People freak out about gravy. I don’t know why. Gravy is easy as pie. Actually, a hell of a lot easier than pie. All it is, is a delicious, rich stock thickened with flour. In cooking school, they call it velouté, French for velvety. You take a great stock and give it a velvety texture. Flour-thickened sauces got a bad name when bad “French” restaurants served heavy terrible sauces. Properly prepared, flour-thickened sauces are light, flavorful, and refreshing. I prefer them to heavy reductions which, prepared thoughtlessly, are gluey with protein and make the tongue stick to the palate. The key is dispersing the flour uniformly through the sauce. We do this by combining the fat (butter, rendered chicken or turkey fat) so that the granules of flour are each coated with fat to prevent Read On »

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Just the name is inspiring: butter-poached shrimp.  Butter-poached shrimp and grits. Mmmm. Butter-poached lobster, not uncommon in French haute cuisine, was popularized in America by Thomas Keller in The French Laundry Cookbook and at that restaurant. “Lobster loves gentle heat,” he told me then. It’s not much of a leap for the thrifty-minded cook to reason that shrimp, too, love gentle heat. That’s why, in the butter chapter of my new book, I showed how to use butter as a cooking medium (one of the many amazing ways butter can be used as a tool). This dish is absolutely killer. The shrimp stay very tender, rich and tasty with the butter; the grits are then enriched with the shrimp butter. Leftover butter can be used to saute shrimp and garlic for a shrimp stir-fry, use Read On »

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When I introduced our offset basting tasting saucing spoons, we showed clips of my basting roast cauliflower (above, photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman), numerous people asked me how to I cooked the caulflower.  And just today, Ted Allen said in an email he’d roasted plenty of cauliflower but never thought to do it whole, loved the presentation it would make.  Indeed, it can be roasted cut or whole.  Cut cauliflower cooks faster and there’s a lot more surface that gets browned (it’s what I do when I forget to start the whole cauliflower in time).  But cooking it whole is easier, and it looks so cool while it’s roasting and does make a tantalizing presentation at the table.  Either way, roasted cauliflower is a great dish, either as a side dish to a bigger meal Read On »

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Ok, this is it, my last new book: Ruhlman’s Twenty: 20 Techniques, 100 Recipes, a Cook’s Manifesto.” A distillation of all I’ve learned. I’m hoping it’s every bit as fascinating and pompous as my previous book, Ratio. But it’s very different, a big lavish book with great color photography to illustrate the techniques and recipes. Twenty is the exploration of a single idea: that all of cooking can be reduced to a handful of techniques. It’s not as if you have to master a thousand techniques in order to cook well. Or even a hundred. You only need to know about about 20 things (you surely know more already than you think you do). My goal is to explore the basic techniques we need to know to cook everything else. This is all I’ve been Read On »

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OpenSky’s knife sharpener offer to people who follow me there forced me to think about sharp knives (I had to write the copy). Normally, I only think about sharp knives when they aren’t. Here’s the fact: the biggest problem in home kitchens is dull knives. There is no greater hindrance to the person in the house who does the cooking than dull knives. Almost without fail, every friend’s kitchen I go to, there is not a sharp knife to be found. The only kitchens I’ve been in where there are sharp knives, are the big fancy ones where no one cooks. And my mom’s. Because she only uses those crappy ceramic knives, so her nice Wusthofs, used on my once- or twice-a-year visits remain pristine. (OpenSky has a great deal on the higher end Ikon Read On »

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