A year ago, my neighbor, Lois Baron, said she had to leave a party early to make schmaltz, as the High Holy days of the Jewish year approached and she was the cook in the family. Long having wanted to explore this oft-maligned fat, I asked for Lois’s help in understanding its history and use. (Almost everyone refers to it as “heart attack food,” but it’s not. It’s good for you! In moderation. Lois is in her 70s and cooks like a banshee, her husband Russell is in his 80s and still practices law, and Lois’s mom cooked schmaltz well into her 90s, though she wouldn’t admit it.) Schmaltz, rendered chicken fat flavored with onion, was such an odd topic, and so focused, it didn’t seem like a big-book idea, so Donna encouraged me to Read On »

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Was it two years ago? Three? Donna and I had people over on New Year’s Day and an old high school friend, Mac Dalton, said, “Michael, I gotta show you what I do. I make things. What do you want to make?” “This,” I said, standing at my stove, and held up a spoon I’d awkwardly bent for basting. “I can make that,” he said. And he did. Chef Jonathon Sawyer of The Greenhouse Tavern picked it this year as one of his holiday gift ideas for Food & Wine. I love these spoons. They’re elegant just to have in your hand. We immediately started to make more useful kitchen tools. Here’s our whole catalogue, available on my site. Another thing happened. I’d partnered with OpenSky, an Internet commerce site that finds really cool products, sends Read On »

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FINALLY!!! Ruhlman’s Twenty is back in full stock. The first 25,000 sold out within a few months of publication, so fast that Chronicle Books couldn’t push the reprint button fast enough. This delay, followed by a printing error, has kept the book unavailable for four months now! Killing me! But now it’s back in full force with one difference. People have begun to use it, and tweet successes, and facebook it. From Martha (on whom I developed immediate crush) to the Chicago Tribune to the LATimes, the reviews have been resounding. Here are some from amazon: The best review, was the very first, a video review by a woman named Becky, whom I don’t know but would very much like to meet! Others have written: I am a big fan of his books and his blog. Time and Read On »

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I did two promotional videos for my new book, one a general description of the book (love that that one has a shot of Donna photographing, and one about an idea I thought people might call me out on. Even my recipe tester/organizer/overseer, Marlene Newell, had issues with this. Can food be a technique? I say it can. A technique is an action that has multiple applications. So while yes, an egg is an egg, it’s also an emulsifier, a leavener, a binder, and enricher. Therefore using an egg can be considered a core cooking technique. Knowing how to use salt, is one of the chef’s greatest assets. Learning how to think about these foods as tools makes you a better cook. Disagree? I’ve heard some gripes but nothing substantial. I’d love to read comments. Read On »

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Two years ago, Donna made a calendar of some of her favorite food shots. Last year she didn’t and several people complained. So this year she made one using some of her favorite shots from Ruhlman’s Twenty. I linked each one to one of the twenty techniques and also add some words about the technique and about the dish featured. The dates page includes process shots of the dish where there’s room. They’re printed on demand and shipped by Apple, so they’re a little on the pricey side. Sorry, but unless we wanted to print 10,000 of them they are what they are, $38 delivered. If you would like a copy of Donna’s Ruhlman’s Twenty Calendar, it works like her ratio chart. Here’s what to do: Go to paypal.com, an excellent and secure way to Read On »

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