“This book will make you a better cook.” Yep, that’s what it says, right on the back. Who can resist such a challenge? It also says that it is not a collection of “tips and tricks.” Why do they think we don’t want tricks? Who doesn’t love a good trick, especially in the kitchen? I’m not above that, are you? There is also a quote from Martha Stewart on the back that simply says “I love this book” that I like to imagine her saying through teeth clenched in envy. Because a book like this kind of makes suggesting that grown ups fabricate teeny tiny snowmen out of gum drops sort of…I don’t know…ridiculous.
I really like and respect Michael Ruhlman as a chef and writer despite the fact that I just could not finish The Making of a Chef. (I get it: the instructors are mean and people cut their fingers. A lot). Although I’ve never read Ratio, I love the idea of it. Which is: if you understand the “secret codes” behind recipes you will be forever free of them (recipes, that is). Which is a pretty radical manifesto coming from someone who also writes cookbooks.
In this book Ruhlman presents 20 things to understand when cooking, in the following order: 1. Think, 2. Salt, 3. Water, 4. Onion, 5. Acid, 6. Egg, 7. Butter, 8. Dough, 9. Batter, 10. Sugar, 11. Sauce, 12. Vinaigrette, 13. Soup, 14. Saute, 15. Roast, 16. Braise, 17. Poach, 18. Grill, 19. Fry, and 20. Chill. I have made at least one recipe from every category so…let’s go!