One of the many hats I wear is as a recipe tester for Michael Ruhlman on his last couple of books, first Ratio and now the upcoming Ruhlman’s Twenty. Throughout the testing process, hosted by the inimitable Marlene at Cook’s Korner, I got to see a number of the recipes in the book, but by no means all of them – and almost none of the supporting text. So it’s always exciting to see the final product, and how the various recipes I’ve tried out and commented on are brought together into a cohesive whole.
My copy of the book arrived last Tuesday (thank you, Michael!), and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying it. Although I was involved in a small way in the making of the book, I have no stake in it now, except as a fan. It’s built around 20 ideas intended to help you become better, more efficient, and more independent in the kitchen. Some of them, like “Onion” are appreciations of wonderfully versatile ingredients, while others, like “Poach,” are more technique-driven. My favourite so far is “Think,” which is something we all forget to do sometimes when cooking.
This is not to say there are no points I disagree with. For example, in the chapter on “Water,” he talks about water’s role in flavour extraction, and observes that oil doesn’t extract flavours like water does. This may be true in a limited sense, but oil can also act as a powerful vehicle for flavour extraction in its own right. Hence the plethora of infused oils on the market, from lemon to garlic to chilli to truffle. But these are minor, technical quibbles compared to the book’s many strengths, and I wouldn’t want them to stop anyone from making good use of it.
Ruhlman’s Twenty is already available for order through Amazon in Canada, and will be released in the US on Sept. 14.