Author: Michael Ruhlman
Buy It: $21.78
Why You Should Own It: Michael Ruhlman is important because he's a writer first, a cook second, thus his cookbooks are more instructive than most. He has access to the turns of phrase and tips that teach rather. His books are more than mere step-by-step accounts to be memorized.

His recent work, Ruhlman's Twenty, is described as a manifesto, and it's one that makes much sense. This book is fixed around twenty different techniques and ingredients rather than a specific cuisine or meal. Working out of this book, you master poaching or butter before moving on to something else. The result is the reader becomes comfortable diving into other cookbooks because they feel secure in their abilities. The student of Ruhlman's Twenty also feels more comfortable improvising, because they understand how, for instance, a higher temperature affects the different parts of the egg white. This is a text of biblical importance for the cook who is just starting to get serious.