21 February 2015

Weekend Cooking: How to Roast by Michael Ruhlman

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How to Roast by Michael RuhlmanThere are a handful of cookbook authors whose books I just have to own: sometimes because I know the recipes will be foolproof and sometimes because I know I'll learn something. Michael Ruhlman succeeds on both these accounts while providing that magic third element of timelessness.

I am thrilled that this journalist turned cook and food writer is currently working on a new series of technique books. How to Roast came out in the fall, and How to Braise came out this month. I don't yet have the braising book, but I hope to acquire it pronto.

Anyway, can there be any easier way to cook than roasting? It goes like this: season the food, stick it in the oven, wait awhile, then eat. So if it's that simple, how come more people don't roast stuff more often and how did Ruhlman manage to write 150 pages about it? Ahhhh, well, you see, there are some tips and tricks and basic knowledge that will help your success in the kitchen, and Ruhlman shares that knowledge generously.

One of the things I love about How to Roast is that Ruhlman stresses the importance of getting to know your own oven, paying attention to temperatures and times and smells and sounds whenever you roast or bake. No matter how confident you are in the kitchen, be sure to sit down and read the chapter "The Basics." Here's where you'll learn why you shouldn't be a slave to a recipe's time/temperature recommendation and how you can determine what's going on in your own oven, so you can make adjustments. As Rulhman notes:
[W]hen you're cooking, you're using all your senses, the most important of which is common sense. And that just means paying attention. (p. 4)
He goes on to tell us how to do just that, by providing practical advice mixed with entertaining stories.

copyright Rulhman EnterprisesGraduates of culinary school, like Ruhlman, stress that one of the keys to good cooking is perfecting a few basic techniques. I think learning to roast (essentially baking things in the oven) is a great place to start. As Ruhlman implies throughout the book, roasting works wonderfully both for an everyday family meal and for a holiday celebration.

The recipes cover poultry, fish, meat, and desserts. (Roasted pineapple? Yes, please.) And each one is introduced with a bit of commentary, accompanied by multiple photographs, and finished with tips called "The Finer Points." Ruhlman isn't about being a dictator or director, he wants us to know why something is done or why he uses a particular kind of oil or pan. And he doesn't leave us stranded when we pull that roast out of the oven, he explains the resting, the saucing, the carving, and the serving.

How to Roast, is a book that deserves a place of pride on your cookbook shelves. Michael Ruhlman has something to teach all of us--from the most seasoned cook to the rank beginner. I feel confident in saying that you'll turn to this book time and again through the years. The recipes here are simple and classic, and they'll carry you through a lifetime of dinners, giving you the confidence to adapt them to your own style.

For some of Rulhman's recipes, check out his Food! board on Pinterest. You'll find his recipe for roasted root vegetables (from the book) over at his website. You can also follow him on Twitter and like him on Facebook. NOTE: the photograph was scanned from How to Roast; the copyright remains with Ruhlman Enterprises.

Published by Little, Brown, 2014
ISBN-13: 9780316254106
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Tina 2/21/15, 6:41 AM  

You can't go wrong with Ruhlman, I love the way he writes. There was a funny story about him and Bourdain that hope made it into the book.

Roasting is great! The majority of our meats are roasted or grilled.

rhapsodyinbooks 2/21/15, 8:25 AM  

I could use some roasting tips! I don't know why I don't do it more, but probably because I feel insecure about it.

Trish 2/21/15, 8:58 AM  

I LOVE roasting but boy do I get that tip about trusting your senses. yesterday I roasted some chopped sweet potato but was in the bathroom cleaning while it was baking. I ended up having to chop off the overroasted bits off each piece to salvage dinner. :-/ If only I had my nose in the kitchen!

Off to check to see if my library has a copy!

bermudaonion 2/21/15, 9:30 AM  

This sounds terrific for beginners and pros both!

Molly 2/21/15, 9:38 AM  

I have started roasting more this winter, but I tend to prepare the same four-or-five menu items. I am anxious to read this book in order to add more recipes to my repertoire, as well as learn a few useful tips and tricks.

Sheila (Bookjourney) 2/21/15, 10:03 AM  

Now my mouth is watering at the thought of roasted pineapple! MMMMM! I love to roast squash

Karen 2/21/15, 10:33 AM  

This is perfect timing, because my post is a giveaway of Ruhlman's latest, HOW TO BRAISE! (I edit his books, so I get free copies. :)

jama 2/21/15, 11:39 AM  

Thanks for another wonderful review. I love to roast and want to learn more -- especially about the "why's." This looks like a great series to own.

Sarah's Book Shelves 2/21/15, 2:20 PM  

I need to get this one! I love Ruhlman's books about food/cooking and I also love to roast. It's pretty much the primary way I cook veggies these days and can make almost every veggie taste delicious!

I've been out of town the last couple weekends, but will be back participating next weekend!

Laurie C 2/21/15, 2:40 PM  

I'm insecure about cooking meat, so I could really use a book like this. We're in Lent now, though, and hubby gives up meat, so I won't need it right away!

Katherine P 2/21/15, 5:40 PM  

I love roasting and it's one of those things that I don't do very often but don't know why. This sounds like a cookbook worth looking for! I need some roasting inspiration.

Claudia 2/21/15, 7:00 PM  

Michael Ruhlman's one of my favorite cookbook authors, and this sounds like another winner.

jilllora 2/21/15, 9:49 PM  

One of my goals this year is to roast beets. I love them, but I'm afraid of staining my kitchen pink. But I just checked out the recipe on his website for roasted root veggies, and holy yum!

Teddyree 2/22/15, 6:31 AM  

I don't have a Michael Ruhlman cookbook and I love roasting so this should definitely be the one! Off to check out his pinterest board, thanks Beth.

Sue Jackson 2/22/15, 11:41 AM  

This book sounds great! I have become a roasting aficionado this past year. I think it started with a couple of magazine articles/recipes on roasting a whole meal on a baking sheet, and I realized that our old stand-by of roasted Italian sausage with pepper, onions, and potatoes could be done in SO many ways! I especially like roasting root vegetables - it's a great way to use some of the odder things from our CSA pick-up. I'll have to check out this book - thanks!


Les 2/22/15, 2:04 PM  

Every winter I think I'm going to do more roasting, but I never really get around to it. This winter has been all about using my new crock pot. Might have to challenge myself to get this cookbook in order to try a new cooking method. :)

Carole 2/22/15, 2:19 PM  

I have enjoyed his other books but for some reason this one didn't grab me as much. Cheers from Carole's Chatter

Joy 2/22/15, 3:24 PM  

Roasting is my favorite cooking technique. It takes time -- but the oven does all the work! This looks like a great book to improve my results.

Joy's Book Blog

Belle Wong 2/22/15, 11:54 PM  

I love roasted pineapple! This looks like a great addition to the cookbook shelf.

Debbie 2/23/15, 2:44 PM  

I'm late! I hate that. It bugs my sense of order. LOL
Everyone now wants to try roasted pineapple--and I must say I am joining them.

Shaina 3/8/15, 10:35 PM  

My gosh, this review wants me to find the nearest hunk of meat/vegetable and shove it in the oven!

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