Flavors: 25 Magical Flavors and Tastes to Transform Your Cooking
Paul Gayler. Kyle Cathie Limited, $29.95 (184pp) ISBN 978-1-904920-14-4
Tempted to try the tangy flavor of lemongrass but not sure how to cook with it? Gayler, an English celebrity chef, teaches readers how to use 25 different ""flavors"" in this attractively photographed book, among them lemongrass, tamarind, lavender and balsamic vinegar. Each flavor receives a chapter containing recipes, a helpful list of complementary flavors (pepper with strawberries, for example, or saffron with shellfish) and a short discussion of varieties. But rather than building on the concept of cooking by flavor by instructing readers to layer flavors by extracting them in different ways, as Lisa Yockelson did in Baking by Flavor, Gayler treats his flavors more superficially. Many of the recipes just include a bit of the ingredient in question-a few tablespoons of tamarind paste added to pad thai in Stir Fried Noodles, Thai Style, for example (which happened to turn gooey and inedible in the wok when we tried it). And some of his ingredients might be difficult for Americans or non-city dwellers to find: superfine sugar, baby leeks, smoked paprika, arrowroot and golden syrup, as well as geographically specific fish, like sea bream, that are listed without substitutions. A few ingredient names could have been changed for an American audience: ""Stir in the cranberry jello,"" he instructs in the recipe for Balsamic Braised Red Cabbage with Cranberries, which will confuse anyone looking for cranberry or red currant jello (rather than jelly) in the grocery store. Nonetheless, the book does contain a few excellent recipes. Pork Loin cooked in vanilla milk is an unusual and fragrant use of vanilla beans. And the desserts, from Saffron Pavlova with Lime Curd to ginger-scented Parkin, a traditional Yorkshire dessert, are exquisite.
Reviewed on: 03/01/2005