My Recipe Box

Verrines: Splendor in the Glass

Food stylist Ronne Day creates beautiful, mouthwatering verrines that are perfect for summer entertaining.

by Ronne Day

fromFine Cooking
Issue 130

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:

Watermelon, Cucumber, and Feta Verrines 
Lemon Custard, Blueberry, and Shortbread Verrines 
Mango and Melon Verrines 
Heirloom Tomato, Burrata, and Basil Verrines

 

Anatomy of a Verrine
verrine recipes A dense, sturdy layer, like diced pears, on the bottom makes the verrine feel substantial. Crunchy ingredients like cucumbers create separation between soft layers. A salty layer, like feta cheese, is a good way to break up sweet elements. A brightly colored layer, such as watermelon right in the middle, draws the eye. delicate microgreens Leave room at the top of the glass so that people can take a scoop without spilling garnishes.
Because each component in a verrine serves a purpose, the order in which they’re layered matters, too. Hit the slider to see how each component contributes to the dish. A dense, sturdy layer, like diced pears, on the bottom makes the verrine feel substantial. Crunchy ingredients like cucumbers create separation between soft layers. A salty layer, like feta cheese, is a good way to break up sweet elements. A brightly colored layer, such as watermelon right in the middle, draws the eye. Delicate microgreens and other garnishes should go on top so that they don't get bruised. Leave room at the top of the glass so that people can take a scoop without spilling garnishes.

Photos: Scott Phillips

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