Ratio: The book that changed my life

I recently read a new book. It’s called Ratio, by Michael Ruhlman. This book is like looking behind the curtain of Oz; or learning the secrets of a magician. As the author explains, “a culinary ratio is a fixed proportion of one ingredient or ingredients relative to another.” What this means is that if a cook understands ratios, then recipes aren’t ever needed. This is the main point that the author explains so thoroughly within the book. Within each chapter he explains a ratio concept in clear, simple terms. Then he provides examples, suggestions of creativity, and even a formal recipe for good measure. This book is 200+ pages of inspiration, creativity, and excitement.

Things I learned:

  • Using a scale to measure ingredients is important. Things like flour and salt don’t all weigh the same. They vary by brand and type.
  • Morton’s Kosher salt has the closest weight/volume ratio.
  • Roux is 3 parts flour to 2 parts fat. (I thought it was 1:1).
  • Beurre manie is similar to roux, in the it’s fat & flour. However, the ratio is one part butter and one part flour. Plus it doesn’t get cooked.
  • 3-2-1 Pie Dough! 3 parts flour, 2 parts fat, 1 part liquid
  • 1-2-3 cookie dough: Cream the sugar and butter, add flour, DONE.
  • Quick breads and muffins have identical ratios.The only difference is the vessel in which they’re baked. Also muffins and pancakes have the same batter.
  • Traditional stock is easy, yet very time consuming.
  • Tempura batter should be made a la minute.
  • Fresh mayo can be saved if it breaks. A few drops of water is essential due to lecithin in the egg yolk, which keeps water and oil bound together.
  • A large egg weighs 2 ounces.
  • A small amount of yolk can emulsify an enormous amount of oil.
  • Custard, ganache, and caramel all contain only 2 ingredients.
  • Butterscotch is basically a caramel made with brown sugar instead of white sugar.
  • Bread is basically just flour and liquid. Pasta is flour and eggs.

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