"In situ" is a Latin phrase which translates to 'In position'. I am using this term to describe the style of plating that mimics the natural form of food as it occurs in nature. It is an artistic style in which the food looks as if it had fallen from the heavans and landed on the plate in the most perfect and natural way. Or as if it had sprung up from the ground in the most natural and beautiful way.
so there are a few guidelines to be followed, sort of.
1. Place the components down in random positions but not in a deliberate randomness.
2. It's ok even preferable for things to be upside down. Notice in the picture above that the flower at the top left is in fact stem up.
3. no two items should be in the same position or in a symmetrical position.
4. Remeber the rule of thirds. like in Bonsai styling the asymmetry of thirds is more pleasing to the eye and appears more natural. The same goes with odd numbers. Though one is small and tucked away there are five chamomile flowers, three sunflower pedals and so on.
5. Try to rethink the components, this is a recipe and plate design rule more than a plating rule but it is related. We'll touch on this more when we talk about plate design.
Lastly have fun and practice.
Here's the above plate step by step.
For the Pea Puree
take a bunch of sweet peas and puree them in a blender add a touch of olive oil and salt to make a puree the thickness of BBQ sauce.
For the Beets
Trim and clean a beet and cut into wedges. in a hot pan lay down a bit of olive oil and place the beets down to sear. after a few minutes turn them over then reduce the heat. Add about a shot of sweet sherry and cover. reduce the heat and allow to cook until just tender, upon removal sprinkle with salt.
Add some farm fresh tomatoes cut into wedges or in half depending on the size. None of the tomatoes I used were larger than a walnut. again these are placed to prop the greens against.
Notice that the stems are in all directions. Do your best to try and stand them up so they are high and provide some areas to tuck the remaining ingredients. We'll add more greens in a minute so the plate doesn't look so thin. Notice also that I am not covering the middle of the plate, The intention is for the greens and other veg to act like a frame for the puree and yolk.
Now we add the squashes. these are carmelized on one side so they are dark and a little crunchy.
For the Squash
Cut a couple rounds of baby squash and cut it in half. Heat a pan with olive oil, and place the squash cut side down and let them sear then pull them out and turn them seared side up to allow the seared area to harden a bit. sprinkle with salt.
Now we add the final garnishes, some blanched pea pods, herbs of various types, and flowers. All are edible of course. and the croutons.
For the croutons
Get a good loaf of bread, quality stuff not the thaw and bake junk from the grocery store. Pull the crusty outer layer off and gently pull the bread innards into bite sized irregularly shaped pieces. Try not to squish the pieces, you'll have to use a gentle touch.
on a very low heat pour in a bit of walnut oil, and toss the bread in it. sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until very dry and a little brown.
Finally add the egg yolk in the center of the plate.
For the yolk
place a cup of butter and a cup of olive oil in a pot and bring it to 145 F - 150 F (64 C). turn off the heat and place a very clean egg yolk in the oil allow it to sit and warm through, about 5 minutes. Gently remove the egg with a spoon and pour off some of the fat and drop the egg into the center of the plate.