Search This Blog

Sunday, December 8, 2013


THE BOOK OF SCHMALTZ; love song to a forgotten fat (Little, Brown,
2013, 179 pages, ISBN 978-0-316-25408-3, $25 US hard covers) is by
Michael Ruhlman, an author of food reference books (Ratio, Ruhlman's
Twenty, Charcuterie, The Elements of Cooking) and a co-author of Thomas
Keller, Eric Ripert, and Michael Symon. Still, even winning a Beard, he
gets heavy duty log rolling from Joan Nathan and Arthur Schwartz. The
book actually began as an iPad app, but Ruhlman was persuaded to also
set it in print. Schmaltz appears in all the recipes here; it is
rendered chicken fat flavoured with onion. Ruhlman believes in
flavours, so schmaltz is a first pick. There's a chapter on its
background and use in both classic Jewish cuisine (matzo ball soup,
kishke, kreplach) and in contemporary cuisines. He gives details about
differences in flavours and complexities in the use of schmaltz as
opposed to vegetable oils, butter, or olive oil. For the non-Jewish,
though, lard and bacon fat would be other considerations, but not in
this book. The schmaltz recipe is easy – six steps, ninety minutes, He
even has three chicken stock recipes. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table
of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: home cooks looking for flavours.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: schmaltz-roasted potatoes
with onion and rosemary; vichyssoise with gribenes and chives; chicken
rilettes; pate de foie gras en terrine with croutons; chicken with
schmalz dumplings; Parisienne gnocchi; savory brioche.
The downside to this book: too few recipes – the pages are full of
photos and large typefaces.
The upside to this book: great photos by Donna Turner Ruhlman.
Quality/Price Rating: 91.

No comments: