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Ruhlman's Twenty: 20 Techniques 100 Recipes A Cook's Manifesto Hardcover – September 14, 2011
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"A naturally curious and intelligent cook, Michael has amassed a vast amount of culinary knowledge through his many years being around and writing about food. In his newest book Ruhlman's Twenty he has distilled everything down to the most essential 20 techniques that will help build solid skills and a positive outlook in the kitchen. It is a great resource."
-Thomas Keller, chef/owner of The French Laundry
"I'm not sure if Michael Ruhlman is a great writer who cooks or a great cook who writes, but either way he always manages to make my favorite thing: good sense. With Ruhlman's Twenty he makes sense of just about anything and everything that can happen in a kitchen by boiling it all down to twenty elemental concepts, stunningly presented in concise and useful clarity."
-Alton Brown, host of Good Eats and author of I'm Just Here for the Food
"There is something smart, useful and important to learn from each remarkable chapter of Ruhlman's Twenty. Whether you've cooked all your life or you've just come into the kitchen, you're bound to be changed by this book."
-Dorie Greenspan, author of Around My French Table
James Beard Foundation 2012 Book Awards winner, General Cooking category
International Association of Culinary Professionals' 2012 Cookbook Awards winner, Food and Beverage Reference/Technical category
About the Author
Michael Ruhlman is the author of Ratio, The Soul of a Chef, The Making of a Chef, Charcuterie, and, with, Thomas Keller, The French Laundry Cookbook. He lives in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
Photographer Donna Turner Ruhlman lives in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
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It really has changed our lives, including both how we eat and how we survive as parents of young children. Sometimes we feed the kids early, then put them to bed so we can have a glass of wine, cook together, and catch up with each other. Ruhlman described near the Bacon Arugula Salad recipe how cooking together strengthens relationships, and I have to agree. I love the nights we stay in and try a new recipe or revisit a favorite one.
There are still some recipes that we haven't tried in the book, but others we use weekly or seasonally. Some of them are a little more involved (fried chicken and pan fried pork chops which both require brining), while other things we've picked up from that book are so simple yet so profound. Like how to scramble eggs. It's just a small change or two, but the result is astounding. Roast chicken. Who knew it could be so easy to cook a chicken and then come up with a delicious pan sauce for that chicken? We make it weekly. The coq au vin is "my" recipe that I like making, and while it feels fancy, it's actually quite simple and doesn't create a ton of dishes for me to clean up after. That is a WIN in my book.
The ONLY thing I haven't been extremely impressed with are some of the baking recipes. Cakes, cookies, etc. I've only tried a few of the recipes, and while they aren't bad, I prefer to find those types of recipes elsewhere.
The pizza was brilliant, even though I managed to overcook it a bit at all possible stages. I am hankering to make it again. Both the pizza itself and the crust are dead easy, and taste wonderful! The crust is crisp, but not at all like a cracker; I have some in the fridge to make tomorrow, because as written, it only takes 3 hours- that's great! but doesn't leave time for the dough to ferment. It'll be interesting to taste how it is after fermenting for a couple of days in the fridge. For the pizza as a whole, the balance of cheese, bacon, and eggs is just perfect and very crave-able.
The lemon confit was really easy to make, too. I can't use it yet because it requires 3 months curing, but it worked well. I've done 2 jars: one is conventional lemons, and the other is Meyer lemons. The recipe calls for 2 pounds of salt and one of sugar for 5 lemons; that seems excessive, since mine are going well with 9-10 lemons and 3/8ths the amount of sugar, salt and water.
The roasted shallots are like candy; I could eat them all day, but heroically refrained because I need some for the coq au vin, which we just ate and which is rich and flavorful and amazing. It did take me closer to 2 hours than 1 hour to make it, but it's so worth it; it's the best coq au vin I've ever made.
But- I didn't buy this just for the recipes. I really love Ruhlman's thoughtful approach to cooking, and the text parts are what I am valuing as I'm reading this. It is not a book of recipes; it's a considered approach about HOW to cook. If you like Cook's Illustrated, Ruhlman is definitely someone to read.
My only quibble: more and more, ambitious cookbooks seem to be vying for coffee-table-book status: they are getting huge and heavy and unwieldy. This makes them harder to read- and this one needs to be read- and harder to cook from. I do not care for this trend.
Still- I'm about a third of the way through reading it (albeit with difficulty), and have learned a lot from the text- and the recipes I've tried have been spot-on, and I want to make them all again soon.
Edited to add: This book is a game-changer. I have been a really competent and skillful home cook for years now. These recipes rev it up at least an order of magnitude. While most restaurants cannot out-cook me at my previous level- I really doubt that much of ANYONE could outcook these. Totally BRILLIANT.
Another addition: I have just made the French onion soup. WOW. It is delicious and brilliant, though i wish he'd warned me that caramelizing 8+ pounds of onions would take not just "hours" but 10 or so hours! It's very worth it, though; I adore caramelized onions, and this soup emphasizes them. I do recommend adding the optional wine vinegar at the end; the brightness accents the sweetness of the onions.
I look forward to trying more recipes from this! Both the recipes and the text are making me a more thoughtful and knowlegable cook.
Addendum: Several months after writing this, it has become one of my favorite cookbooks. The pizza with bacon and eggs is one of my favorite recipes ever- and the pizza crust is excellent for a basic NY-style pizza as well (Ruhlman also has an excellent simple tomato sauce that works great for this, as well as for a simple pasta).
My husband and I just enjoyed the simple Coq au Vin for probably the third time- it's pretty easy, and tastes gorgeous. The sauteed mushrooms are simple but utterly perfect. I've only made a smattering of the recipes, but every single one of them has been perfect! and the text is thoughtful and helpful when one wants to understand coking, and not just follow recipes.
This is the only book that i bought not only in dead-tree, but also for my Kindle-and I don't regret that redundancy.
VERY recommended for a thoughtful or ambitious cook.
I would recommend this to someone starting out and to someone who with years of experience.