The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking

Book - 2009
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Michael Ruhlman's groundbreaking New York Times bestseller takes us to the very "truth" of cooking: it is not about recipes but rather about basic ratios and fundamental techniques that makes all food come together, simply.

When you know a culinary ratio, it's not like knowing a single recipe, it's instantly knowing a thousand.

Why spend time sorting through the millions of cookie recipes available in books, magazines, and on the Internet? Isn't it easier just to remember 1-2-3? That's the ratio of ingredients that always make a basic, delicious cookie dough: 1 part sugar, 2 parts fat, and 3 parts flour. From there, add anything you want--chocolate, lemon and orange zest, nuts, poppy seeds, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, almond extract, or peanut butter, to name a few favorite additions. Replace white sugar with brown for a darker, chewier cookie. Add baking powder and/or eggs for a lighter, airier texture.

Ratios are the starting point from which a thousand variations begin.

Ratios are the simple proportions of one ingredient to another. Biscuit dough is 3:1:2--or 3 parts flour, 1 part fat, and 2 parts liquid. This ratio is the beginning of many variations, and because the biscuit takes sweet and savory flavors with equal grace, you can top it with whipped cream and strawberries or sausage gravy. Vinaigrette is 3:1, or 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar, and is one of the most useful sauces imaginable, giving everything from grilled meats and fish to steamed vegetables or lettuces intense flavor.

Cooking with ratios will unchain you from recipes and set you free. With thirty-three ratios and suggestions for enticing variations, Ratio is the truth of cooking: basic preparations that teach us how the fundamental ingredients of the kitchen--water, flour, butter and oils, milk and cream, and eggs--work. Change the ratio and bread dough becomes pasta dough, cakes become muffins become popovers become crepes.

As the culinary world fills up with overly complicated recipes and never-ending ingredient lists, Michael Ruhlman blasts through the surplus of information and delivers this innovative, straightforward book that cuts to the core of cooking. Ratio provides one of the greatest kitchen lessons there is--and it makes the cooking easier and more satisfying than ever.
Publisher: New York, NY : Scribner, 2009.
Edition: 1st Scribner hardcover ed.
ISBN: 9781416566113
Branch Call Number: 641.5
Characteristics: xxv, 244 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.


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AntheaB Mar 23, 2017

This book has turned my father into a baking machine! I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes to experiment in the kitchen.


Get out your kitchen scale! This book gives you the simple keys to making homemade bread, pasta, mayonnaise, biscuits and more—common staples that depend on the balance of a few key ingredients to work. Ratio is also available as an app: plug in the amount of ingredients you want to use or the yield you need, and it gives you amounts in the unit you prefer. http://ruhlman.com/apps/

ksoles May 19, 2011

Very rarely do I find a cookbook that I think could replace all my others and, while Michael Ruhlman's Ratio doesn't quite make me want to purge my culinary reference collection, it certainly makes me consider doing so. By way of thirty-three ratios and suggestions for variations, Ruhlman teaches cooks how fundamental ingredients (water, flour, butter and oils, milk and cream, and eggs) work together. Change the ratio and bread dough becomes pasta dough, cakes become muffins and pancakes become crepes.

I think this passage sums up the essence of the entire book: "Batters are almost incestuously linked to one another and show an exceptionally delicate balance between one another. The loosest of the batters is crepe, and we move up with increasing proportions of flour to popover, pancake and fritter, muffin, cake, and so on in potentially infinite variations until you hit the point of the fulcrum and tip over into dough: pasta, pie crust, cookie, and bread...I think that people who are gifted pastry chefs have simply seen the crepe-bread continuum more clearly for longer, rather than seeing crepe equaling one set of instructions, bread another, and so have been able to improvise; they understand how small adjustments in fat, flour, egg, and sugar can result in satisfying nuances of lightness and delicacy or richness in flavor and texture. It's all one thing."

I borrowed Ratio from the library and will be making copious notes before I return it. The only reason I wouldn't purchase the book is that its large middle section provides ratios for stocks, forcemeats (sausage etc), mousselines (meat/cream/egg fillings) and fat-based sauces - nothing I'd realistically be producing in my kitchen! Really, it's the baking section that interests me but I do believe that you'll soon be able to pick out the serious cook in the crowd based on who has a stained copy of Ratio close at hand.

Apr 02, 2011

This is an amazing book that breaks down cooking to the chemical ratios. Because as the author says, once you master the ratios, you can cook anything. A must read for the home cook who wants to experiment.

Tyler_FPL Mar 29, 2011

Ruhlman gives the basic building blocks for recipes and encourages the home cook to be creative once the basic elements of a dish are mastered.

Very interesting and particularly helpful for breads and doughs.

This book is a great kitchen reference book to help pefect the craft as opposed to offering full and complete menu items.

note: the ratios in this book are based on weight, not volume, so a digital scale is highly recommended.

JCLHelenH Jan 13, 2011

As a public librarian, I don't purchase books unless I want to keep then around as a reference. This is a rare book that I plan to purchase. It explains the very basic recipes and suggests that you try them so you can see, for example, what a very basic cookie looks like. It took me three tries and was an incredibly helpful exercise. Try it!


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