|"The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity..."|
This is the book that heightened my food-ingredient consciousness, amplified my kitchen courage, and ended my dependence on cookbooks. The Flavor Bible, by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, goes considerably beyond a culinary guide--it ascends into the domain of indispensable reference. This book does more than list flavor affinities, it captures the authors' meta-perceptiveness of food flavors, textures, and techniques.
In this book, the authors also curate the reflections of influential American chefs. For example, in the "Flavor Matchmaking" section on carrots, Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern in New York City shares how he entices smoky flavor and creamy texture from "Thumbelina" carrots. These reflections and anecdotes appear throughout the book at just the place where you will happen upon them when you're looking for (or needing) inspiration.
In the chapter that precedes the "Flavor Matchmaking" section of the book, Page and Dornenburg describe flavor "from the inside out". This all-important chapter coaxes cooks to learn "to recognize the language of food" and to "bring the four tastes: sweet, salty, sour, and bitter...into balanced harmony to create deliciousness" (page 1). Reading this chapter is helpful for understanding the Flavor Matchmaking Charts, which comprise most of the book.
Here's how The Flavor Bible helped me to create one of the most popular recipes on my blog:
|Black-eyed Peas & Polenta with Minced Collards|
I've cooked black-eyed peas for more than 20 years, but when I wanted to make a more exotic dish, I turned to The Flavor Bible to help me achieve my culinary goal. I consulted the Flavor Matchmaking section for black-eyed peas. In bold capital letters are the words GREENS and HAM HOCKS, which signals popular, tried-and-true flavor affinities for black-eyed peas. I also saw that turmeric and carrots were among the ingredients that offered a flavor affinity for black-eyed peas as well. I added these ingredients to my peas and created a new dish. (Click here for the recipe.)
Besides flavor affinities, the authors helped me to understand season, weight and volume as an important factor for meal planning. Shrimp that I grill and place atop a light, fresh salad in July will be simmered in November for gumbo because then I will crave food with more weight. I'm learning that certain foods which are light in volume (fish, tofu, shrimp) are best matched with lighter ingredients and cooking techniques. The Flavor Bible is my invaluable reference for finding flavors (and wines) that match. I still use cookbooks, but I'm not tethered to them as I once was--thanks to The Flavor Bible.
I'm excited to give away a new copy of The Flavor Bible to one of my readers. Log into Rafflecopter and follow the prompts. The winner will be notified online on Saturday, July 14, 2012 and announced on this blog on Sunday, July 15, 2012. Good luck!