Cuyahoga River

Cuyahoga River
Cuyahoga River in the Valley

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cooking with Michael Ruhlman

 The Elements of Cooking is a narrative about translating the Chef’s Craft for Every Kitchen (the subtitle). In Anthony Bourdain’s introduction, he says “It’s useful these days when everyone, it seems, has an opinion about food, to know what the hell you’re talking about.” Bourdain pays Ruhlman a great compliment when he goes on to write “It’s all here. In much the same way as Strunk and White’s classic, The Elements of Style, became an essential reference text on every writer and journalist’s desk, The Elements of Cooking should sit atop every refrigerator.” Sort of. Most people don’t create their own recipes, and that’s what you have to do if you use this book. Ruhlman dives right in with “Notes on Cooking: From Stock to Finesse” and gives us an entire chapter on stock. You need the foundation of a good stock and nothing is better than your own stock that you always have on hand so you can create beautiful food. For stock you need good fresh ingredients (meaty bones that have been roasted) and very low heat (below a simmer). Use some herbs, carrots, and onions for flavor. The best and most versatile stock is veal, which I will never make, but Ruhlman reflects on it and even includes a recipe for a good veal stock. If I owned my own restaurant or cooked nightly for lots of people, I might have my own stock because I like the idea of starting with the basics. I take note that Ruhlman also suggests reading The French Laundry Cookbook and The Zuni CafĂ© Cookbook. Thank you, Michael.  But he says “On Food and Cooking: the Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee is “the most important book about food and cooking ever written, probably in any language, probably that ever will be, at least in my lifetime.”  In reviewing this book, I see how helpful Ruhlman’s book is. He really did try to cover it all--and I've ordered a copy for my kitchen.

 

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