The Flavor Bible

You must think I’m crazy. Figs and cilantro? It’s true. We made a very unscientific study of the pairing last night at dinner, and it is absolutely true. I don’t have a picture to show because, well, it wasn’t much to look at. My fig-stuffed chicken breasts fell apart in the cutting process due to my overzealous stuffing, but it was delicious. I cooked it in a pan with a creamy tomato sauce and threw on some cilantro at the end. The very best part was getting a bite of tender fig with a sprig of cilantro.
This is one of the “flavor affinities” found in my new favorite cookbook. Although it’s not so much a cookbook as an index. You just look up an ingredient and it lists all the foods that harmonize with that ingredient, including flavor trios like the one pictured above. The ideas found in the book have been based on the work of some of the most innovative chefs around, so while you see the classic combinations listed, there are also more challenging and interesting ideas.
For example, lets look at the flavor affinities for scallops. Scallops + almonds + cauliflower. Scallops + apples + tarragon. Scallops + basil + grapefruit. Scallops + bay leaf + vanilla. Scallops + fennel + orange + rosemary. Drooling yet? There are lots more. Beside that, there are tips from chefs and some of the dishes they serve. Like Maine Diver Scallops Grilled with Ruby Grapefruit, Spring Potatoes, and Basil (from Daniel Humm of the restaurant Eleven Madison Park in NYC).

It’s incredibly inspiring. Ryan and I love to cook together, but neither one of us is very interested in recipes. We just want the idea behind the dish. It’s good to know that when you deglaze a steak pan with bourbon and drizzle it over the meat, it’s exquisite. Or that if you mix basil and lemon with gin, it’s heavenly. I highly, highly recommend this book.
The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. Buy it on Amazon:

5 responses to “The Flavor Bible”

  1. wife of an artist

    I am ordering this book right now.

  2. serena

    thrilling! been thinking a lot about the ‘principles’ of cooking. I can’t remember recipes! but I can remember flavor combos and the WHY of a dish. have plans. will chatty soon.

  3. pam

    I love this book too!

  4. pickles

    Oh, how inspiring! I think I´ll just have to get it…

  5. Mai

    wow! as a foodie, i think i’m missing this in my collection!!!

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