This is the last post in this series discussing some good basic cookbooks. I may at some point post recommendations and reviews of more specific cookbooks, but nothing is planned at the moment in that direction.
THE FLAVOR BIBLE. This is a really awesome compendium of what foods go with which other foods, sort of the gardener’s Carrots Love Tomatoes written for the kitchen. Only VERY extensive. The authors (Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg) rely on chefs from major (and some minor) restaurants around the world (although mostly Western) for analysis. They don’t give you recipes, they simply state that (I am opening a page at random) morel mushrooms go extremely well with asparagus, butter, and/or heavy cream, but also complement bacon, goat and Fontina cheese, caraway seeds, basil, and fava beans. This doesn’t mean you throw everything mentioned here into a pot with each other, but it gives the creative home cook ingredients to consider. For each food mentioned, there may be recommended techniques or tips: in the case of morels, always cook them (no raw morels), and they are best boiled or stewed. The authors also mention something general about taste profiles, and the seasons items are best obtained. Morels: May through June, and their “volume” in a dish is “quiet to moderate”. In other words, they’re not inclined to overpower a dish.
For many of the ingredients, especially ones that are often consider “mains” (but there are exceptions both ways to this), they come up with flavor affinities. There are also listings of what ingredients are appropriate for various cuisines (Mexican, Thai…), which tend to focus on those ingredients that may be more readily available in the USA/Canada.
Examples of flavor affinities:
Halibut + anchovies + black olives.
Halibut + coriander/cilantro + fennel + lemon.
Hallibut + scallions + white wine.
Rosemary + garlic + lamb.
Rosemary + onions + potatoes.
There’s a short section on pairing pastas with sauces, and various other tidbits one can learn from as they read this book. They also break down general items such as rice into Arborio, Basmati, and Wild; and items such as bourbon and Riesling wine are also considered (because you can also cook with them). The idea of all this is to jump start your own personal kitchen creativities, plus it’s handy if you have things in your fridge you’d love to use up, in a flavorful way.
The authors have now published a more recent book, specifically for vegetarians, but vegetarians can certainly make great use of this book.
I can’t begin to count how many ingredients are covered herein. There are some photos, but not extensive. The book is huge already. It won’t be that useful of a book for the dedicated baker, however. Otherwise, highly recommended! I do note you need some of the other books (or of similar style, or just plain experience) than this one, in order so you can walk before you fly.