour. Place a tangle of these on top of the soup--will enhance the onion flavour already there and provide a textural counterpoint

- candy some attractive pieces of sweet potato

- make a chili oil, or maybe ras el-hanout (I have an addiction there, suggest it a lot) by warming spices in oil, then straining through a coffee filter. Or a cilantro oil (herb oils just blend lots of herbs in a blender with oil, then strain)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:01 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: I had never heard of ras al-hanout, thanks for the tip. Ive used berbere a lot. Is it similar?
posted by falsedmitri at 11:31 AM on January 9, 2015


The thing about garnishes that a lot of people (including professionals!) don't get is that they shouldn't be chosen on the basis of what looks good, they need to be an integral part of the dish that happens to look good.

A fellow MeFite, Elsa, expressed this to me once in an AskMe as the difference between "garnish" and "garbage."
posted by Miko at 12:08 PM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: Tried out a couple garnishes today. The cilantro-infused olive oil garnish looks great. Thanks for all the help.
posted by falsedmitri at 4:26 PM on January 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Lovely!
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:31 PM on January 11, 2015


Also sorry, I've never played with berbere.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:31 PM on January 11, 2015


Response by poster: btw, I am not one of "we" and so I don't know who "Pollock" is. If I google on "Chef Pollock" quite a few names come up. Who is the Pollock you are talking about?
posted by falsedmitri at 5:00 PM on January 11, 2015


Jackson Pollock, the artist whose work you linked to.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:18 PM on January 11, 2015


Response by poster: I'm confused. When you said the one we all know, I thought you are talking about a famous chef. Anyway, thanks for all your help.
posted by falsedmitri at 5:21 PM on January 11, 2015


I'm sorry for the confusion; I have never met or known of a chef named Pollock and should have been more clear that I meant the artist.

In any case, your soup with that garnish looks lovely. What's your recipe?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:30 PM on January 11, 2015


Response by poster: Here is the recipe.Try Google translate and if that doesn't work well, let me know and I'll translate.

I made my own changes, of course. I used Garnet sweet potatoes. I used more garlic than called for, 'cause Yay garlic. And used cilantro instead of hierbabuena. Also, for the diary component, one can choose cream (as the recipe calls for), or 1/2 & 1/2, or milk depending on creaminess desired or health concerns.
posted by falsedmitri at 6:18 PM on January 11, 2015


Response by poster: I've tried a number of variations, see here

http://imgur.com/a/gYRnW
posted by falsedmitri at 5:01 PM on January 20, 2015


The fourth one is the most successful, to my eye--there's a good pop of colour.

You might want to try intensifying the colour of your oil, probably by upping the amount of herb in it. If I were serving that I'd probably garnish with both the fried sweet potato and the cotija tossed with fresh cilantro, and a splash of the cilantro oil.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:22 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: The texture of the crispy sauteed sweet potato was great, but i didnt like the lack of contrast with the soup.

Tossing the cotija ... do you mean to chop cilantro finely so as to speclkle the cotija slice with cilantro flakes? Great idea.
posted by falsedmitri at 12:52 PM on January 21, 2015


Response by poster: Just tried that last idea, definitely stands out (posted to same url as before)
posted by falsedmitri at 5:15 PM on January 22, 2015


Yes! Now do that, with a tangle of fried sweet potato, and crumble the cotija with cilantro (pick leaves off the stems, don't chop, and mix with your fingers with the crumbled cheese) and you're going to have something to wow your guests.

It's difficult to talk about plating in text, I'm sorry for not being able to convey properly.

Something worth looking at is squeezing your squeeze bottle as little as possible. Again, we go back to Pollock--he had a control over his spattering that is very much worth trying to emulate.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:39 PM on January 22, 2015


Response by poster: I'm out of soup :) I'll have to make some more.

Fwiw, I don't have a squeeze bottle, I have this glass cruet

Again, thanks for all the help.
posted by falsedmitri at 2:31 AM on January 23, 2015


« Older Having Trouble Getting Access to Blood Test...   |   The "visual onomatopoeia" for words like sizzling... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.