Three years ago, Erin Coopey wrote a brilliant book, The Kitchen Pantry, devoted to making your own condiments at home. Yes, homemade mayo and mustard and salad dressing. Fresher, brighter and surely healthier.
She’s back with Infusing Flavors, a book literally infused with clever ideas to make you a better cook and a happier eater. Infusing Flavors offers you ideas for your own oils, vinegars, sauces, bitters, waters, soft drinks, shrubs, … Well, I could go on for a couple of lines here. Here are two key points. First, this book gives you templates so you can try the recipes in the book and then let your imagination fly. Second, you learn here how important infusing can be, how you can accelerate your food flavors and achieve spectacular dishes, ones that make you proud and well as happy. And, very happily, you can achieve all this with only a modest effort.
What is infusion? You take a liquid, say oil, and you take flavor enhancers, say some herbs and flower petals, and you combine them. It’s that simple. You may need a little patience for the flavors to marry, but that’s part of the fun. Do your infusing, wait a week and taste. Then wait another week and taste again and experience the wonders that a little time can perform. And, there are no “rules” here. Early infusion and mature ones can be enjoyed with equal relish. And you will.
This slim book, less than 200 pages, can only be described as flavor packed. Here’s a sample of the recipes you can enjoy:
Chamomile-Lavender Tisane [aka herbal tea]
Mango-Lemongrass Iced Tea
Homemade Ginger Ale
Watermelon and Hibiscus Agua Fresca
Lemongrass-Infused Rice Vinegar
Citrus-Infused Chicken Broth
Spice-Infused Caramel Sauce
These are bold ideas, ones I have not seen before and I bet you have not either. That Tomato-Balsamic Shrub, for example, is destined for your Sunday brunch cocktail table for sure. There seems to be no limit to Erin’s imagination and the ideas are brilliantly accented with inspiring photographs.
This is not a book to buy and put up on your bookshelf. No, this stays on the counter or the island, a reference you can turn to every day. Once you’ve thumbed through a few times, you’ll have a sense of the lay of the recipe land here. So, when you have some ingredient in your fridge you want to use, you brain is going to remind you the book has just the match you need or perhaps a recipe that can adapted. This is a book that will keeping your thinking every time you do open the fridge.
So, you want to buy some copies of Infusing Flavors. One for you, of course. But, if you want the perfect gift for a foodie relative or friend, there just is nothing better. This gift will go on giving for a lifetime. If you do give this as a gift, bundle it with some lavender and lemons. Give everyone a head start to Infusing Flavors.