As you know, I love cookbooks and this is one of my first non-cookbook reviews that I am super excited to tell you about. Granted, it may not be a cookbook but it is still all about the food: The Vegetarian Flavor Bible.
Does the name sound familiar to you? Karen Page also wrote the classic (original) The Flavor Bible. Both books describe the flavour of various food ingredients including basic preparation methods and tips and then has itemized lists of food pairings. In the The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, she tackles vegetarian combinations.
Sounds weird? Let me explain by example, because truly this is a magnificent compendium for anyone interested in being creative in the kitchen or simply eating good food. Below is a screenshot from the Amazon preview. Whereas The Flavor Bible had 5 pages dedicated to all the beans (notably black beans, cannellini, fava, flageolet, green beans, kidney, lima, navy, pinto, red, white) plus another page for chickpeas, The Vegetarian Flavor Bible has 15 pages for all the beans (in addition to the above, it also includes adzuki beans, anasazi, cranberry/borlotti, fermented black beans, gigante, french green beans, long beans, mung beans, soy beans/edamame) and chickpeas have almost 2 pages now. This is a veritable treasure trove. More common suggestions are capitalized, italicized or bolded.
I also really like the suggested flavour affinities, which are basically mini recipe suggestions. This is what she suggests for black beans:
Obviously, I jumped right into the
meatpotatoes of the book, but there is also nice introduction to the importance of consuming a variety of foods, especially of the plant-based variety. For those new to vegetarianism or veganism, she also has tips on how to craft great meals. Have cravings for meat or fish? She has you covered:
Speaking of capers, if you ever needed proof of her authority in flavour, take note of this. Under capers, her tip: Rinse, or soak for up to 24 hours before using to quiet their flavor. Consider crisping for a minute or two in very hot oil before using them to garnish salads. Um, YES!! That was my latest cooking revelation, too. Crispy capers are marvelous! I need to read through this to uncover more gems.
Lastly, to quote her again: If you master a single recipe, you’ll learn how to cook a single dish. If you master the dynamics of flavor, you can make anything taste better.
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to three readers living in the United States or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite vegetarian ingredient and its flavour affinity (ie., what you like to pair it with). The winner will be selected at random on December 5, 2014. Good luck!