Tuesday 21 May 2019

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Cork Independent

Bia Sasta

Flavours to excite and confuse the senses!

Wednesday, 20th March, 2019 4:26pm

A few years back, a Cork chef made me a dish using fish and banana – I kid you not.

I still don’t understand the idea behind this combination but I gave it a try and to my utter surprise, it wasn’t too bad.

Still, it’s not something I would order off a menu. But the memory of this dish got me thinking about how to combine food to create a new dish.

Heston Blumenthal and Ferran Adria of the famous elBulli were pioneers in new combinations like the bacon ice cream good old Heston became famous for.

A few months back, I tried my own little adventure by creating a purely savoury afternoon tea – some guests couldn’t get their heads around my tomato jelly with onion cream.

People speak of classic combinations like pork and apple, tomato and basil, bacon and eggs – you know them all. So, when we are faced with new things like cauliflower and chocolate, we will always hesitate first.

Re-creating Heston Blumenthal’s cauliflower risotto dish would take us mortals about two days and we would need some brave guests to understand the addition of chocolate jelly to an otherwise normal sounding dish.

Most creative cooks – and I am sure many professional chefs – will have ‘The Flavour Thesaurus’ in their bookshelves. Written by Niki Segnit, it must have taken years to discover all the different flavour and food combinations.

It is a wonderful tool if you have a fridge full of ingredients and no idea what to prepare. Take the book, open it on page 344 and you will find that mushroom and blueberry is a great idea to add to lasagna and an idea for blueberry and mushroom risotto – apparently a winning dish by an Italian chef.

I think I will give this a skip and enjoy my blueberries poached with cinnamon on my porridge or ice cream.

Last Christmas, Niki’s latest book was on my wish list and Santa, aka Mr T was clever enough to pick ‘Lateral Cooking’ as one the books to put under the tree.

Again, based on flavours and food combinations, this book takes you further as it contains recipes that are almost open-ended for you to explore more and add your own twist on things. The section on bread covers more than just the basic recipe; it shows you how to use the dough in different ways and to elevate something as simple as soda bread dough to an Irish stew cobbler.

Each chapter starts with the basic recipe and tips followed by ideas for flavour matching. This book is perfect for homecooks who like to take their ambitions further or anyone who is looking to learn more about the principals of food.

Now, who would like some caviar on their banana?

On a completely different note, I am looking forward to this weekend’s Sugarcraft Show at the Radisson Hotel in Little Island. Hope to see you there!

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