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A Symphony Of Flavor

Chef Gray Kunz has created a three-course meal for four on a budget of $30. The recipes come from his new cookbook, "The Elements of Taste."

The recipes are meant to demonstrate how the different tastes interact and build on one another and (most importantly) how we experience them. The 14 categories of taste explored in the book are: salty, picante, sweet, tangy, vinted, bulby, spiced aromatic, floral herbal, funky, sharp/bitter, garden, meaty, oceanic, and starchy.


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Gray Kunz was the four-star chef of New York City's Lespinasse restaurant, where he worked with the flavors of France and Asia. (This reflects his coming of age in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Switzerland.)

He was voted "Best American Chef" by the James Beard Award in 1995. Three years later, he was inducted into the Restaurant Hall Of Fame.

Menu:
Cauliflower Fricassee With Cilantro Raita And Pea Sprouts
Sausage With Lager Sauce And Apple Bouillon
Petit Pots

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Cauliflower Fricassee With Cilantro Raita And Pea Sprouts

Ingredients for Spice Mix
1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds
1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon curry powder

Method:
Toast the fennel, coriander, and cumin seeds together over medium-high heat until they are very fragrant. Add the ground spices, mix well, and reserve for use below.

Ingredients for Cilantro Raita
1/2 cup yogurt
1/3 cup roughly chopped coriander (if possible, use recao, which is Vietnamese coriander)
Zest of 1 lemon, julienned
1 cup green pea shoots (This is optional for crunch; you can substitute bean sprouts.)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
Kosher salt
Sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon thinly sliced chives

Method:
Mix the yogurt, coriander, lemon zest, chives, and pea shoots or sprouts. Season with pepper, plenty of salt and enough sugar to give a hint of sweetness. Chill until ready to serve.

Ingredients for Cauliflower Fricassee:
1 1/2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral vegetable oil
1 head cauliflower, split and separated into florets
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup thinly sliced, peeled ginger
1/2 cup roughly diced onion
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground white pepper
2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
6 scallions, trimmed thethinly sliced
reserved spice mix
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup orange juice
2 lemons, zest removed and julienned, then juiced
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup canned tomatoes with their juices
1/3 cup coriander leaves
1/3 cup parsley leaves

Method:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower and saute until golden, 3-4 minutes. Add half the butter, mix well, then add the ginger, onions, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, then add the bell peppers, scallions, and spice mix. Stir in the flour, moisten with orange and lemon juices, then add the chicken stock, tomatoes, and half the lemon zest. Bring to a simmer then transfer to the oven and cook until tender, about 25 minutes.

Just before serving, heat over a medium flame, and swirl in the remaining butter. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and add the coriander leaves and parsley.

Serve cauliflower in wide soup plates with raita in side dish.

Sausage With Lager Sauce And Apple Bouillon

Ingredients for Bouillon:
2 cups apple cider
1/3 cup cider or rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Kosher salt
Pinch cayenne pepper

Method:
Combine all of the ingredients except the salt and cayenne in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. (You are not trying to create a reduction; you simply want to extract flavor.) Strain the bouillon through a sieve lined with a coffee filter, then season with salt and cayenne. Keep warm over very low heat.

Ingredients for Sausage and Onions
8 links Italian sausage
2 cups finely sliced onion
4 cups lager beer
1 tablespoon flour

Method:
Combine the sausages, onions, and 2 cups of the lager in a high-sided skillet. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer until the juices evaporate and pan is dry and the sausages are nicely browned all over. Remove the sausages from the pan and set aside. Stir the flour into the onions, then deglaze with the remaining 2 cups of beer, scraping up any bits sticking to the pan bottom. Simmer the mixture for 2 minutes.

Divide the sausages among four wide soup plates, Top with thickened onion-lager mixture, surround with bouillon and serve.

Petits Pots (Little Cream Pots)

Ingredients:
Vanilla
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean
6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon water

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until the mixture is satiny white. Add milk and cream. Mix well, then scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the mixer and add the water. Mix again and fill six demitasse cups three-fourths full.

Whisk the sugar and egg yolks until satiny. Add the milk and cream then whisk in the espresso. Fill six demitasse cups three-fourths full, then set with the vanilla custards in a roasting pan.

Add enough very hot water to the roasting pan so that it is level with the custard mixture within the cups, then carefully place the uncovered pan in the oven until the custards are very lightly set, about 30 minutes. (It will look a little liquidy, but you can see that the sides are set and the surface has a slight dome.) Remove the pan from the oven and allow the petits pots to cool in the warm water bath for 10 minutes before removing the cups from the roasting pan. Serve chilled or at room temperature plain or with garnish.

Garnish for Vanilla Petit Pot
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons very finely ground toasted almonds (easiest in a spice grinder)

Combine the sugar and ground almonds, sprinkle over the vanilla custards, and serve.
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