I have a nasty cookbook buying habit. Okay, it’s not just cookbooks, it’s food writing in general. Academic, popular, trade-oriented: I read whatever falls into my hands. To keep myself out of the poorhouse, used bookstores are my main book-shopping outlet, and I save my new-book cash for “important” hardcover expenditures….or I buy paperbacks. Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio was released in paperback this September, and I (finally) picked up a copy this week.
If you’re just learning to cook, or trying to develop improvisational skills in the kitchen, Ratio is an ideal read. Ruhlman provides basic formulae for doughs, batters, custards, sausages, pates, then suggests a variety of riffs, encouraging the cook to explore flavor and texture. He doesn’t get bogged down in the science, yet he manages to convey precisely the essential elements required to make an item work. His clear prose has me itching to make homemade ravioli filled with a seafood mousseline, or maybe a series of quiches or some breakfast sausage….
Ratio would make a great Christmas gift for the budding kitchen enthusiast, along with Joy of Cooking, Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food, and Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice. These four books are sure to fascinate and inspire anyone who enjoys spending time in the kitchen.
Tomorrow: more cookbooks….