You keep a running list of restaurants you go to for your favourite flavourbombs—a vibrant, pungent Caesar salad, extra crispy garlic fries, or a spicy puttanesca pasta maybe. You might even be able to articulate exactly what it is about those dishes that you find so addictive. But when you try to reproduce the same flavours at home, you find yourself falling short. If any of the above sounds familiar, this book is for you.
For the past 25 years, Bob Blumer has eaten his way around the globe, travelling millions of miles in search of culinary adventures and inspiring foods for three TV series and six cookbooks. Along the way, he’s broken eight food-related Guinness World Records, competed in some of the most outrageous food competitions on the planet, cooked alongside countless amazing chefs, and sampled every local street food imaginable at ramshackle carts, hawker stalls, and night markets from Italy to India.
These collective experiences have formed the backbone of Bob’s cooking in ways that culinary school can’t begin to teach. In Flavorbomb he channels everything he has gleaned into recipes and practical tips to help you create bold, stimulating flavours, that will leave those you cook for in a state of bliss. Prepare to become a rock star in your own kitchen.
The first half of the book is the real “money.” It’s full of tips, strategies, ingredients, techniques, and gear that will help you crack the code—and gain the confidence to take the leap on your own and turn any dish into a flavourbomb. We’re talking about developing the courage to season with wild abandon, brown your food to within an inch of its life, double down on the ingredients that can increase the pleasure factor, and taste and adjust on the fly.
The second half consists of 75 step-by-step recipes that use all the tricks in your arsenal to deliver the addictive, life-affirming dishes we all crave. And because Bob gets more excited by tacos than truffles, his outsider approach to creating addictive flavours won’t require you to buy frivolous top-shelf ingredients or use super-sophisticated techniques. Instead, every recipe starts by building the foundation and then adding layers of flavours and textures at every step of the way. If there’s a hack or a simple trick that can save you time or up the ante–it’s in here. Every recipe was thoroughly tested and had to earn its place in the book.
Classic French Onion Soup
If gazpacho is the most bastardized summer soup, French onion soup au gratin takes the winter prize. Sadly, so many restaurants don’t take the time to fully caramelize the onions, make the rich broth, add quality booze, or splurge on the right cheese that wraps its loving arms around this bistro classic in a warm embrace.
The ooey-gooey, deeply flavoured French onion soup of your dreams is easily achievable at home, as long as you start with a rich stock (either homemade or store-bought), quality cheese, and the secret ingredient—patience.
90 minutes + extra if you make homemade stock
Makes 4 generous servings
The backbone of a Loire Valley Cabernet Franc has the strictness and minerality to discipline the rich, gooey, umami-ness of the soup
1½ Tbsp butter + extra for buttering bread
1½ Tbsp olive oil
3 large yellow onions, halved and sliced
8 sprigs thyme, stemmed + more whole sprigs for garnish
1 tsp salt
¾ cup white wine
2 ounces brandy
6 cups intense (undiluted) homemade chicken stock (page 251), or the best available store-bought chicken or beef stock
4 thick slices very stale rustic country loaf or sourdough baguette (if the bread isn’t stale, place in a 200°F oven for 15 minutes)
1 garlic clove
6 ounces Gruyère or Comté cheese
4 Tbsp freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
To a large pot over medium-high heat, add the butter, olive oil, onions, thyme, and salt. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Remove the lid, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for about 45 minutes, or until the onions are a deep golden brown, stirring and scraping the bottom occasionally—and if necessary, using a splash of water to deglaze the pan and get all the bits off the bottom.
Add the wine and brandy and stir for 1 minute. Add the stock, bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Preheat the broiler. Trim bread so that it just fits in your serving bowl, then toast it until it is nicely browned. Rub the bread with garlic, then butter lightly.
Transfer the soup to individual ovenproof bowls. Top with the bread, and sprinkle generously with Gruyère, then the Parmigiano. Top with a sprig of thyme. Set under the broiler for 5 watchful minutes, or until the cheese and bread are browned to within an inch of their lives.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Appetite Books, Flavorbomb / copyright 2020 Bob Blumer.