See that yummy ice cream on the right? Looks good, huh? I’ll tell you what it is and even give you a vague recipe, but first, sit up straight and listen. I was just getting ready to write a post about a website that I absolutely love when a book called The Flavor Bible landed in my mailbox. Now, I’ve got TWO “musts” to turn you on to, so light a candle and lets go…
The zen of food, for me, is born out of creativity and imagination. While recipes serve as a great starting block, for those of us that relish preparing food, the kitchen is a place of transformation—where flour, yeast and honey become bread; where tomatoes, basil and garlic become a marinara; where eggs, cream and day old bread become bread pudding. But it is also a place where WE, as cooks, can be transformed. When you get in that creative “zone”, crafting the meal is cathartic…hell, in my house it’s psychotherapy! So what I want, more than anything else, is something that will serve as a map in the kitchen more so than an actual guide. I want something that inspires. Apparently, what I wanted was The Flavor Bible. Written by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg (What to Drink with What You Eat and Culinary Artistry), this book doesn’t have a single recipe in it. Instead, it alphabetically references thousands of culinary ingredients (including liquors like scotch and rum) and lists flavor combinations that will serve as idea starters. Just choose an ingredient, cuisine, technique or season, and you’ll find lists of complementary ingredients that will rank as “ethereal, highly recommended, and frequently recommended” as well as those you should avoid at all costs! If you have someone in your life whose soul belongs in a kitchen, THIS is what you have to get him/her for the holidays. Put the silly kitchen gadgets down and STEP AWAY. We will NEVER use them, except when you come to visit!
My second push goes hand-in-hand with The Flavor Bible, and it’s free (but not nearly as encompassing). If you look at my “Feed Your Head” links on the right, you’ll see one called Food Pairing Science. If you haven’t yet clicked on it and visited the site I will forgive you this once…ONCE. This ingenious site not only offers flavor pairings but it also goes one very scientific step further and shows you how to recreate a flavor if you don’t have the actual ingredient! Want to simulate the flavor of fresh basil but don’t have any on hand cuz it’s the middle of December? According to the site, you can use mint, tarragon, all spice, cinnamon and lavender to fool your senses into thinking you’ve used basil. No, I am not on hallucinogens. Please go peruse the website and let it inspire you. No thanks necessary.
As for the ice cream above, it was inspired by the book. After looking up carrots (a pretty common kitchen ingredient) I decided to make Carrot-Orange Ice Cream with Caramelized Ginger and Maple Syrup. I threw in a few roasted hazelnuts at the last minute, just because. Brother was it good! I’ve included the recipe here, but I gotta say that I was tempted not to, simply because I don’t want you to duplicate my inspiration—I want you to search for your own. Happy trails.