Sunday, December 7, 2008

Review: The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide To Culinary Creativity, Based On The Wisdon Of America's Most Imaginative Chefs

Rating: 4/5
Grade: A-All ages

(This book was generously provided for my review by Anna with Hatchette Book Group .)

This book is not your usual recipe book. In fact, there are not any recipes in the book. The book, instead, explains the components of taste: Flavor = Taste + Mouthfeel + Aroma + "The X Factor". The first chapters explain these terms, and how the great cook uses them together also remembering the pleasures we get through body, mind, heart, and spirit, to get succulent results.

About recipes the book says:

Slavish followers of recipes, who treat them as gospel instead of guidelines, make the mistake of putting more faith in someone else's instructions than they do in themselves. Many people would do better in the kitchen if the didn't blindly follow recipes. In fact, following recipes may be holding you back from achieving you potential as a cook."

After the introduction and first few chapters, the body of the book is a list of ingredients, and the foods and spices that have flavors which complement this food. As well, as the foods season, best cooking methods, incompatible flavors, etc. The cook then uses these guidelines and their imagination to create new and creative dishes.

Since I have a hard time getting consistent results from recipes, and tend to rely too much on recipes, as the book warned against; I decided to give this a try:

Sweet potatoes was the ingredient I chose. Flipping to the section on sweet potatoes, I looked for compatible foods that I had on hand, and found apples and cranberries. I decided to simmer/steam them on the stove top in a small amount of Olive Oil

I then consulted the book for herbs/spices that were compatible and that I had on hand. The seasonings I chose were: allspice, and tarragon. I added these along with some salt and pepper,
and drizzled honey over it for sweetness. This simmered on low until the apples and potatoes were tender.

And here is the finished result. It wasn't so bad. And from this I learned some things: 1. apples and cranberries are both tart, and made the dish too sour, next time I will use one or the other; 2. don't add the cranberries until the sweet potatoes and apples are starting to get tender, because they turned to mush; 3. If I had used only enough ingredients to cover the bottom of the pan, there would have been less stirring and less mashing of food, and then all of it would have had the lovely caramelizing on the bottom.


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