When I saw Ruhlman's Twenty being offered through my book club last month, I had to wonder if I really wanted this book. In my house over 1000 cookbooks reside, taking up space, filling bookcases, spilling out everywhere, so I am getting really picky about what I bring in the house. could this book be something I wanted or needed? I am considered a good cook, I've read Pepin's La Technique and La Methode, would Ruhlman's Twenty actually bring something new to the table? Ha!
I'm such a huge fan of Ratio I decided to give Twenty a chance. It's a big beautiful cookbook and the first thing I noticed was the pictures! Beautiful, in focus, of the food, and the techniques being described. For example, there is a recipe for candied orange peel, the recipe is on one page, and on the facing page are pictures showing the four stages and how it should look at each stage. For someone like me who prefers visual learning this is amazingly helpful. Making mayo? there are two pages showing the emulsifying steps using a hand whisk or an immersion blender ( a trick I actually found in Ratio, and went from broken mayonnaise to beautiful lush mayo just using his technique and recipe)
At first I felt a little cheated, The first chapter is "thinking" Really? thinking as a technique? But then I read what he had to say. In 30 years of cooking I cannot tell you how many times I've boiled over milk while getting it to boil for a recipe, and never once did it occur to me that I had just changed the liquid ratio by how much I lost in the boil over- and then blamed the recipe for it not turning out right. Maybe it's intuitive to other people, but that really drove home why he had a chapter on thinking, and I got over the eye rolling first impulse I had "be one with the sauce, visualize the roasted chicken" and realized this is good stuff.
A lot of the recipes will become staples, and while he gives great techniques nothing here is especially frou frou, this is not only a book that can teach, but it's one that after you learn the technique the recipes are delicious and great for cooking from again and again.
There is a lot to learn, it's really not all been said or done before, or maybe it's just how Ruhlman presents the information, so clear and easy to understand.. The candied orange peel was delicious! As was the roasted cauliflower with brown butter, Halibut poached in olive oil, and the to die for French onion soup. I can't wait to make more recipes and I have pictures and well laid out recipes to help me learn something new, even after 30 years of cooking