Four-star chef Gray Kunz has teamed up with food writer Peter Kaminsky to put together a cookbook that looks precisely at how the dynamic of great taste is achieved. By putting into plain language the thoughts that a chef has when he or she creates a recipe, The Elements of Taste has forged a revolutionary approach to cookbook writing. Every dish in this book is conceived according to the interplay of fourteen categories of taste.
In exuberantly married dishes, Kunz and Kaminsky demonstrate how these tastes interact and build on one another and, most important, how we experience them. They show you exactly how to make delicious dishes and tell you how and why they work. Truly inspired combinations include Halibut with Spring Onion Stew in Watercress Mussel Broth, Spiced Shrimp in Cardamom Ancho Chili Sauce, Oven-Crisped Chicken with Maple Vinegar Sauce, Ham Hocks and Spare Ribs in Cherry Beer, Poached and Crisped Turkey Leg Provençale with Lemon Pickle, Chilled Lemongrass Soup with Coconut-Pineapple Ice Cream and Papaya, and Citrus and Passion Fruit Soufflé. Describing the heat, the texture, the timing of taste as you bite through these mouthfuls, the authors go beyond merely telling the home chef how to put together these dishes. In clear, concise language they explain how each flavor fits into the total taste experience.
More than a primer of flavor, this is a practical and seductive introduction to the world of taste, including over 130 recipes by one of the acknowledged masters of contemporary cuisine. When you have cooked through this book, you will be able to look into your own pantry or refrigerator to create your own four-star meals.
Kunz (former four-star chef of New York's Lespinasse restaurant) and Kaminsky (New York Times food writer and author of The Moon Pulled Up an Acre of Bass) team up for a cookbook variation. Instead of arranging food by course or primary ingredient, they identify 14 basic tastes (salty, sweet, floral herbal, "funky," meaty, etc.) then groups them into four categories: Tastes That Push, Tastes That Pull, Tastes That Punctuate and Taste Platforms. The resulting recipes are, understandably, high-concept chef food. Explaining how they layer and balance tastes, the authors conclude each recipe with Our Taste Notes, which take an oenophile's approach to flavor description. Sweet Scallops in a Pink Lentil Crust with a Hot-and-Sweet Bell Pepper Reduction ends thusly: "The taste comes through first as crunch, then salt, and then heat. Next you get sweetness from the scallops.... The celery leaves provide a final garden note with some bitterness to close down the taste." Components are combined fearlessly. Green Onion Fondue includes scallions, tomatoes, dates, cornichons, mint and ajowan. Lady Apples with Gruyere Celery Pork Pockets are stuffed pork chops tweaked with cumin, mustard, prosciutto, turnips and quartered lady apples. As complicated and as multi-ingrediented as many recipes are, the directions are admirably clear, and some recipes, such as Oysters and Cabbage and Two-Tomato Coulis with Three Basils, are quite simple. While some readers may initially find the concept to be contrived, most will welcome this unusual means of creating and characterizing food. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Little, Brown and Company
October 23, 2001
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