Culinary Artistry. The best cookbook I've ever read!
You need this book!
I want to talk about the best cookbook I've ever read. The book is called Culinary Artistry and it helped me become a better cook!
Now I've been a cookbook junky for years, and I've read thousand, literally thousands, of cookbooks. Culinary artistry isn't really a traditional cook book, it's more of a cooking resource book, and instead of recipes; it has food matches that aim to free you from recipes.
The book was written by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. They interviewed a bunch of the most respected chefs in America today; and from these interviews wrote a book on subjects like menu planning, essential techniques etc.
This part of the book is great, and as a working chef I devoured it and learned a lot from what the stars in the industry were already doing. The best part of the book however, is the 50 plus pages of food pairings. Through their interviews with the top culinary talent, they learned what foods go best with what other foods, and from this they developed a list.
Foods are listed alphabetically from almonds to walnuts and each item has a list of other foods that will go with them.
For example, Shitake Mushrooms:
Butter, Napa cabbage, chicken, eggplant, fish, game, garlic, olive oil, parsley, shallots.
The purpose of the food parings is to free cooks from recipes. Go the market, buy whatever looks great, and when you get home take a look through the charts of food pairings until you get an idea for a meal.
If shitakes looked great and you bought some, you might take a look at the food pairings and decide to make something like pasta with shitakes, butter, garlic, and parsley in an olive oil and butter based sauce.
Using the food pairings as a base for your cooking is really liberating; and it's a lot of fun to use your creative side to come up with your own unique recipes. Since you know that the ingredients that you combine are meant to work together, then odds are you'll create something really tasty; and since you'll be using what looked good and fresh from the market, your food will be that much better.
My copy is incredibly dog eared. I must have read this book cover to cover 50 times! I really recommend this book for anyone who already has a bit of confidence in the kitchen, and wants to step out a little bit and try something new. You'll really enjoy coming up with your own unique dishes!