If you are a regular follower of CritDicks, then you know I occasionally will add stories and reviews about cooking and provide tips on techniques and products I use. The Flavor Bible has long been an essential tool in my kitchen since learning about it while attending culinary school. Once you learn how to use it, you will find that it provides an enormous amount of information that literally unlocks inspiration on ingredients to use when creating meals or dishes. When I tell people about the book, it is usually followed by me sending them a copy for use in their own kitchen. It is an inexpensive gift and a way for me to spread a little bit of the reason I went to culinary school . . . to share with my family and friends.
This Friday evening’s creation began with a desire to eat something without laboring; because after all, it is Friday night, and having pizza earlier in the week, I just wanted something simple to fill the void while enjoying cocktails and watching television with the wife.
I searched the freezer and found some long overdue Priano brand Pumpkin and Sage Ravioli that we bought at Aldi supermarket. And since we are upon the pumpkin season, I felt they may be worthy of trying. We are not a big fan of sweet ravioli filled with vegetables that are popular and trendy like butternut squash, or lighter, sweeter cheese like mascarpone. We were skeptical when we purchased them, but they were on sale some time ago, and in a small two-person serving size, so we figured we would save them for a night like tonight.
I had two main ingredients identified on the ravioli package; pumpkin and sage. The package label recommended a potential creation of using cinnamon and Amaretto as ingredients, and I am sure there was probably a recipe on the back for using the suggested ingredients identified on the lable. I’m sure it would have probably been good, but I am not a recipe follower and it already sounded to be drifting toward something sweet. I was also apprehensive about the pumpkin being too sweet, so I was looking for more savory ingredients in which to make my sauce for our little Friday night nosh. So I opened The Flavor Bible to get some ideas for ingredients I already had in the fridge or cupboard. That’s one of the great things about The Flavor Bible; being able to create things from ingredients you already have available, without having to go to the market.
So, I looked up pumpkin because it was the main and possibly overpowering ingredient. Not to my surprise, sage was identified in The Flavor Bible with BOLD CAPS and highly recommended as a flavor affinity to pumpkin. Going along the same savory ingredient idea, I just looked under pumpkin for additional ingredients to provide me with more ideas. I complied the list below after just a couple of minutes. Since I also had these prepared Dorot Gardens crushed ginger squares in the freezer that we purchased from Trader Joe’s, I thought this simple project was going to really take shape.
Within about 20 minutes I had water boiling, my sauce created and was ready to serve. I garnished the plate with a fresh sliced tomato from the garden, sprinkled with a bit of kosher salt and was off to a quick bite to foster another wonderful Friday evening.
The Flavor Bible is a bit overwhelming to look at for the first time, because it is full of ingredients and more ingredients, some in bold, some in BOLD CAPS and some in regular type. The essentials on how to use The Flavor Bible are found on page 35, in a small section at the top of the page. Before page 35 are culinary tips on how to cook, what to cook and why you are cooking with certain ingredients. There are also biographies on the Chefs that contributed to the book. You can read that other crap some other day if interested, but to get down to business, just turn to page 35 and begin.
I use The Flavor Bible rather religiously when I am creating new things. I mentioned earlier that I don’t normally follow recipes, but I do use them as references to find out how things are put together or other essential characteristics about making dishes. I will follow recipes only when I need to know some of the scientific specifics when baking.
Have fun creating from what is already in your pantry or refrigerator ready to spoil. Don’t throw away a good thing that could be your next ingredient to culinary bliss.