As Fine Cooking’s food stylist, it’s my job on photo shoots to make our recipes look as good as they taste. When I’m not on set, I put the same effort into the food I make for myself and my friends and family—after all, we eat first with our eyes. When food looks appealing, it invites you to take a bite, and it tastes better, too. That’s why I love verrines.
Meaning “glasses” or “jars” in French, verrines combine colors, flavors, and textures in alluring layers. They can be savory or sweet, elaborate or simple. What they have in common are tiers of bright, finely diced fruits and cheeses, lively greens, luscious custards, and colorful gelatins that look beautiful and invite you to dig right in. And dig into a verrine you should: If you go deep enough to get a bit of each layer, you can taste every ingredient in one bite, making verrines as exciting to eat as they are to look at.
The first step is choosing your glassware. The food stylist in me has great fun with this. The glasses can be sleek and modern, or mismatched and quirky, but the prime consideration should always be how easy it will be to get your spoon all the way to the bottom. The recipes here call for 8- to 10-oz. glasses so that the food doesn’t fill the glass to the top. Feel free to go even bigger, for a dramatic look. It’s also best to use glasses that are fairly wide and have flat or only slightly tapered bottoms.
A variety of flavors and textures is key. Verrines should have elements that are creamy or custardy, crunchy or crisp, and juicy and fresh. That makes them interesting to eat. I also try to keep color in mind with beautifully vivid fruits and vegetables contrasting and complementing each other in looks and flavors.
The order of the layers is also important. I start by putting the richer or sturdier components like flavored oil, gelatin, or custard, at the bottom. Next I might layer on a bit of crunch, like cookie crumbles, or I might add juicy diced fruit or tomatoes. Anything crunchy or delicate, like Orange Tuiles, Rosemary Grissini, Poppyseed Shortbread, or microgreens, goes on top.
Verrines are perfect for picnics, too. Use pint-size mason jars instead of glasses, seal them tightly, and transport them in a cooler (gelatins and dairy products need to stay chilled). Any fruits and vegetables will release their juices, making the verrines look wetter and the layers less defined the longer they sit. But don’t worry—they’ll still taste just as good. Be sure to pack garnishes separately and add them just before you eat.
With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to make gorgeous, tasty verrines that are a pleasure to eat and beautiful to behold—a food stylist’s dream.
Get the recipes: