Books on Cooking

How to Roast

Humankind has been roasting for millennia. The term originally referred to cooking over an open fire, usually on some kind of spit, and has evolved to describe cooking of meat or vegetables or even fruit in an oven, a “dry heat” (and usually high-heat) method of making things irresistibly appetizing.

“Of all our cooking terms,” Ruhlman writes, “sautéed, grilled, poached, broiled-I believe roasted is the most evocative adjective we can attach to our food, conjuring as it does ideas of deep rich flavors and delicious browning.” 

RUHLMAN’S HOW TO ROAST combines practical advice – what tools you need, staple ingredients to have on hand, how to get the most out of your oven – with 20 original and mouthwatering recipes, chosen to showcase a wide range of roasting methods and results, from “The Icon” (roast chicken), to Monkfish Roasted with Tomatoes and Basil, to Roasted Peaches with Mint Crème Fraiche. Dozens of color photographs offer step-by-step illustration as well as finished-dish showpieces.

Egg: A Culinary Exploration of the World’s Most Versatile Ingredient

For culinary visionary Michael Ruhlman, the question is not whether the chicken or the egg came first, it’s how anything could beaccomplished in the kitchen without the magic of the common egg. He starts with perfect poached and scrambled eggs and builds up to brioche and Italian meringue. Along the way readers learn to make their own mayonnaise, pasta, custards, quiches, cakes, and other preparations that rely fundamentally on the hidden powers of the egg.

Ruhlman’s Twenty

All cooking comes down not to recipes but rather to techniques. In Ruhlman’s Twenty, cook, writer, and food authority Michael Ruhlman distills all of cooking into 20 fundamental techniques, illustrated with 100 recipes, and hundreds of instructive photos.

Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking (Hardcover)

“Forget about teaspoons, ounces, cups and (shudder) fractions; it’s all about the “parts.” This is a refreshing, illuminating and perhaps even revolutionary look at the relations that make food work.” —Alton Brown, in The Wall Street Journal

Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn

“One of the most intriguing and important cookbooks to be published this year [2005],” according to Publisher’s Weekly.

The Book of Schmaltz

The Book of Schmaltz explores the wonders of rendered chicken fat, used in traditional Jewish cooking, in both traditional dishes such as kreplach (“Jewish potstickers”) and contemporary dishes, such as Parisienne gnocchi, sauteed in schmaltz and served with wilted spinach and poached egg. It’s a thin book, more than 20 recipes and color photography of each dish, on a fat subject!

The Elements of Cooking: Translating the Chef’s Craft For Every Kitchen

An “indispensable compendium of cooking information for both professional and amateur cooks …. precise, unpretentious, unencumbered” –booklist

Salumi

Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn inspired a revival of artisanal sausage making and bacon curing with their surprise hit, Charcuterie. Now they delve deep into the Italian side of the craft with Salumi, a book that explores and simplifies the recipes and techniques of dry curing meats, with 100 recipes and illustrations of the art of ancient methods made modern and new. 100 illustrations; 16 pages of color photographs.

Books About Chefs and Professional Cooks

The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America

A first-person account of an actual culinary education as it’s taught at the most prominent cooking school in the United States.

The Soul of a Chef: The Pursuit of Perfection

True stories about the life of the professional chef, via three very different American chefs in three very different cooking environments.

The Reach of a Chef: Professional Cooking in the Age of Celebrity

One of the great things chefs are doing is pointing the way toward the foods that matter, that are good for us—naturally raised animals, wild fish, freshly grown produce. That’s a good thing. But chefs are also leaving their kitchens in big numbers, expanding their businesses beyond actually cooking and serving food. They smell the lucre and are looking for its source. Is this good or bad? The best have gotten to where they are by working their butts off for years and now they want some rewards. Nothing wrong with that. But what happens when you abandon the work that made you what you are, and what’s the result for the rest of us?

Cookbook Collaborations

A Return to Cooking with Eric Ripert

A lavish production that’s both a cookbook and the story of a cook who became a chef who longed to become a cook again.

Michael Symon’s Live to Cook by Michael Symon with Michael Ruhlman

The Iron Chef’s debut cookbook features his ingeniously simple, dynamically flavored dishes.

Cookbooks with Thomas Keller and the French Laundry Family

The French Laundry Cookbook

A monster of a celebrity-chef coffee table cookbook that defies everything one thinks of when we think of such objects. The French Laundry Cookbook’s chief importance, though, in my mind is that it is an accurate documentary of one of the country’s great restaurants, how it is run, the food it creates, and the kind of work and intelligence that a chef must bring to the pursuit of an American restaurant that ranks with the great three-star restaurants of Europe.

Bouchon

This cookbook explores classic bistro dishes and what makes them so good, with beautiful photography by Deborah Jones.

Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide

The first cookbook written in English on cooking sous vide, what Harold McGee calls “one of the most important culinary innovations of modern times”.

Ad Hoc at Home

A big book filled with family meals and everyday staples from Keller’s casual Yountville restaurant. The fried chicken recipe is worth the price of the book.

General Nonfiction

House: A Memoir

When my wife and I bought a century old house in a suburb of my beloved city, I knew I had to write about it. The experience of purchasing a home place, among the most common events in an adult’s life, felt more cataclysmic than, well, buying a house ought to feel. Second to childbirth on the seismic charts of human emotion. Suspicious of any prolonged navel-gazing, I didn’t intend a memoir. I began the story as a novel. I sent seventy-five pages to my agent who said, “I can’t sell this as a novel, but I can as a memoir.”

Walk on Water: Inside an Elite Pediatric Surgical Unit

A dramatic narrative of the life of a surgical team specializing in the repair of babies’ and children’s malformed hearts.

Wooden Boats: In Pursuit of the Perfect Craft at an American Boatyard

An intimate chronicle of life at a plank-on-frame boatyard and an exploration of the significance of wooden boats.

Boys Themselves: A Return to Single-Sex Education

A chronicle of one year at a contemporary boys’ school that’s less about gender in schools than it is an old-fashioned school story.