The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg is one of the most interesting and unique food books out there. It's a compilation of flavor matches for pretty much any ingredient under the sun, from achiote seeds to zucchini blossoms. Each ingredient is followed by a list of complementary flavors. The strongest matches are indicated in boldface and/or caps.
So, if you were to look up, say, figs, you would find a long list of ingredients that have an affinity for figs, like arugula, bacon, hazelnuts, and pears. In bold would be prosciutto, red wine vinegar, and mascarpone, indicating an even stronger partnership, and, in bold caps, the ultimate matches: BLUE CHEESE, HONEY, and WALNUTS. Ergo, an arugula salad with pears and figs sprinkled with crumbled bacon, hazelnuts, and blue cheese lightly dressed with a red wine vinaigrette might not be a shitty idea!
It's basically a food thesaurus. And now that I'm writing a cookbook, it's become a really useful reference tool. When I get stuck on a recipe (either because it's ill-conceived or my vision exceeds my talents), I simply read through the appropriate ingredient list before bed, and, when I wake up, I have some new recipe ideas fully formed and ready for testing. It's like magic!
But even if you're not under the gun in terms of recipe development, it's fascinating to flip through the lists. They were compiled not just from the minds of the authors, but from dozens of internationally renowned chefs, like Daniel Boulud, Rick Bayless, Lidia Bastianich, Mario Batali, Judy Rodgers, Vikram Vij, and Grant Achatz. There are suggested flavor pairings ranging from obvious to oddball, quotes from chefs about how they cook with specific ingredients, and actual menu items from famous restaurants. There are some pretty photos, too, but it's mostly a word book. Did I mention it won a James Beard Award?
Little, Brown has graciously agreed to donate one copy. To be considered, tell me how you would finish the following food equation, which was pulled directly from the book. In other words, what sort of dish would you make with:
sweet potatoes + apples + sage
I know, I know, you're busy with all of your holiday crap, and now I'm expecting you to be the next Iron Chef. If you're stuck, do what I do and sleep on it. Then comment with whatever your subconscious serves up. Involve as many other ingredients as you'd like—this is just a starting point. You don't even have to cook it for me. If it sucks, I'll never know! Comments will close Saturday 12/24 at 10 p.m. EST and Random.org will do the rest.