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Rare is the cookbook that redefines how we cook. And rare is the author who can do so with the ease and expertise of acclaimed writer and culinary authority Michael Ruhlman. Twenty distills Ruhlman’s decades of cooking, writing, and working with the world’s greatest chefs into twenty essential ideas--from ingredients to processes to attitude--that are guaranteed to make every cook more accomplished. Whether cooking a multi-course meal, the juiciest roast chicken, or just some really good scrambled eggs, Ruhlman reveals how a cook’s success boils down to the same twenty concepts. With the illuminating expertise that has made him one of the most esteemed food journalists, Ruhlman explains the hows and whys of each concept and reinforces those discoveries through 100 recipes for everything from soups to desserts, all detailed in over 300 photographs. More...
An Excerpt from the Introduction by Michael Ruhlman:
This is a book about fundamental techniques for today's kitchen. It is also a book with reci-pes. Foremost, it is a book about thinking about food. All cooking rests on a set of fundamental techniques. If you know those fundamentals, there's very little you won't be able to do in the kitchen. Happily, there aren't a thousand of them. There aren't even a hundred. I've created a list of the twenty basics you need to know in order to do all the rest.
The goals of Twenty are straightforward. 1) To identify and describe the fundamental techniques that all cooks, regardless of their skill or station, need and use. 2) To describe the techniques with the intent of getting at their nuances, how the techniques work, why they matter, the mechanisms that make them so pervasive and useful. 3) To photograph the techniques in a way that furthers an understanding of what they are and how and why they work. 4) To create recipes that show-case and provide practical applications for these far-reaching fundamentals.
When you look at the list of my techniques, you'll notice that some appear to be ingredients rather than techniques. While they are ingredients, they are also tools, and the best tools have multiple uses. Using these tools—salt, water, acid, onion, egg, butter, flour, sugar—is technique. Each of these enti¬ties has multiple uses. Understanding all the uses of a single ingredient is like pumping steroids into your cooking muscles.
Other sections are about working with fluid flavors: sauces and soups and flavorful elixirs.
The finale of the book is defined by heat: applying heat to food, knowing what kind of heat to apply to what kind of food, for how long, and then, often, removing that heat.
These twenty are my attempt to orga-nize and describe the fundamentals of cook-ing for the contemporary home kitchen. They begin where cooking begins, with thinking.
Makes 2 to 2 1/2 Pounds/1 to 1.25 Kilograms Cured Salmon
I'm not a big fan of cooked salmon, but I adore cured salmon for its deep flavor and dense texture. It's easier to make than bacon, and salmon is easier to find than fresh pork belly! I like the freshness that citrus zest brings to the salmon, but once you've got a sense of how curing salmon works, you can add different flavors,
such as fennel or dill, and change the sugar to brown sugar or honey.
Cured salmon is best sliced so thinly that it's translucent. If you find this difficult, it can be diced or finely chopped.
One side of salmon will be enough to create hors d'oeuvres for 15 to 20 people, or an appetizer or first course for 8 to 10. For an easy canape, mix some minced red onion or Macerated Shallots into creme fraiche, spread it on a crouton, top it with a slice of salmon, and garnish with chives or a little grated lemon zest. Of course,
it's also awesome on a bagel with cream cheese.
1 cup/225 grams kosher salt
1/2 cup/100 grams sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoon grated grapefruit zest
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon lime zest
One 2- to 3-pound/1- to 1.5-kilogram skin-on salmon fillet,
pin bones removed and very thin pieces of flesh trimmed
In a small bowl, combine the salt and sugar and stir to distribute the
sugar throughout the salt. In another small bowl, combine the citrus zests.
On a work surface, lay a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to extend beyond the length of the salmon. Spread a third of the salt mixture in the center of the foil to serve as a bed for the salmon. Place the salmon skin-side down on the salt. Distribute the citrus zest evenly across the salmon. Pour the remaining salt mixture over the salmon. It should be covered. Fold the foil up to contain the salt. Place another sheet of foil over the salmon and crimp the sheets together firmly. The idea is to have a tight
package in which the salt mixture is in contact with all surfaces of the salmon.
Set the foil package on a baking sheet/tray. Set a pan or dish on top of the salmon
and weight it down with a brick or a few cans. This will help press the water
out of the salmon as it cures. Refrigerate the salmon for 24 hours.
Unwrap the salmon and remove it from the cure, discarding the foil and the cure.
Rinse the salmon and pat dry with paper towels/absorbent paper. To remove the skin,
place the salmon skin-side down on a cutting board. Holding a sharp, thin, flexible
knife at about a 30-degree angle, cut between the flesh and the skin. When you can get a grip on the skin, pull it back and forth against the knife to separate it from the flesh. Set the salmon on a rack or on paper towels/absorbent paper on a tray and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours, to allow the salt concentration to equalize and to dry the salmon further. Wrap the salmon in parchment/baking paper and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Copyright © 2011 by Michael Ruhlman. Photographs copyright © 2011 by Donna Turner Ruhlman. Reprinted from Ruhlman's Twenty: The Ideas and Techniques that Will Make You a Better Cook with permission from Chronicle Books.
Michael Ruhlman is the author of nine books, including Ratio, Charcuterie, and the Soul of a Chef, as well as the co-author of seven cookbooks written with notable chefs, including The French Laundry Cookbook. He writes regularly about food at Rhulamn.com, as well as for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and food journals. He has appeared as a judge on Iron Chef America, The Next Iron Chef, and PBS's Cooking Under Fire. He and his wife, photographer Donna Turner Ruhlman, live in Cleveland Heights, OH with their daughter and son.
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