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by Michael Ruhlman

(Scribner, $27)

In this fascinating cookbook, Ruhlman zeroes in on the ratios among fundamental ingredients: flour, water, fat, milk, eggs. He contends that learning these ratios deepens your understanding of recipes in a way that blindly following them never could. Chapters focus on doughs and batters, custards, sauces, stocks, and sausages—recipes where ingredient ratios clearly define the outcome (e.g., flour and water might equal bread or pasta, depending on the ratio). For cooks who dream of creating original recipes, this book provides the building blocks. It can also help you spot great recipes elsewhere, because when you understand culinary ratios, you can judge a recipe’s potential simply by reading it.

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