Kitchen-savvy cats and kittens can catch up with Cleveland author, chef, and food authority Michael Ruhlman at two upcoming signings for his newest book, The Elements of Cooking — Translating the Chef's Craft for Every Kitchen. First up, a Friday, November 16 signing at The Viking Store (24703 Cedar Road, Lyndhurst) from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.; call 866-280-7469 to sign up. On Saturday, November 17, find Ruhlman at Borders (3466 Mayfield Road, Cleveland Heights, 216-291-8605), starting at 2 p.m.
The prolific penman's 12th tome, Elements is a passionate compendium of kitchen fundamentals, divided into eight introductory essays and a glossary of detailed definitions. Here are a few of our favorite excerpts:
On finesse: "For those who cook to earn their daily bread, for those who cook in the service of others, for those who have mastered the fundamentals of their craft, finesse becomes the ultimate compulsion . . . the final gratification in his or her pursuit of excellence."
On common sense: "Common sense is doled out unequally at birth . . . but it is developed in a cook by trial and error, simple repetition, and by paying attention . . . keeping your eyes open and registering and remembering what you see."
On proper kitchen equipment: "Cast iron pans are highly recommended . . . They're inexpensive, heavy, will keep a virtually nonstick surface, and can take a serious beating (or even give one!)"
On chicken: "The boneless chicken breast of factory-raised birds is an insipid cut, one of the most commonly overcooked cuts of meat, and should be avoided."
On salt: "While it is true that consuming too much salt can be bad for you, the majority of the salt we eat today is hidden in processed foods; unless you have hypertension, high blood pressure, or water retention, salting food properly is not a health issue . . ."
On fat: "Among chefs, this is dogma: Fat means flavor. Remember also that fat doesn't make us fat; too many calories make us fat. In the kitchen, fat is your best friend."