The Flavor Bible + Giveaway Winners

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Chances are if you are a food blogger, avid home cook, or chef you might have already heard of, or even own, The Flavor Bible. I bought this book last year and I’ve been meaning to write about it for a while. I really didn’t intend for this week to be a book review week, but sometimes that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. :)

The Flavor Bible, described as “the essential guide to culinary creativity”, profiles ingredients and the corresponding herbs, spices, seasonings, etc. that pair well with each of these ingredients. As someone who has grown to love recipe creation, this book is a resource tool that I turn to when I’m looking for a nudge in the right direction. When I have an ingredient in mind that I’d like to cook with, I often look to this book for suggestions of other “compatible” ingredients that I can include in the dish.

Each ingredient details things such as peak growing season(s), botanical relatives, taste (sweet, sour, salty, bitter), the function (cooling, warming, etc), weight (is it heavy, moderate, or light feeling?), volume (is the flavor quiet, moderate, or loud?), cooking techniques, tips, and incompatible flavors to avoid. All of these are described in greater detail at the beginning of the book.

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Below each main ingredient you’ll see a list (often 1/2-1 page in length) of all of the ingredients that the experts/chefs believe the food pairs well with. Bold caps indicate the most agreement among chefs. For example, carrots are said to pair exceptionally well with butter, ginger, lemon, maple syrup, orange, parsley, and sugar. Other ingredients that are said to pair well with carrots include cinnamon, coriander, dill, lime, spearmint, olive oil, parsnips, salt, tarragon, thyme, etc.

The Flavor Bible also provides specific flavor affinities or suggested pairings for many ingredients, such as:

  • carrots + cilantro + lime
  • carrots + cumin + orange
  • carrots + maple syrup + orange
  • carrots + pistachios + turnips
  • etc…

 

I’ve found some of the flavor affinities in this book to be quite obvious (such as tomato + basil + mozzarella), but many seem new and exciting (cinnamon + lemon + tomatoes). These flavor affinities can provide the basis or starting point for recipe creation. Just looking at the carrots + cilantro + lime combo, I immediately think of a fun take on coleslaw or a salad. For the carrots + maple syrup + orange I start to dream about carrot cupcakes with orange frosting. I love that just a few ingredients can get the creativity flowing, especially during those times when my creative spark feels zapped.

Aside from suggested pairings, there are also quotes from popular chefs about their favourite way to prepare or serve that particular ingredient. Here are a couple quotes I pulled from the book:

On Scotch:

“The combination of ginger and scotch is explosive! I think the combination of ginger and lemon is such a welcoming flavor and can take on almost any spirit. Ginger itself is one of the most compelling scents and flavors in the world. Nothing else comes close.” ~Jerri Banks, Cocktail Consultant (New York City)

On Sourness:

“Almost every dish has to have some sort of acid, or else it will taste flat. It is a question of taste – some chefs like sour, some like sweet – and there is no right or wrong. Lemon juice is used in small amounts to bring out the flavors. I use all kinds of vinegars – banyuls, red wine, rice wine, and sherry, just to name a few.” ~ David Waltuck, Chanterelle (New York City)

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To be clear, this is certainly not a vegan or vegetarian book. Not even close. You will find a large amount of meat, fish, and dairy ingredients detailed throughout the book (with some photographs), but that isn’t surprising to me given it’s an all-purpose culinary reference. I skip over the ingredients that don’t apply to me, but I would obviously love to see a vegetarian or vegan version of The Flavor Bible or similar book in the future. This would allow the authors to explore even more commonly used ingredients in veg cuisine. There have been a few ingredients that I looked up and couldn’t find in the book, so while it does provide a nice starting point for common ingredients it certainly doesn’t include everything I cook with.

If you like to experiment with creating your own recipes, this book is worth checking out. My advice is to check it out at your local bookstore or library in person to see if it will be a good fit in your own kitchen!

Do you enjoy cooking and recipe development? Have you found this book, or any others, to be useful tools along the way?

UnDiet Giveaway Winners!

Thank you to everyone who entered the UnDiet giveaway! Without further ado, the winners are…

bookwinner   The Flavor Bible + Giveaway Winners coursewinner   The Flavor Bible + Giveaway Winners

1 copy of UnDiet goes to #394 – Carol E. “I’ve followed you on Facebook for ages, but I just started following you on Pinterest.”

And the winner of Meghan’s online course UnDiet Meal Prep Made Easy goes to #1512 – Jackie P. “This book looks amazing!!”

Congrats to you both! I will email you shortly to collect your information.

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{ 64 comments… read them below or add one }

Liz April 4, 2013

What a lovely giveaway! Enjoy ladies!!

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Sarah @ Yogi in Action April 4, 2013

I’ve never heard of the Flavour Bible- but I can definitely see it’s uses. I might just have to pick a copy up for myself. Thanks for the review on it!

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Seraphina April 4, 2013

I spot Ottolenghi’s Plenty in the background! Out of curiosity, how do you find the book, as a vegan? From what I have seen of his cafes in London, he uses quite a lot of diary products (to good effect, except I’m lactose sensitive, bugger). Thinking of buying it and cooking my way through the book (:

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Angela (Oh She Glows) April 4, 2013

Hi Seraphina, Yes eggs and dairy are indeed plenty in his book! However, if you are comfortable with vegan cuisine I think it would be safe to say that many of the recipes could be adapted to be vegan. Obviously, the flavours and overall recipe might change, but there’s enough inspiration to work with if you like that challenge. There is also a very liberal use of oil (much more than I use in my own recipes) so that will be another challenge when I cook from it. I haven’t had a chance to cook from it yet (darn cookbook manuscript!), but I look forward to trying to veganize some of the recipes in the future. If I do, you’ll hopefully see some appear on the blog. I’d give it a look through in the bookstore before buying it.

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Julia Kent April 4, 2013

Oh Angela is this absolutely WILD that you love The Flavour Bible too! I got it as a birthday gift almost three years ago and consult it all the time. It was a great way to start creating my own recipes. It’s also great when you have a bunch of ingredients at home but aren’t sure what to do with them. Thanks for sharing!

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The Vegan Cookie Fairy April 4, 2013

I’ve had this book on my Amazon wishlist for ages. Really tempted to buy it now you’ve given it such a good review!

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Miche April 4, 2013

Adding this to my wishlist on Amazon :)

Congrats to the winners!

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char eats greens April 4, 2013

This book is seriously something I NEED. I constantly look the internet for pairings, but this is SO much more convenient!!!! Love it!

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Ashley April 4, 2013

I’ve had so many people recommend this book to me….I think it’s about time I buy it!

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susan m April 4, 2013

this book looks fantastic! i love finding ways to be creative with cooking and not always feel like i have to follow a recipe. great post!

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Ashley | Spoonful of Flavor April 4, 2013

I also love this book, it has definately been my most used reference book.

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Willow April 4, 2013

So glad I read this… The Flavor Bible has been on my to-buy list for ages, but I wasn’t sure it would offer that creative push I was hoping for. Now I know! Thanks for reviewing it for us. :)

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Anele @ Success Along the Weigh April 4, 2013

Love the Flavor Bible! I just wish that I remembered I own it more when I’m trying to think up recipes! DER!!!

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Beth @ Tasty Yummies April 4, 2013

I am IN LOVE with this book. I have had it for a few years now and was literally just telling a friend about it last night. A kitchen MUST for anyone who cooks.

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Perie April 4, 2013

I will check this out now that you have give it such a wonderful review! I am adventurous when I am in the mood to cook and this certainly is going to be a lot of help.

Thanks

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Andrea @ Soap4Squares April 4, 2013

This book sounds amazing!! I am constantly looking for new flavor combos and ideas for meals, and this could be a real asset in the kitchen! Thank you for the review! I’m going to have to pick up a copy!!

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Persistence Over Perfection April 4, 2013

Wow this book looks great – I’m often at a loss of what to pair things with and so can frequently eat similar things over and over – I’m off to buy a copy right now! Thanks :)

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Eddie April 4, 2013

I have a copy of this book. It is truly awesome. I got a lot of new inspirations for my dishes from it. :)

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Laura April 4, 2013

Love cooking and creating recipes :) Will be attending Vida Vegan Con in May. Hope to see you there!

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Jesse (OutToLunchCreations) April 4, 2013

This book looks awesome, I’ll have to get it. When I need combination I usually use Google but I think this book will provide more unique combos. Thanks for sharing.

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Christa @ Edible Balance April 4, 2013

I actually haven’t heard of the Flavor Bible, but I am definitely going to get my hands on a copy! What an incredible resource, I’d love to play a lot more with ingredients and find new combinations and ‘affinities’. Cinnamon, lemon and tomato? Very intriguing, thank you for posting such an informative review Angela!

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Kathryn April 4, 2013

Thank you for sharing this! I had no idea such a book existed! I’ll put this one on my wish list!

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Kristina April 4, 2013

This book looks fantastic! What a great resource to have in the kitchen.

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Lori @ Foxes Love Lemons April 4, 2013

I love the Flavor Bible! I need to get my own copy. Right now, I work from “Culinary Artistry,” which was the precursor to the Flavor Bible. Similar, but not quite as good.

I’ve also found Michael Ruhlman’s “Ratio” book to be quite helpful for recipe development.

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Jodi April 4, 2013

Grats ladies! I’m going to have to get a bigger bookshelf with all of these amazing cookbooks you’ve been recommending.

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Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health April 4, 2013

That book sounds very intriguing. And you MUST make the carrot cake cupcakes with orange frosting. My saliva glands are going nuts just thinking about that flavor combo!

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Carol April 4, 2013

I am so excited to have won the book. The funniest part was that I was at the bookstore today looking at Undiet and as much as I wanted to just buy it, I thought that I should at least wait until I saw who won the contest. I never win anything, so this is a sign that now is the time to clean up the way I (and my family) eat!! Thanks so much.

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Mary April 4, 2013

This book looks amazing! Never heard of it but it sounds really helpful, great review and thanks for sharing. I am always trying to figure out if the flavor combinations I make up are compatible or not. Maybe YOU should be the one to write a vegan version? =)

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Liz April 4, 2013

I have heard of the Flavor Bible before. I’m definitely going to check it out. Thanks for the tip. :)

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Maryse April 4, 2013

This book catch my attention right away, I just order it actually, I think it would make a wonderful gift for my daughter, her birthday is coming at the end of this month.
Thanks for sharing this book!

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Anna April 4, 2013

Great review, thanks for sharing! I think that I should get this book for my fiance, he’d absolutely adore this approach to flavor. Even if its not vegan, it seems like something that could inspire a lot of cooking ideas — and just might be something great to have in the house for those curious afternoons!

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Tanya @ playful and hungry April 4, 2013

you are right – a vegetarian / vegan version would be great!

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat April 4, 2013

Oh my gosh Ange, thank you so much for reminding me about this book! I’ve been wanting to get my hands on it for ages and happen to have an Amazon gift card coming my way so this will definitely be what I spend it on! Like you said, some of the flavour pairings/affinities sound obvious, but I always love trying new ones. I think I could read books like this like non-foodies read novels!

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Katy @KatysKitchen April 4, 2013

Wow, this book looks really neat. Thanks for sharing. I can just imagine myself going crazy in the kitchen, putting crazy ingrediens together. I can’t wait to get started. Have you read their other book, “Culinary Artistry”? If so, which one do you prefer?

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Erin April 4, 2013

Thanks for a great review! I would love to buy this, cooking is my passion and I am eager to increase my skills and knowledge as a home cook. I would like to try new things and it’s good to know that this book contains a lot of recipes and alternatives which you can use if you don’t have the main ingredient. This is also perfect if you would like to have an experiment, very helpful. I can’t wait to have this on my hands. Thank you!

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Katrin - therawfoodsisters.com April 5, 2013

I have never heard of the book! But it is great you can use it for inspiration. Always good to have! :)

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Jennifer April 5, 2013

Oh-I am too late :( But the book sounds awsome….I will be looking for it for sure

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Ally @ Om Nom Ally April 5, 2013

I love The Flavour Bible and refer to it and The Flavour Thesaurus all the time. I’ve often wondered why I crave seemingly weird flavour combinations, only to find that they actually go quite well together. Cinnamon, lemon and tomatoes is one I haven’t done yet though! Thanks for the review :)

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Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin April 5, 2013

This sounds like such a good resource! I love discovering unexpected flavour combinations that I never would have thought of.

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Gina April 5, 2013

I have been eyeing up this book for so long. I really should check it out.

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Melanie Van Wynsberg April 5, 2013

Awesome, congrats to the winners! :)

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