Elements of Taste, Food Taste Types & Cookbooks in General

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Joined Mar 3, 2002
On another thread, Isa wrote, "Like they say in Elements of Taste, a fish store should smell oceanic not fishy."

I've read this book and even made a recipe from it. I'd be interested in your response to the organizing of cookbooks around elements of taste and Kunz' ideas. I think even good home cooks, much less chefs, have paid careful and deliberate attention to the balancing of flavor categories all along. What strikes me as new in his book is the use of this kind of food balancing as the organizing principle of cookbooks.

I'd be interested in what others think of this book which I'm sure many have read and some may have cooked from. (The one recipe I tried worked very well - fruit stuffed pork with gastrique pears.)

Are there any other books with this sort of emphasis other than perhaps Culinary Artistry? Michael Roberts' Secret Ingredients (1988) does this in a less comprehensive fashion. Are there others?
 

isa

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Joined Apr 4, 2000
You have to try the oven crisp chicken with maple vinegar sauce on page 126 Alexia. Iit is to die for. Just make sure you double the quanty of the sauce, as it is you won't have enough sauce for seconds.
 
489
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Joined Mar 3, 2002
Thanks for the tip, Isa, I've been eying the chicken/maple vinegar recipe -- the sweet/sour flavor is one of my favorites. On your recommendation I'll make it my next pick from Elements. The other one I had been considering is the Braised Short Ribs (p 151). Did you use the stronger flavored Grade B maple syrup? or the lighter flavored A?

If you do try the pork/pear recipe (p 30), you may want to keep in mind my experience with it. The first time I used Bosc pears and a Banyuls vinegar instead of the distilled vinegar called for in the recipe. The second time I used the distilled vinegar and some other pear variety (a softer type, don't remember which). The second version was not nearly as good. If I didn't have a Bayuls vinegar, I'd try it with a Sherry or perhaps Champagne vinegar which introduce a flavor as well as sourness. And I will never make it with a softer pear again (the texture doesn't work).
 

isa

3,236
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Joined Apr 4, 2000
what a coincidence, I was just looking at this recipe last week. It just look so good I thought I had to try it. After reading your comments I'll have to make them next week, if I'm home. I am curious about one thing, what is a Banyuls vinegar?


I went to a culinary demonstration a few weeks ago, the chef made a pork tenderlion with aple and maple. Would you like the recipe?
 
489
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Joined Mar 3, 2002
Isa, I've been off-line the last couple days, so I'm slow in answering your post. The banyuls vinegar is --ta da-- made from Banyuls, a sweet wine (from the So of France, I believe). It's not very acidic (compared to, say sherry vinegar -which is another favorite of mine). I bought mine from DiBruno's (Phila). It's a bit pricy (20/25 oz), but lasts a long time. I generally don't use it for greens salads, but like it in making a gastrique, or using with fruit. It's aromatic, not merely a sour element. I've become a bit tired of balsamic all the time, though I like using the "sweeter" vinegar sometimes. Also, sometimes I'll mix a flavorful wine with some mild vinegar (such as rice) to make a specialty "wine vinegar."

But in this case it's already made and aged for you: Vinaigre de Banyuls, Vielli en futs de chene, 6 ans d'age; Mis en bouteille a la propriete, La Cave de L'abbe Rous. Imported & Dist by Gourmand, Inc, Herndon, Va 22071

I like the Banyuls wine, too. It comes in half bottle form. I like drinking it and I also use it occasionally in cooking (including my favorite stew from Paula Wolfert). I found the distilled vinegar too harsh when I tried the Kuhn recipe that way. If I didn't have the Banyuls, I think I'd try something like a mixture of port and rice vinegar, as port and pears (or even a sweet madiera) are a really good combination. Or buy a half bottle of of the Banyuls to have for dessert one night, saving some for the pork recipe on another. And I think I substituted dried sour cherries for one of the fruits.

Can you tell I have a sweet tooth? :bounce:

So of course I'd love your recipe.
 

isa

3,236
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Joined Apr 4, 2000
Thanks for the tip Alexia, I'll try to find some in gourmet shops.


Is it ok if I give you the recipe this weekend?
 
489
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Joined Mar 3, 2002
No urgency, Isa. I've already shopped for this weekend and will be away much of next week. No chance I'll try it for a week or more. Anyway, I've a stack of things to try. :)
 
3,853
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Joined May 26, 2001
To go back to Alexia's original question: I usually shy away from "famous chef" cookbooks. But I LOVE The Elements of Taste. Even if I never cook a single dish from it, it has really made me think about WHY flavors work together -- or don't -- in a way that nothing else has. Culinary Artistry is a "how" book; The Elements of Taste is a "why" book. :)

BTW: Your mention of the chicken recipe reminded me: this summer in Vermont we had a salad dressing that was faintly, fascinatingly sweet. Not cloying like a raspberry vinaigrette, just a hint of sweet flavor. What was the secret? -- maple syrup, of course! in an otherwise normal oil-and-vinegar dressing.
 

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