Short version: I ask you, cherished reader, what book would you like me to write next?
Update, 5/9, 8 p.m.: A winner has been chosen using randomizer: Aaron Weiss, a journalist and TV news director in Sioux City, Iowa. Thanks for commenting, Aaron, and for cooking with your family! Thank you everyone. Frankly, I was astonished by all the ideas and fascinated by the patterns. Still making my way through the nearly 500 comments.
My favorite suggestion, got filtered out due to a spam issue, from regular reader and commenter, Bob Tenaglio:
I’d call the book “Time; The Secret Ingredient You’ll Never See On Iron Chef,” and it would delve into dry-aged meat, fermentation, enzymatic transformation, what constitutes “freshness” and “rot,” the role of rigor mortis in meats and seafood, "low and slow," development of flavors.
...and now back to the original post...
Complete version, or here's what happened Thursday at Bar Boulud, my favorite culinary landing pad when touching down in NYC. I was there to meet with my editor, Michael Sand, of Little, Brown, which will be publishing The Book of Schmaltz in August, and in the spring, my innovative exploration of the kitchen's most versatile ingredient. These were the known factors when I decided to hook up with this venerable publisher.
This, too, was known: I would also write four shorter, single-subject cookbooks. And this was the main topic as Sand and I munched through salads and jambon beurre and a taste of boudins noir et blanc (exquisite, all). What should those books be?
Ruhlman Singles will be about one-third the length of a traditional cookbook. Like The Book of Schmaltz: Love Song to a Forgotten Fat, they will comprise 20 or so recipes, but recipes that might be short master classes on a specific idea and technique within that broader subject. In the Single for Roast, for instance, there would be a high-heat roast technique and recipe, a low, slow roast technique and recipe, a pan roast, etc., and it would explore all the finesse points, the techniques that take a dish from good to aaaawesome, recipes that gave my prose room to spread out, in a format that would allow photos of each dish and as many process shots as we feel needed. (Can't tell you how many of you have thanked me, or Donna and me rather, for making you feel comfortable in the kitchen because of the process shots.)
The world doesn't need more recipes, it needs more technique, and home cooks need more confidence and encouragement in the kitchen. (Because you're not too stupid to cook, even though Kraft wants you to think you are.)
Sand and I mulled: should they be basic technique books, like roast? Or ones more suited to the ambitious home cook, like sous vide or fermentation (cooking with bugs!), or cooking with actual bugs, grasshoppers, and whatnot?! (As that's Andrew Zimmern territory, I'll probably stay out of the latter.)
Then Sand said: "Why don't you ask your readers. What do they want?"
Well? I'd love to hear from you! I have a list of ten or so ideas already. But take a moment to tell me: if you could choose one subject for me to write and think about, to cook through and photograph, what would it be? As an enticement, I'm giving away to one of you, chosen by randomizer on Thursday, a signed and personalized copy of Ruhlman's Twenty: Twenty Techniques, 100 Recipes, a Cook's Manifesto, and two—yes TWO!—Spankettes, the middle-sized wooden spoon that is one of my most cherished and valuable tools in the kitchen. While the winner has to be chosen at random and live in the U.S. (postage issue, sorry Canada, England, Australia, India!), if I write about what you wanted me to write about, I will be eager to acknowledge and thank you by name (if you wish) in the book.
So, I ask you, with deep thanks for even clicking on this page, tell me, what should the next book be? I shall return to Sand today the revised manuscript on the world's most versatile culinary ingredient, and photography will wrap up soon. What should I write about next?
If you liked this post, take a look at these links:
- Cook your own food. Eat what you want. Think for yourself.
- My recent posts on How to Cook Morels and the Final Word on Battle of the Spoons.
- Mac Dalton and I have created not only killer wood spoons, but a number of unique kitchen tools—full catalogue here.
- This coconut tres leches cake recipe from CHOW is pretty awesome.
- The LA Times introduces us to the cocktail called the American Poet.
© 2013 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2013 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.