Chronicle Books, $40.00, 367 pages
As a cookbook reviewer, I occasionally come across exceptional cookbooks. Ruhlman’s Twenty is a truly exceptional one. Whether you are a total novice or an advanced home cook with an extensive library, this book is a superb addition to your kitchen shelf. This is not really a cookbook, rather a cooking instructional text with great supporting photo illustrations. If you learn all about the 20 techniques Ruhlman carefully describes and D. T. Ruhlman illustrates, your cooking is likely to improve by several levels. If you are a beginner, you are on your way to becoming a very good home cook.
The author uses easy, clear language in explanation; the photographer illustrates techniques generally in four to six photos per page. Many very good sidebars further your kitchen knowledge. Each of the 20 sections is preceded by a list of recipes of that chapter; they are very good, mostly reasonably simple recipes with nice head notes, using available ingredients and easy instructions. They are well laid out to avoid flipping pages while working on a recipe. Both metric and American units are given in the recipes. The index is also excellent, well cross referenced. I highly recommend this book to anyone.