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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 15 May 2011
The concept of using ratios in cooking is extremely useful and I very much welcome it. As engineer with cooking as hobby it is logical and I wonder why it wasn't made public in UK before now.
There is however an error in Michael Ruhlman's excellent book which frequently trips people up and could lead to a serious distortion of the ratio and thus failures in recipes.
On page 91 the statement "A pint's a pound the world around" is incorrect. In the UK and in some of the countries in the common wealth that still use the pound, the statement "a pint of water weighs a pound and a quarter" is true because there are 20 fluid ounces in a pint, unlike the US where a pint contains only 16 ounces.
This also means that a UK or Imperial Gallon is larger than the US Gallon by 20%.
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on 21 April 2009
This highly anticipated book could have been ground breaking in showing people how to cook using ratios of ingredients (e.g. one part sugar to two parts fat to three parts flour = a basic cookie dough) rather than slavishly following recipes that always seem to be different from each other. Traditionally, cooks used this sort of knowledge all the time but most home cooks nowadays seem to have lost it.

So, the concept for this book was great. Ruhlman's engaging text and delicious recipes, his tips and advice, all make parts of Ratio valuable. He clearly explains the strength of concentrating on relationships between ingredients rather than individual quantities, and doesn't pretend that understanding ratios makes you a good cook -- he reminds the reader that making good food comes down to experience and execution.

Unfortunately, the good bits are overshadowed by text that I felt was confused, inconsistent and highly repetitive. There was a lack of clarity in explanation and that stood out as a failure in such a conceptually important work. There are no diagrams beyond a sort of "wheel" of ratios. Most ratios in the book are based on weight, but Ruhlman is inconsistent about this as the book progresses, and in the recipes. Through it all, I longed for the knowledge of cooks experienced in the old ways of cooking by ratio/proportion/quantity, rather than a chef's spreadsheet (the inspiration for Ruhlman's book).

I've written a much longer review on my own site, so I'll just round off here by saying Ratio is a great concept but I feel it is best suited for readers seeking inspiration rather than clarity or careful explanation.
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on 9 May 2013
This provides some useful information, depending on your level of expertise. The paper used for the paperback edition is very poor, so I returned it and got a Kindle version. I bought it knowing it was American in origin from other reviews, so just had to put up with that. However, what I found most annoying was that the author used different measurement approaches in various recipes, not sticking to the concept of ratios. I don't think I will refer to it that often, and therefore might have been better just to get it from a library.
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on 21 May 2012
The book is great, and explains things well, but be warned: it is written solely for the US market. If you can't get your head around pounds, don't buy your eggs in ounces, can't measure an inch, have an oven that is set in degrees Celsius and are not sure what a cup measurement is, then you may find it hard work to follow.

I will say it does base all the recipes (and formulas) around basic ingredients that will be available anywhere in Europe, so you won't be scratching your head over food product trade names.
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on 15 April 2013
This book is so informative I wonder how I've ever managed all these years without it. It distils the knowhow of professional chefs who do this stuff by training and instinct into a few pages which are well written and easy to read. All of a sudden, recipes have lost their mystery and fear and I find myself actually knowing what proportions to use and what to expect. I find myself now reading recipes and comparing their proportions of ingredients to the ratios Michael Ruhlman recommends. My pastry has improved dramatically, I made perfect Yorkshire puddings following the popover formulation. My Crème Anglaise was to die for and my béarnaise which I have hitherto split every time was perfect and delicious. And that is in the first 10 days of owning the book. I am delighted with this purchase and have subsequently also purchased Ruhlman's Twenty which is another excellent addition to my library.
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on 22 June 2014
At one point in this book Ruhlman notes that metric measurements are so much more efficient in cooking. I ask now, why didn't he follow his advice and at least convert his numbers in this book from American to what the rest of the world uses??? I rated this book three stars because it would have been a miserable chore to sit with scales and tables to do these conversions as I read the work. Get with it, Michael, if this comes out in another edition (and I hope it does) please add the metric equivalents. I'll buy another copy; it's potentially that useful.
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on 25 September 2015
The Book is printed on very thin paper and to me this is most suitable for a one read throw away book. Not For A Keeping and using, also despite the reviews that I read suggesting this book, I would temper the urge to buy as I was more than a little disappointed with my purchase.
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on 7 September 2015
I assume this book is just for Americans since it uses imperial measurements only assumes that will do, it won't. Interesting for background but just plain wrong when it come to results, you cannot rely on ratios alone.
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on 9 April 2015
Having criticised other reviewers, I think it behoves me to give them something to criticise in return.
This is not a book for a beginner cook, but rather one for a cook whose recipe collection has run amok and needs to be brought back to something logical. Mediaeval alchemists (and I'm not talking about transmutation artists here, but the more workaday protoscientists giving recipes for cleansing arsenic from the water supply, for example) used never to put everything in their texts, to protect their trade secrets, and modern music fake books include deliberate errors which any competent musician will spot and correct, to avoid copyright. Many recipes similarly take the balance between their ingredients to rather imaginative extremes, and this gives a logical foundation for bringing things back to reality. I was in two minds whether to criticise other minor failings, and concluded that there is only one which is techncally actually flawed, the chapter on Roux, which to my mind must firstly be cooked out in combining the fat with the flour - if necessary by slowing the heat to slow the cook until the flour is actually cooked - and secondly (and most critically) the real art of the saucier, stretching the roux out by attentively adding a minimal amount of liquid at first, gradually and patiently increasing the flow exactly to the point where it will suddenly switch from a paste to a liquid. At that point, and only at that point, is it possible to throw it into a main dish and expect it to act as the thickener it is intended to be (with, of course, the relevant flavours). Do it earlier as he suggests and you'll end up with a lumpy sauce needing extra processing to distribute it evenly, which will split easily and cause no end of problems - this is another of the essential emulsifications alongside mayonnaise which must be mastered, combining fat and flour and then stretching it with water-based liquid. It's not the author's fault, it's a mistake long promulgated by hacks, but none the less it is an essential element in training a basic cook, at least in the European schools.
Structurally, the book could do with more editing, as it puts the custards into the deserts whereas there's a firm link into crepes and thence through the Yorkshire Pudding to the other batter puddings such as the Breton "far" and other flans, and eventually cakes. Similarly, as I just showed, there's a technical relationship between the mayonaises and roux which he misses, although he has the basics.
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on 7 January 2015
Absolutely brilliant book exactly what I have been looking for. Someone telling you how to cook/bake/prepare things and WHY you should do it that way. Really easy to follow and read with lots of those 'ooooohhh so that's why you do it that way' moments, great stuff!
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