Recipes are organized as a gradient, from white to black, with every color in between. Each recipe aims to “show you how to make food that radiates a particular hue in all its glory.”
Seasonality, technique and plating guide the thought processes behind her creations. Produce is most vibrant, flavorfuland nutritious picked fresh from the field. The cooking method you choose can determine the brightness of a stalk of asparagus, or brownness of an onion slice. An ivory platter can provide a matte border to accentuate the golden shades of Lemon Turmeric Cake with Mango Blossom, or the purple skins of Sweet-and-Sour Eggplant, Sichuan-Style.
Cooking within a single color scheme can lead us to unfamiliar ingredients and exciting new flavor combinations we wouldn’t have discovered otherwise: Pavlova with Vanilla Cream, White Dragon Fruit, and Nectarines; Apple-Fennel Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachio Pesto; Sungold Tomato Gazpacho ; Blueberry Branzino; Black Tahini Cookies.
In the back, Zizka offers ideas for creating color-focused menus to honor a nationality, celebrate a sports team victory, play up a holiday theme, or reinforce a chosen palette for a wedding.
One ingredient absent from these pages, though, is artificial food coloring. As Zizka makes clear, “There’s no need, when beets are already a rich magenta and purple potatoes look like the starry midnight sky.”
Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at susanpuckett.com.
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