ruhlmanbook.jpgYou might have had a copy of Strunk and White's The Elements of Style on your desk in high school or college. It was your go-to reference book whenever you forgot (yet again) where you should stick that damned apostrophe. Michael Ruhlman, food writer, trained chef, and most recently, judge on the Food Network's Next Iron Chef, has created his go-to reference guide for the kitchen, The Elements of Cooking: Translating the Chef's Craft for Every Kitchen.

He begins with exhaustive essays about what he considers to be the vital elements of cooking; the basic building blocks to be mastered by any great chef. Ruhlman goes into great detail on the subject of stock (he sings the praises of veal stock, which he feels is underutilized in the home kitchen), salt, heat, eggs, tools (Ruhlman could equip a kitchen with five items and do "virtually anything" he wanted to do), and more. Once you have mastered the foundation, you will find an extraordinarily thorough glossary of ingredients and cooking terms, likely to include anything you might encounter in the kitchen, from Acid to Zester. Top all that off with an introduction from Anthony Bourdain, who declares that "[e]very cook -- professional or otherwise -- who cares about what they are doing, and why, should own this book. It's that simple," and you've got yourself a kichen reference classic on your hands. Scribner, $24.