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[CLE] Michael Ruhlman at the Viking Store


edsel
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Michael Ruhlman gave a cooking demonstration and talk at the Viking Store at Legacy Village last night. He's been traveling the country to promote his new book The Elements of Cooking. The book is intended to introduce professional techniques and terminology to the home cook, and the Viking demos are drawn from Elements and from his experience as a cookbook author and dedicated culinarian.

Preparing the dry cure for pork belly

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The first dish he demonstrated was a salad of spinach and arugula with lardons. He started out by mixing up a dry cure for pork belly. Next he cut up some already-cured belly into lardons to be rendered and crisped on the stove. The salad was dressed with some of the rendered bacon fat, sherry vinegar, and a touch of balsamic vinegar. It was topped with slices of hard-boiled egg (he recommends a poached egg as a nice touch).

Meanwhile, shallots were prepped for roasting and chicken thighs were cut up and blanched for the blanquette to follow. Mushrooms were sliced and seared in a very hot pan. A pâte à choux was cooked and cooled for the dessert.

Blanquette de Poulet - Chicken thighs in a rich stew served over fresh pasta

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Throughout the demo he explained the kitchen fundamentals involved. Some of the techniques couldn't be completed in the limited time available (bacon curing, stock making), but the value of learning these techniques was emphasized again and again. Ruhlman is a downright evangelical when it comes to proper cooking in the home (and it's clear that his idea of "proper" is grounded in the classical professional cuisine).

None of the dishes demonstrated are beyond the reach of a reasonably dedicated amateur. Strategies for putting the techniques to use (roast a chicken on Monday, make a stock from the carcass on Tuesday, use the stock to enrich your cooking over the next few days) were offered, even as he put together three courses - a lovely salad, a hearty yet elegant stew served over pasta, and a quick but yummy dessert - that could be prepared in a home kitchen.

Frying pâte à choux to make doughnuts

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The teaching facilities at the Viking Store are impressive. Given the setting, it's a bit ironic that Ruhlman made a point of not using any fancy equipment in his preparations. :laugh: The store is chock full of gadgets, but the demo employed tools that are commonly available in a decently-equipped home kitchen. He didn't even use any electrical appliances. Just a good knife, cutting board, whisk, spoons, pots, pans, bowls, etc. The only "exotic" gear, if you can call it that, was the hand-cranked machine used to roll out the pasta.

When Ruhlman gave a talk to promote his book Charcuterie at the nearby Joseph Beth bookstore a while back, only eight of us showed up. (Despite the disappointing turnout, he was quite generous with his time, chatting with us on topics that ranged far beyond the book he was promoting). This time out his book tour is generating considerably more interest, at least here in Cleveland. The teaching kitchen at Viking was at capacity (about thirty-five paying customers), and I was told that many more were turned away. Maybe the new book has a broader following than Charcuterie. Or perhaps his recent exposure on Next Iron Chef has something to do with it. :wink:

Additional photos on Flickr if you're interested. Check Ruhlman's blog for his book tour itinerary.

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Glad that Ruhlman is adding to the books on classic and professional techniques.

Fervently hope that this will also occasion a reprint of Jacques Pepin's excellent (and utterly amazing considering original publication dates in the US) La Technique and La Methode. They are the basic black Chanel with ropes of pearls of classic and professional technique.

Regards,

Theabroma

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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Fervently hope that this will also occasion a reprint of Jacques Pepin's excellent (and utterly amazing considering original publication dates in the US) La Technique and La Methode.  They are the basic black Chanel with ropes of pearls of classic and professional technique.

It's still in print and easily available (and cheap!): http://www.amazon.com/Jacques-Pepins-Compl...95671704&sr=8-2

-drew

www.drewvogel.com

"Now I'll tell you what, there's never been a baby born, at least never one come into the Firehouse, who won't stop fussing if you stick a cherry in its face." -- Jack McDavid, Jack's Firehouse restaurant

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