Part of series: Ben's Twenty

Ben's Twenty



~500 words


Last modified: January 14th, 12,022 HE

All cooking rests on a set of fundamental techniques. If you know those fundamentals, there’s very little you won’t be able to do in the kitchen.

Michael Ruhlman, Ruhlman's Twenty

Once upon a time, I was complaining. Specifically, in this instance at least, my beef was with the cookbook industry. I fully recognised myself as a culinary dumbass—a man who once tried to make a curry sandwich and who spent the best part of several months living solely on egg and sausages—and found recipes frustratingly mystifying due to not understanding the why behind instructions like add salt to taste and brown the onions, let alone the how. I wanted a cookbook that would treat me as just such a dumbass, assume absolutely no prior knowledge and take me through cooking from first principles in little baby steps.

Shortly thereafter, I discovered Ruhlman’s Twenty, which is exactly that book. Over 100(ish) recipes, divided across the twenty techniques of the title (including chapters like Onion, Salt and Water), Ruhlman takes the reader from zero to culinary hero and rather beyond; I will probably never cook sous vide, for example, but I feel better for knowing what it is.

The book has one flaw,1 however, for the aspiring chef who also finds themself interested in veganism: almost none of the book’s recipes are vegan. So, what is a man in such a position, eager to improve both his hands-on understanding of cooking and learn how to cook within the constraints of veganism, to do?

Make every recipe in the book, vegan-style.

So this is one of my projects for this year: to cook every one of the 100(ish) recipes in Ruhlman’s Twenty, adapting each to replace any non-vegan ingredients. There will be successes, there will be failures, there will no doubt be some howlingly stupid mistakes. It should all be good fun, though.

The rules of this project will be as follows:


  1. Actually, two flaws: there is no recipe index in the book, so I have had to make my own↩︎