One of hard things about writing books is that they are in constant flux and then they are permanent. Thanks to the organic nature of blogs, I can make amends. When I was at the Culinary Institute of America, one of my best and favorite teachers was Eve Felder, who taught Garde Manger. She was the Cheshire Cat of chefs, perched high on stacked stools, who taught us that “Cooking is alchemy, cooking is magic!” And she was right. Righter than I knew, in fact. I’m heading to her native city, Charleston, South Carolina, and so she’s been on my mind. When I wanted to do a butter-poached shrimp for Ruhlman’s Twenty, I naturally wanted to pair it with grits. Who did I call for grits finesse points? Chef Felder. In the editing process of 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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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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Martha actually laughs! I was on The Martha Stewart Show, taped Monday in front of a crazily exuberant audience, on behalf of the new book, Twenty, and I saw it myself. Lord knows what we were laughing about. I haven’t a clue. You go kind of senseless when you’re not in front of Martha every day and there she is—felt exactly like jumping out of an airplane for the first time. But one of the things I’ve always admired about her show is there’s none of that forced cheer and goofy laughter. So when she laughs it’s real and affecting. I’ve done my share of TV but have never, ever been nervous. I was so nervous that morning. I brought three shirts and a valium. When I walked into the studio, Martha was in her office Read On »

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