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Chris Amirault

Michael Ruhlman's Ratio

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Someone tell him that he wrote for Thomas Keller, not cooked for him. What a discredit to real chefs who have put in time behind the stove.

Yikes, was that really necessary?

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Why not just tell me I want a mixture of 70 percent meat and 30 percent fat? Or make the ratio 7:3? It's even more confusing when you get to his recipes, which call for 4 lbs. of meat to 1 lb. of fat, except for the chicken sausage recipe, which calls for 3.5 lbs. of meat to 1.5 lbs. of fat. Still not a 3:1 ratio to be found.

Oi. The number 7 is scary big! Incidentally, 3.5:1.5 is 7:3, so it's kind of double-weird. Maybe that part-of-the-fat-is-from-the-meat thing is really significant (assuming you were using breasts only for the chicken sausage, in which case you'd have to follow 7:3 exactly due to the leanness).

And, no soy sauce:dashi:mirin ratios? (oops, more residual arguments from the Elements of Cooking review thread...)

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What "frees" you is internalizing the ingredients and the procedure, and that just comes with practice -- not from memorizing a ratio.

I think this is a key point. Practice -- making the same or similar recipes again and again -- will eventually make clear that many recipes that initially seem disparate reduce to a common theme (or ratio perhaps?). In this sense, Ruhlman's book is not necessarily a "cure" for recipes, but may rather represent a short cut to the extensive practice that ordinarily would be required to attain comfort with winging it in the kitchen.

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Got the book last week. I thought the creme anglaise recipe was off but the creme patissiere recipe is even worse. Too many egg yolks, cream, too much butter.

There are recipes here that are just wrong. If it was just a book about recipes, well fine then. But his ratio here is just so off. It makes me weary of the whole premise of the book.

If you don't like the premise of the book how can you be objective reviewing it? You haven't tried any of the recipes and yet you insist on repeatedly panning the book.

I could care less either way about this book, but there appears to be a lot of negative energy here and not a lot of people saying they tried recipes and they didn't work. If it's too sweet for you but the recipe works is the ratio really wrong? I don't think so. Can he do all the things he claims he can with that recipe?

This thread makes me weary.

Arturo

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I purchased the Ratio IPhone application today. $4.99 well spent - I like being able to refer to it for things I rarely make.

The book itself sure does seem to have its share of detractors.

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I like the iPhone app. The main attraction is a calculator, which is handy for making odd quantities or quickly figuring out the quantities of ingredients in a ratio-based recipe based on, say, the weight of the eggs, which can be awkward to parse out in small quantities or nonstandard if you use farm eggs.

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I have to say that I don't understand the reason behind the iphone app. It seems to me that if you have the book and internalize the ratios, then all you would need is some basic math skills or a calculator. What does the iphone app add to the book?

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I don't have the book, so maybe it doesn't add anything, but the calculator is handier than doing it with an ordinary calculator or pencil and paper. Plug in one weight, and it gives to you all the other weights in the recipe and the total yield. If you happen to have an iPhone or iPod touch, it's not a bad trick for $4.99.

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And now we see why so few authors publish errata. You would think, from reading this thread, that a cookbook without an errata is error free.

I don't understand the virulence of the criticism.

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I have to say that I don't understand the reason behind the iphone app. It seems to me that if you have the book and internalize the ratios, then all you would need is some basic math skills or a calculator. What does the iphone app add to the book?

For those who might not memorize every single ratio, it might be helpful to have an app handy. It's a convenience thing like most modern technology.


Edited by FoodMan (log)

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I worked on the book, and I didn't memorize every ratio. I love the app, because I don't have to carry the book with me when I go to the cottage or to friends. My friend wanted to make biscuits the other day. We used the app to scale the ratio to the amount she wanted. Very cool. (I'm also math challenged) :)

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I worked on the book, and I didn't memorize every ratio. I love the app, because I don't have to carry the book with me when I go to the cottage or to friends. My friend wanted to make biscuits the other day. We used the app to scale the ratio to the amount she wanted. Very cool. (I'm also math challenged) :)

I bought the app. There are only 6 ratios, right ? I mean why couldn't one send it off in a email or keep in an address book ? I probably just don't understand how to use it, I only have the app not the book.

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I worked on the book, and I didn't memorize every ratio. I love the app, because I don't have to carry the book with me when I go to the cottage or to friends. My friend wanted to make biscuits the other day. We used the app to scale the ratio to the amount she wanted. Very cool. (I'm also math challenged) :)

I bought the app. There are only 6 ratios, right ? I mean why couldn't one send it off in a email or keep in an address book ? I probably just don't understand how to use it, I only have the app not the book.

Well no actually. There are six sections to the book, and within each section, several ratios. For example, in the doughs part, the ratio for bread is different than the ratio for pie dough, and different again for cookie dough.

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I worked on the book, and I didn't memorize every ratio. I love the app, because I don't have to carry the book with me when I go to the cottage or to friends. My friend wanted to make biscuits the other day. We used the app to scale the ratio to the amount she wanted. Very cool. (I'm also math challenged) :)

I bought the app. There are only 6 ratios, right ? I mean why couldn't one send it off in a email or keep in an address book ? I probably just don't understand how to use it, I only have the app not the book.

Well no actually. There are six sections to the book, and within each section, several ratios. For example, in the doughs part, the ratio for bread is different than the ratio for pie dough, and different again for cookie dough.

sorry don't mean to be thick, just am :) There are six sections in the iPhone App as well as the book?

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I worked on the book, and I didn't memorize every ratio. I love the app, because I don't have to carry the book with me when I go to the cottage or to friends. My friend wanted to make biscuits the other day. We used the app to scale the ratio to the amount she wanted. Very cool. (I'm also math challenged) :)

I bought the app. There are only 6 ratios, right ? I mean why couldn't one send it off in a email or keep in an address book ? I probably just don't understand how to use it, I only have the app not the book.

Well no actually. There are six sections to the book, and within each section, several ratios. For example, in the doughs part, the ratio for bread is different than the ratio for pie dough, and different again for cookie dough.

sorry don't mean to be thick, just am :) There are six sections in the iPhone App as well as the book?

riught, and within those sections, you should find the different ratios for each section. I haven't played with the app that much. I was supposed to test it, but couldn't get the test version to work on my iTouch.

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So I guess I'm still not clear on what you can do with this app. If I need, say, 1/2 cup of hollandaise, can the app tell me the amounts of the ingredients I'll need for that 1/2 cup? Or if I want to make 12 eclairs, can it tell me the amount of the ingredients for that volume of choux? That would be great and really helpful. On the other hand, if I need to have one of the variables to plug in, it doesn't seem nearly as helpful. I can just use a calculator.

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You can't enter the yield to solve for the components, though that seems like a logical thing that it should do, and I suspect that if you mentioned it to Ruhlman, it would be in the next upgrade. Meanwhile, though, it does display the yield, so you could enter and adjust the components until you got the yield you wanted.

You can certainly just use a calculator, but this works like a spreadsheet where you can enter one value, and all the other values are calculated at the same time, and you've got them all there on your iPhone or iTouch. Of course a spreadsheet with three or four cells isn't that big a deal, but for $5, it's a convenience.


Edited by David A. Goldfarb (log)

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It would be fairly easy to figure out the needed amounts for a cup of hollandaise given a ratio, if you're going to assume that the final weight of half a cup will be close to 120 grams. However, there's still the element of loss (from evaporation, if it even really happens. I dunno, I've never had to make hollandaise!).

The eclairs are a different story, however. I can't think off the top of my head how much an unbaked choux would weigh, and I can't deduce it from a recipe since there's tons of loss from evaporation there. So, that's probably another book altogether... Ratio 2. Or something.

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Strangely, the choux recipe in the app gives yield in number of "servings," which is totally vague, because an eclair is bigger than a cream puff and those have no standard size, but say he clarified that in the notes (there are notes and instructions for each ratio), you could translate servings into number of eclairs or cream puffs or gougères of a specified size.

In any case, the calculator automatically computes yield for each recipe, so it wouldn't require any new formulas that aren't already in the spreadsheet. It would just have to give the option of yield as a variable.

I suggested this in response to one of Ruhlman's Facebook posts. I'll report back, if he responds.


Edited by David A. Goldfarb (log)

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