Fast Finishing Touches for Food

It's all in the food presentation: These simple finishing touches can transform basic dishes into something special.

1. Stockpile your stand-bys.

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Keep a box of canape cups in the pantry for unexpected visitors. Add a dollop of pesto, or any kind of dip, and half a cherry tomato for instant party food.

2. Drizzle on olive oil.

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Whether it's over fresh bread or a plated meal, olive oil adds a golden color and rich, additional flavor.

3. Snip on fresh herbs.

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If there are herbs in the dish, reserve a small quantity to finish the dish off before it hits the table.

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4. Let guests dress themselves.

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Rather than making a salad dressing, put olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the table as condiments and let everyone feel like they're participating in the final dish.

5. Buffet-style feels big.

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Depending on the type of dish you're preparing, you can serve food up on large platters for people to help themselves at the table, rather than plating up individually.

6. Don't underestimate the sandwich!

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Mix chopped cooked chicken with chopped herbs and a dollop of good-quality mayonnaise. Spread onto sliced bread, cut off the crusts, then cut into fingers and serve with sparkling wine.

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7. Toss the containers.

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Worth remembering: Humble antipasto ingredients from the deli counter or supermarket aisle get elevated when piled onto a large white platter, with crusty bread on the side.

8. Crisp up your crust.

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A baguette from the freezer can be thawed at room temperature, then refreshed by briefly splashing it under cold running water, then popped in the oven to toast up while dinner cooks.

9. Dress up dessert.

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Jazz up a bought frozen cheesecake by topping it with fresh seasonal fruit.

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10. Dust with sugar.

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Scoop confectioners' sugar into a small sieve and powder it over a dessert or pudding.

11. Go dark with chocolate.

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Indulge chocoholics by using a dusting of dark cocoa powder on top of chocolate desserts.

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