Have you ever longed to be one of those intuitive cooks, who seem to be gifted with an instinct for making magic in the kitchen? The secret is in the science.
RATIO by Michael Ruhlman
Ratio is a unique cookbook. I know the word “unique” is seriously overused, but you’ve never seen a cookbook quite like this one.
No foodporn-mag color pictures here, but a must-know fundamentals of cooking techniques, the magic formulas for cooking just about anything, a variety of easy professional recipes to help you fake your way to chef-like stature among your friends – plus a good dash of acerbic humor.
Ratio is a cookery-geekery textbook as much as a recipe book, but you’ll be tempted to read bits aloud to whoever shares your kitchen, just the share the sheer cleverness of it all.
It’s the ideal gift book for anyone who geeks out over food. Or for those of us who simply like to (a) eat and (b) know how stuff works.
1-2-3 Cookie Dough
Craving a simple sweet cookie? It’s as easy as 1-2-3.
That is – 1 part sugar, 2 parts fat, and 3 parts flour.
Rev up the basic formula with lemon zest and poppy seeds, or melted chocolate, or peanut butter, or the bittersweet flavor of almonds. Sub in brown sugar for white, or vegetable shortening for butter. Add an egg for a softer cookie, or ramp up the sugar to get a more crisp cookie, whatever suits your tastes.
The variations are endless, once you know the ratio…
The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking
Author Michael Ruhlman was introduced to the wonderful concept of ratio in cooking by Uwe Hestnar of the Culinary Institute of America, when the author interviewed the German food master for The Making of a Chef, one of Ruhlman’s many other books.
I was introduced to Ratio by my cousin Paul.
Paul is a former teacher and now a professional chef, as passionate about good food as any celebrity chef – but with much more G-rated language than some of them! – who is determined to make a good cook of me.
Our phone conversations always follow the same formula: First, a few minutes of exchanging family news, then we’re in for an hour of foodie talk. I’m a ginger freak, he’s into cardomom; I love green vegetables and savouries, he’s a master of sweets and preserves. I am sure that I gain 5 pounds just talking to him on the phone… and we do fight a bit… but the humdrum chore of preparing those family meals day after day is suddenly a culinary adventure for me again, after we’ve had one of our foodie chats.
Anyway, it was Paul, my kitchen muse, who gave me a copy of Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking, the one cookbook above all others that taught me how to really cook and bake.
- Stretch a favorite recipe – size it up to feed a crowd, or shrink a “serves 8 people” dish down to solo size.
- Experiment fearlessly in the kitchen and bring back the fun to food preparation.
- Substitute ingredients with confidence, because you now understand the function of each element in a recipe.
When you understand the science of cooking, it’s like having a secret super power. Set yourself free from pre-packaged mixes, and impress your family and friends by whipping up a batch of perfect biscuits without dropping a beat in the conversation. Stock becomes your stock in trade, and roux is a mystery no more.
Plus, you get to feel like a kid going wild in the science lab. What more could a foodie geek ask for?