Reading & Recipes

The Flavour Principle

Jennifer Gagel
Written by Jennifer Gagel

Lucy Waverman and Beppi Crosariol have long been columnists for the Globe and Mail, writing about food, and wine and spirits, respectively. Now they have paired their love of food and drink into a book, The Flavour Principle, the new standard for anyone who sumptuously enjoys flavour.

“Every great dish has a centre of gravity, and overarching flavour or essence that pulls together other ingredients into a compelling whole,” say the authors, explaining the inspiration for their new book.

The Flavour Principle contains over 30 eclectic menus, organized around 11 different core flavours, such as earthy, spicy and umami (one of the five basic tastes, savoury but activating distinctly different receptors on the tongue, as defined by Japanese chemistry professor Kikunae Ikeda — who, not coincidentally, patented the manufacture of monosodium glutamate).

Well beyond wine, Crosariol gives us advice on how to stock his version of a bare-bones bar. Waverman weighs in with the basic ingredients of a global pantry. Between the two are the makings of a flavour extravaganza.

Wake up your taste buds with an old Venetian favourite (but a new and trendy cocktail in Canadian circles), Aperol Spritz. We are warned not to deviate from the brand name liquor. “Substitute an imposter and the deceit stands out faster than a Prada logo spelled with two d’s. It’s in the colour. Nothing delivers the electric-orange dazzle of Aperol, except maybe for orange Kool-Aid.” Their notes preceding the recipes are a pleasure to read, conversational and full of humour.

Tired of turkey but don’t want to break too far from tradition? From the Mediterranean comes the inspiration for Caramel-Pecan-Dusted Sea Bass with Cranberry Wine Sauce. “The nutty coating has a sweet-hot taste that, when contrasted with the soft flesh of the fish, gives an unbeatable flavour and texture profile.” Crosariol recommends taking a cue from the red wine sauce and serving a pinot noir. “The ideal red for fish, medium-bodied pinot keeps things light while delivering berry-like fruitiness to complement the smoky paprika in Lucy’s sea bass.”

Brussels sprouts are experiencing a trendy revival, and Waverman’s Shallot and Brussels Sprout Compote will have even fussy eaters coming back for seconds, especially when paired with Crosariol’s suggested nutty white Burgundy.

Throughout the pages, the authors take us on a global gastronomic journey, photo-journaled by Ryan Szulc, a Toronto-based food photographer who has worked for such major publications as Chatelaine and Maclean’s and won numerous awards.

This is one of the best cookbooks Canada has to offer and an excellent gift for any home cook. The recipes and beverages are completely professional, while the tone is as welcome as an old friend. “We’re honoured to be partners in your kitchen. We’re just sorry we can’t be there to help with the dishes.”

This holiday season tour the world via your taste buds with Waverman and Crosariol’s culinary passport to flavour.

 

JENNIFER GAGEL is a freelance writer and can be reached at jennagagel@gmail.com.

 

Recipes from The Flavour Principle © 2013 by Lucy Waverman and Beppi Crosariol. Photography © Ryan Szule.

Published by HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

 

Shaved Root Vegetable SaladRoot Salad

Young, fresh vegetables give a whole different look and taste to salads. Use whatever root vegetables you can find for this one, such as baby turnips and baby carrots. Bunches of baby beets also work beautifully, but don’t mix red ones into the salad until the very end or you’ll turn everything red. The squash I call for is not a root vegetable, but it adds another texture to the salad. If you go with larger vegetables, use a mandoline for shaving them. With the smaller ones, a vegetable peeler works well.

Serves 4

Vegetables:

1 bunch baby white turnips, peeled

2 bunches baby carrots, peeled

1 bunch yellow or red beets, peeled

4 baby pattypan squash

Salt and freshly ground pepper

 

To finish:

3 thin slices pancetta

2 cups peppery greens

½ cup shaved Pecorino Romano or Parmesan

 

Shallot Vinaigrette:

1 tbsp chopped shallots

1 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tbsp lemon juice

1⁄₃ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Shave turnips, carrots, yellow beets and pattypans using a vegetable peeler or mandoline into a bowl. Shave red beets (if using) into a separate bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir shallots, mustard and lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk in olive oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in parsley.

Fry pancetta in a skillet until crisp. Drain on paper towels and finely chop.

Place peppery greens on a platter. Drizzle over a little vinaigrette. Toss root vegetables, including red beets, with enough vinaigrette to moisten. Place on top of greens. Sprinkle pancetta over salad and finish with shaved cheese.

PAIRING: Sancerre

I’m accustomed to eating radishes and carrots straight fro the ground after giving them a quick splash with my garden hose. But raw beets and turnips were unknown to me until I tasted this salad. I love the bitter earthiness, and if, like me, you need a little liquid courage to give it a first shot, make the wine a crisp, lean, citrusy Sancerre from France, based on sauvignon blanc.

 

Slow-Baked Arctic Char with Crisp PotatoesArctic Char

 

Slow baking fish is not time-consuming. I like slow baking fish because you get a very even colour and a slightly softer texture than when you use high temperatures. The vegetable accompaniment cooks on top of the stove. The herb butter, with its refreshing lemony saltiness, makes the char even better. Leftover herb butter will keep refrigerated for a week or frozen indefinitely.

 

Serves 4

 

Crisp Potatoes

1 tbsp olive oil

2 oz (55 g) bacon or pancetta, diced

4 cups diced unpeeled red potatoes

4 oz (115 g) shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and diced

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

 

Herb Butter

¼ cup chopped shallots

3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

2 tbsp chopped chives

2 tbsp capers

2 tsp chopped fresh lemon thyme

1 tsp grated lemon zest

¾ cup butter, softened

 

4 skin-on Arctic char fillets (8 oz/225 g each)

 

Preheat oven to 250°F.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and sauté for 1 minute. Add potatoes and sauté, stirring occasionally, until a few potatoes start to brown, about 2 minutes more. Cover, reduce heat to medium and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Uncover skillet, add mush- rooms, season with salt and pepper and stir everything together. Cover again and cook for another 5 to 6 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and potatoes are golden. Sprinkle with parsley. Reserve.

Combine shallots, parsley, chives, capers, lemon thyme and lemon zest while potatoes are cooking. Mix into butter.

Place char fillets skin side down in an oiled baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brush each fillet with about 1 tsp herb butter.

Bake for 25 to 28 minutes or until white juices are just beginning to appear. Place fish on serving plates and dot with remaining herb butter.

Reheat potato mixture and serve with the fish.

Pairing: Pinot gris

This is the alter ego of pinot grigio. With the popularity explosion of easy-sipping Italian pinot grigio, a naming convention arose. Crisp, simple quaffs tend to get slapped with the grigio moniker, while more substantial “serious” wines are called pinot gris (though there are exceptions). The “serious” version is a specialty of Alsace in France as well as Oregon and British Columbia. The medium weight and subtle fruitiness find their mark with this delicate fish and earthy potato-based side.

 

 

Caffè Latte Panna Cotta with Decadent Chocolate CookiesPanna Cotta

 

If you don’t have a hand blender or frother to make the froth, you could easily just whip some cream for the topping. The number of servings will depend on the size of your coffee cups. Have any leftovers for breakfast the next morning and the caffeine will perk you right up.

 

Serves 4 to 8

 

Panna Cotta

1 cup cold strong coffee

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tbsp gelatine

½ tsp kosher salt

1 cup whole milk

1 cup whipping cream

1 tsp vanilla

 

Froth

¼ cup whole milk

½ tsp gelatine

½ tsp granulated sugar

Combine coffee, sugar, gelatine and salt in a medium pot. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Add milk, cream and vanilla and continue to stir until mixture is warm. Cool slightly, stirring occasionally to make sure gelatine is well distributed. Pour into espresso or coffee cups. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until set.

Heat milk for froth with gelatine and sugar in a small pot over low heat until gelatine has dissolved. Pour into a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until it just begins to set.

Froth mixture with a hand blender until frothy. Spoon froth on top of panna cottas. Sprinkle with shaved chocolate if desired. Chill until needed, and serve with Decadent Chocolate Cookies.

Decadent Chocolate Cookies

These soft, ultra-chocolaty bites complement the taste of the panna cotta. Use very dark chocolate (70% cocoa) for the biggest flavour hit. These can also be made as larger cookies using a heaped table- spoon of dough, which will yield 20 cookies. Bake them for 12 minutes. Large or small, they keep well.

Makes 70 small cookies

½ cup butter

4 oz (115 g) dark chocolate (70% cocoa)

2 eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp kosher salt

70 small (or 12 medium) squares chocolate

Icing sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Melt butter and dark chocolate in a medium, heavy pot over low heat. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Stir together eggs, sugar and vanilla. Blend into melted chocolate mixture. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Fold into chocolate mixture.

Place heaped teaspoons of dough on prepared cookie sheets about 1 inch apart. Press into rounds with the back of a spoon. Cookies should be about ½ inch thick. Top each one with a square of chocolate. Bake for 7 minutes or until the inside is still soft. Cool on racks. The cookies harden a little as they cool.

Sprinkle with icing sugar.

Pairing: Recioto

I love the name recioto. It comes from recie, Venetian dialect for “ears,” a reference to the tendency of certain grape clusters to form two little lobes that dangle from the main bunch. The exposed lobes receive the most sunlight, yielding super-ripe grapes that for centuries have been used to produce a sweet wine in the Veneto region of Italy, the precursor to a now more famous dry red called Amarone. Recioto today is more typically made using the whole cluster, left on mats after harvest to dry and concentrate sugars. If left to ferment to complete dryness, the wine becomes Amarone, but when fermentation is halted part way, it becomes recioto. Alternatives: California black muscat or espresso coffee.   

About the author

Jennifer Gagel

Jennifer Gagel

JENNIFER GAGEL is a culinary enthusiast and multi-faceted freelance writer who can be reached at jenna@gmail.com