Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Flavor Thesaurus by Niki Segnit

If you love to read about food and cooking, the subtitle "A Compendium of Pairings, Recipes and Ideas for the Creative Cook" should be all the incentive you need to get this book in your hands. Segnit has a really fun, opinionated style. Sometimes she makes me chuckle out loud. I've been dipping in and out of the book for three weeks and now I'm sorry to return it to the library - but other folks are waiting for their turn. Here are a few tasters:

On the pairing of cucumber & mint - "Colder than a couple of contract killers. Add yogurt, also known for its cooling properties, and you have a form of gastronomic air-conditioning [...]"

"In place of parsley's cold-rain flavour, cilantro is more redolent of the monsoon, with hints of warm earthiness and fruity citrus peel."

"If you don't like the resinous flavour of pine nuts in pesto you'll find that walnuts make a fine, and far less opinionated, substitute."

"Raw [parsnip] is rather dispiriting, especially in combination with its fibrous, woody texture, for which you might as well substitute a macrame plant holder. Roasted or mashed, using plenty of fat and salt, parsnip takes on a gorgeous sweet spiciness that can recall coconut or banana."

"Star anise flatters carrot's fresh, woody quality, which is all to the good, as carrot flourishes under a surfeit of praise."

Recipes are in paragraph form, such as this entry under Anise & Rhubarb:
"Take a lead from Mark Miller, one of the great masters of californian cuisine, and add anise seeds to the topping for a rhubarb crumble. Roast and crush the seeds first and stir them in with the sugar. Use 2-3 tsp for a topping made with 1 1/4 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 stick butter. This works for apple and plum crumbles too."

It all makes my mouth water. I'll be getting this book out from the library again.

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