Most home cooks learn how to cook by following recipes. A cookery book, or cookbook, is one that often contains recipes and instructions for cooking. It’s a book you can refer to for authoritative facts on a variety of topics, including cooking techniques, recipes and commentary from famous chefs, and cultural commentary. We rely on recipes because they’re accessible and sometimes easy to follow. Although convenient to follow a recipe, I enjoy learning the what and how—the culinary techniques and kitchen tools used and how best to combine ingredients to coax the greatest possible flavor.
Some liken following recipes to driving a car and wanting to get to a destination. The only way for you to arrive at your destination is by following the driver in the car in front of you. When that driver makes a right, so do you. When that driver makes a left, so do you. When that driver goes through a green light, but your light turns yellow, you get stressed and might even panic and do whatever it takes to catch up to panic and rush to catch up. Eventually, you end up reaching your destination, but you may not be sure how you arrived. It’s not always an enjoyable way to drive, uh cook.
Besides reaching the final dish, I find it’s also nice to understand how recipes work–the techniques and nuances are just as interesting. Most cookbooks don’t go into depth on the techniques—not everyone cares to know the details. Instead they try to help you get from one point to another as quickly as possible. The destination is the final dish. What’s exciting is learning how to make the dish, the recipe your own.
I have quite a few cookery books at home. I can imagine you do too. I’ve decided to start a new section on the blog to share a few of my favorites, which you may enjoy too. Of all the many books I have, the one I seem to reference the most often is The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, cited as two of a dozen “international culinary luminaries”. It’s an essential guide to culinary creativity and hundreds of ingredients including herbs, spices and other seasonings that inspire the greatest creations of innovative cooks and chefs. I find it to be an indispensable guide in my kitchen.
From inside the flap:
You’ll learn to:
- explore the individual roles played by the four basic tastes — salty, sour, bitter, and sweet — and how to bring them into harmony
- work more intuitively and effectively with ingredients by discovering which flavors have the strongest affinities for one another
- brighten flavors through the use of acids — from vinegars to citrus juices to herbs and spices such as kaffir lime and sumac;
- deepen or intensify flavors through the layering of specific ingredients and techniques;
- and balance the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of cooking and serving an extraordinary meal.
Seasoned with tips, anecdotes, and signature dishes from the country’s most respected chefs and pastry chefs, THE FLAVOR BIBLE is an essential book for every kitchen library.