Cooking in Color

I wouldn’t have created a creative Valentine’s Day dinner menu without The Designer’s Cookbook. Though the book itself seem to be targeting designers, culinary artists to average folks alike can benefit from this lovely color coded recipe collection. And though Valentine’s Day just passed us by and so this may be a bit irrelevant, there are 10 other colors that may be of relevance to you or your loved ones. So keep reading!

The Designer’s Cookbook is more than a book of cooking recipes, it is an adventurous compilation of colorful cuisine. For a color enthusiast, this volume is the bible of all cookbooks. For the impatient and hangry folks, you’re better off ordering take-out. This cookbook, though fun-looking, is also for the more experienced cooks and even better: chefs. However, if you are a textbook student, have the patience, and the stubborn tenacity of a Pokemon-Go player then by all means go for it!

Having the assets of the third string audience (not counting the impatient and hangry folks), I attempted Menu 11: Bordeaux. Everything had to be red for Valentine’s Day dinner and I coerced Akira in preparing the lavish Bordeaux themed dinner. At first, the menu seemed feasible until the cookbook called for Raspberry vinegar, Lollo Rosso lettuce, Red Beet (Beetroot) sprouts, Fig mustard, and Red salt. We went to two national chain grocery stores and two local specialty grocery stores but found none of the above list. Two days away from the said dinner, we had even foolishly looked for them on Amazon and Google. After some serious research, we found Beetroot sprouts all the way in the middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania and they still needed sprouting.

Nevertheless, Menu 11 was still on deck to swing that bat. The failed procurement of specialty produce and gourmet seasonings left us disheartened. However after conquering college degrees and soldiering through life, we tapped into creative problem solving. We resorted to Raspberry vinaigrette, Red Leaf Lettuce (different from Lollo Rosso Lettuce despite the English translation: Red Coral Lettuce), foregone the Beetroot sprouts (though it could be substituted with Broccoli or Alfalfa sprouts aside from Bean sprouts), relinquished the Fig mustard (albeit the possibility of Fig and mustard fusion through a blender), and dyed the sea salt Red– just kidding. We simply used sea salt but if you really need it red, order it from Amazon in advance or wait for Trader Joe’s annual 7 Salts of the Earth holiday gift set.

Now, the directions may seem straightforward but do heed the time(s). We overlooked the 10-hour freezing time for the Red Wine Sherbet, the two months storage time for the Red Berry Liqueur, two-hour infusing time of carpaccio and sauce, and another two-hour infusing time of the steak and sauce. Then most important of all, start Menu 11 well in (a year) advanced to ensure everything on the set menu is followed to a T. We had to drop three recipes and improvised the rest.

What Akira and I found troublesome (aside from the exotic ingredients) was the absence of an equipment and tool list. Having a list of necessary devices would have made the cooking process easier and more fun. Instead, we had to scramble in search for needed equipment and tools. Albeit it was our responsibility to review and take notes on the recipe, the equipment and tools list would make a big difference in the cooking experience: convenience.

Now before you get excited about owning The Designer’s Cookbook, be advised that it will cost you more (grocery shopping) than the book’s current selling price of $35.14 at Amazon. That’s about $2.93 per menu. If you’re not happy with Amazon’s offering, you may want to compare prices at other resellers such as our very own Walters Art Museum or Barnes & Noble ($34.78). As for the question of worthiness, it all depends on you. If you ask me, speaking from an artist and color enthusiast perspectives, it’s well worth it. It’s a treasure I will someday pass onto future little culinary artists in my family. But on the other hand, if you’re more on the frugal side of the spectrum, a little innovative thinking and Google will lead you to endless colorful recipes– just without Trish Lorenz’s poetic foreword to spring you into colorful culinary action.

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