I realized the past weekend that I had still to review one of my readings. Indeed, there is the word “books” in the title of this blog, a little space for the books I’m currently reading on the sideline, and the mention “I read a lot” on my about page. But I have yet to review one.
Launching this blog has been a pleasure and I am thankful to all the people that are already following me and who commented (not to mention the awards… more about this in my next post). It’s been almost a month already. How time flies.
So here comes my first review. It’s a cook book I borrowed at the library. I found it original compared to those I already have or read. It’s not entirely cooking techniques, not entirely recipes.
I’m talking about Michael Ruhlman’s Ruhlman’s Twenty – 20 Techniques, 100 Recipes, A Cook’s Manifesto.
As the title indicates, the book is divided into 20 chapters (techniques… yet they are so much more). They are followed by a series of recipes that can have you try the techniques just explained or rather narrated.
Let me explain the paragraph above.
Among the 20 chapters/techniques, we can find “eggs,” “dough,” “sauté,” “vinaigrette” just to name a few. So they are more than just techniques, they relate to a entire cooking chapter. For example, for the chapter about water, Ruhlman doesn’t develop in bullet points how to boil water or to make an ice bath. He takes the time to explain what and how water can help and affect cooking, the different temperatures it needs for different results, the advantages, what to be particularly careful about.
He will tell you how to boil an egg, or more precisely how he boils an egg and why he does it this way. And you will understand because his exposé would have led you to think.
Think is actually the first technique. I found the idea so easy, so evident, yet so essential to remind (ahem).
Think. About what you do, what you add, what you do not add, what you want to end up with. It is evidently a so much better way to learn to cook than to simply follow a bullet-point technique.
I am not a professional cook. I am just an amateur cook that loves to cook. I learned a lot from this book and I didn’t feel the need to follow the book to try his advice. I understood. I remembered. It worked just fine.
The recipes are a mix of classics and original recipes with beautiful pictures. Some techniques are even illustrated from beginning to end. There are several for each chapter, so you can pick and choose.
I’d recommend any amateur cook seriously interested in cooking to read it. And then to think about it :-)
What I liked: the mix of technique and recipes, the teaching approach of having readers understand what’s going on when they are cooking and think about it, beautiful pictures
What I didn’t like: big, heavy book (but it’s really a detail!)
If I really had to rate it…: 8 out of 10