Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Inspiration from the Flavor Bible

Terese Allen, a local food celebrity here in Madison, was interviewed in the Sunday paper about her top three culinary books she recommends.  I immediately requested all three books from the public library but found that everybody else in Madison was interested in them as well, so I'm on the waiting list.  But I also discovered that the authors of one of the books have another book that looked good, Flavor Bible, which I was able to get pretty quickly.  Of course after I got it, I started reading about it on various other blogs. 

Flavor Bible is a compendium of information about what flavors go together and some innovative combos. Some flavors go better together, so they've got a visual key that indicates which pairings are the best. 

At first I was a little bored looking through it, just kind of flipping through it and nothing really interested me.  Meh.  Later I picked it up again and decided that it would be good to aim for something specific, like what to put in my morning oatmeal or smoothie.  My interest in the book started to pick up once I came up with an ingredient and an intention, all sorts of things started popping out at me.  That night I frantically made notes on a subscription card I tore out of a magazine.  I arranged them in order of things that I've got fresh and need to eat, and this is what I came up with.

I was mainly coming up with ideas for my oatmeal, but some also seemed appropriate for smoothies as well, so I marked those with an asterisk *.

Fresh ingredients

This first group are the ingredients I've got fresh and need to use up first.

  • Strawberry, rum extract*
  • Strawberry, chopped almonds (nice, I wish I hadn't used all my almond syrup (for coffee) the previous morning.)
  • Strawberry, 2 tsp fruit balsamic vinegar, and black pepper*

  • grapes, chopped almonds, hazelnut syrup (I didn't have high expectations, but this was surprisingly good!)

  • Apple, dried apricots, cinnamon (fine, but the apricots didn't have much flavor.)
  • Apple, cinnamon, raisins, rum extract (decent, but I don't think I like the taste of rum.  Or it could be that I don't like it as an extract.)
  • Apple, raisin, rum, orange, cinnamon, honey apple butter

  • orange, cinnamon, honey apple butter (this was a lot of work and created a lot of dirty dishes!  rasp to zest the orange, a knife to cut the orange, a spoon for apple butter, etc.  My orange fell apart as I was cutting it, that didn't happen the last time I added orange.  Maybe this was a different variety?  The flavor was ok, a little bitter from the zest so I don't think I'll go to this much trouble again.) 
  • orange, dried apricot

Sweet Potato
  • sweet potato, honey apple butter
  • sweet potato, orange extract

Non-Fresh Ingredients

 The rest of these are other ingredients we either already have (frozen or dried) or I buy fairly often.

  • blackberry* (the flavor was fine but the texture of my smoothie was terrible.  Blackberries have HUGE seeds that are easy to ignore when you eat them as whole fruit, but when they are whizzed up as a puree, the seeds are really gross.  Each mouthful ended up with me spitting out a bunch of seeds into the kitchen sink.  About halfway through I gave up trying to drink it and chugged it so I wouldn't encounter so many seeds.)
  • Banana, date*

Blackberry (I had originally marked these as possible smoothies, but after my experience with the blackberry-banana smoothie, I won'ts!)

  • Blackberry, peach
  • Blackberry, lemon

  • Cherry, almond
  • Cherry, honey vinegar

  • Prunes, orange extract, honey apple butter
  • Prunes, rum, raisins

  • Dates and almonds
  • Dates and chocolate

  • Gingersnap cookies crumbled
  • Molasses
  • Orange
  • Raisins
  • Rum
  • Honey vinegar (nice, but not worth repeating)
  • Hazelnut+raisins

  • Almond
  • Dried apricot
  • Chocolate
  • Dates
  • Honey vinegar & raisins (tasty! quite surprising how nice this was.  I liked the texture of the pear granules in the oatmeal. This is my new favorite oatmeal.)
  • Lemon

  •  Lemon, vanilla
  •  Rum
  •  Chile-mango

  • Cherries
  • Dates
  • Coconut
  • Coffee-infused oats (make coffee and then use it to make oats)

  • Raisin, orange extract, rum
  • Mango, Ginger, rum, coconut
  • Chocolate, hazelnut, chile-mango

I highly recommend checking out this book, it's a great inspiration for thinking of flavors in a new way. I don't know if I'll ever actually buy it, but I think it would be a great reference to have on hand when you get stuck in a food rut and need something to give you fresh ideas. 

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!