The Vegetarian Flavor Bible Giveaway and a Guest Post from Karen Page

TVFB_FINALCOVER_300dpi_500In The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, Karen Page, a two-time James Beard Award-winning author unlocks flavor combinations for hundreds of ingredients, while examining health considerations. This book is truly an essential guide to culinary creativity. Emphasizing plant-based whole foods, the book provides and A to Z listing of ingredients from acai to zucchini blossoms, cross-referenced with herbs, spices and other seasonings that work to best enhance their flavor. The result is thousands of perfect pairings. I really appreciated the first chapter, devoted to the history of vegetarianism and many of the key players and events that have led us to today, when eating less meat or even no meat is considered mainstream. Karen has shared her personal journey, along with her husband Andrew to a largely plant-based diet. (Andrew is responsible for the book’s beautiful photographs.) How Karen, Andrew and I had not met until their book event at the 92nd Street Y with Candle 79’s Joy Pierson is a mystery to us. But, we did meet and soon after, we enjoyed a long teatime conversation together. I was already a fan of her other books, notably, Becoming a Chef and The Flavor Bible, but this vegetarian themed book has me over the moon. Thank you Karen (and Andrew)!


KarenPageAuthorShotFlowers300dpiWT800When I first started letting people know that I had adopted a plant-strong diet, I remember being asked, “But how on earth could you live without bacon – or chocolate?” – which were two of the five foods I’d mentioned in my book CULINARY ARTISTRY that my eight-year-old self swore I could live on for the rest of my life.  (The others, btw, were bananas, peanut butter, and Rice Krispies.)


VBT_Photos_chocumami_lagustasI’ve since found satisfying substitutes for bacon (including smoked paprika and smoked tofu, plus the amazingly crispy tempeh bacon I tasted at Real Food Daily in Los Angeles), but I was never in any real danger of having to give up chocolate.  I’m not a big fan of milk chocolate to begin with – plus with Fran writing amazing books like Vegan Chocolate, there are thankfully more vegan chocolate recipes around than I’ll ever have the time to take on firsthand.  And with talented chocolatiers like Lagusta Yearwood offering mail order, there’s also no reason not to enjoy a bit of vegan chocolate when you don’t feel like cooking yourself.


Andrew and I love playing around with chocolate in the kitchen.  In the old days, we used to grate Valrohna chocolate into heavy cream to make hot chocolate.  (Woof!)  Today, we grate organic 70% dark chocolate into almond milk, and heat it until warm (and not longer, lest it all evaporate!).  When we want to add a twist to it, we’ll scan the list of flavor pairings for chocolate in THE VEGETARIAN FLAVOR BIBLE, and see what gets us excited.  Sometimes it’s just a shake of cinnamon; other times, it’s a squeeze of orange juice – depending on whether we want that tertiary flavor to take the hot chocolate in a lighter and tart (orange) or sweet and earthy (cinnamon) direction.


Whenever you’re seeking pre–screened inspiration on the fly, all you have to do is look up whatever ingredient you’re working with, and scan the book’s list for bold and BOLD CAP ingredients that pair well with it until you choose the one that most appeals to you.  You can keep cross-referencing up a storm, because as long as any ingredient you add to the original two is compatible with every other ingredient, you’re on your way to experiencing exciting new flavor synergies.


VBT_Photos_chocumami_petitsfoursFor example, under CHOCOLATE in THE VEGETARIAN FLAVOR BIBLE, you’ll find lots of flavor pairings to get your palate revved up, e.g., BANANASCARAMELcherriesCINNAMONcoconutCOFFEEdried fruit, gingermalt, maple syrupMINTmochaNUTSraisins, raspberries, rumSUGAR, and VANILLA, just to mention a few of the more popular ones.


From there, you’ll find ideas for flavor affinities, which are groups of three or more ingredients that all play well together – for example:

chocolate + almonds + maple syrup
chocolate + banana + Brazil nut + smoke
chocolate + banana + caramel + pecans + vanilla
chocolate + caramel + coffee + cream + malt + peanut
chocolate + cherries + dates + nuts
chocolate + coconut + ginger
chocolate + coffee + orange
chocolate + dried plums + hazelnuts
chocolate + peanut + pretzel + stout
chocolate + pecans + vanilla
chocolate + pistachios + walnuts

VBT_Photos_chocumami_candle79dessertOnce you know what flavor affinities you’d like to work with, you can get ideas for how leading restaurants have combined those ingredients into a dish. For example, at Candle Café West in New York City, the flavor affinities “chocolate + banana + caramel + pecans + vanilla” became the dessert of “Mexican Chocolate, Brownie with Caramelized Bananas, French Vanilla Ice Cream, Candied Pecans and Chocolate Ancho Sauce” pictured here.


A few other examples:

chocolate + caramel + coffee + cream + malt + peanut
Chocolate Layer Cake: Coffee Bean Cream, Chocolate Ganache, Lucky Hand Black Lager Caramel, Peanut Brittle, Malt Chip Ice Cream
–Millennium (San Francisco)


chocolate + banana + Brazil nut + smoke
Banana Chocolate Tart with Mesquite Flour Crust and Brazil Nut
–True Food Kitchen (Santa Monica)


chocolate + peanut + pretzel + stout
Chocolate Uber Chunk Pretzel–Peanut Crust, Malt Custard, Stout Ice Cream
— Vedge (Philadelphia)


Have fun letting THE VEGETARIAN FLAVOR BIBLE inspire your next creation in the kitchen!


I have a copy of The Vegetarian Flavor Bible for one one lucky winner. Follow the instructions below to enter. U.S. residents only, please. Contest ends at midnight on January 15, 2015. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


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