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50 Chowders Hardcover – Aug 22 2000


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New England clam, Manhattan red, and corn--that's the chowder story, right? Wrong. In 50 Chowders, award-winning chef Jasper White explores a surprisingly wide range of these savory one-pot meals while also offering chowder history and folklore, in-depth ingredient profiles, cooking tips, and technique instruction. (Did you know that chowder is best "cured" for one hour to three days after it's made to allow flavors to meld?) Probably the last word on the subject, the book delivers the kind of comprehensive culinary profile that enlightens even seasoned cooks. Everyone will find its recipes tempting and approachable. Beginning with a history of chowder--White sets its birth in the 18th century, citing among its possible "inventors" Native Americans, French or English fishermen, or settlers in Canada and Massachusetts--the book then explores typical chowder ingredients such as the all-important salt pork. Recipes follow for classic seafood chowders and for "farmhouse" brews such as Spring-Dug Parsnip, Shaker Fresh Cranberry Bean, and Nantucket Veal. Other chowder newcomers include Digby Bay Scallop Chowder with Cabbage and Bacon, Lightly Curried Mussel Chowder, and Bermuda Fish Chowder, which is served, deliciously, with a pitcher of rum. White also provides a chapter on chowder companions such as common crackers and includes recipes for Cheddar Cheese Biscuits and Skillet Corn Bread, among other go-withs. With eight pages of color photos and numerous technique illustrations, the book gives a humble but essential American dish its full due at last. --Arthur Boehm

From Publishers Weekly

"In order to understand chowder, you must move away from the image of the pasty-white clam chowder restaurants serve in a small cup with a bag of crackers." For White, the popular chef of New England cuisine (Lobster at Home, etc.), chowder is not a soup; it's a hearty dish containing big chunks of fish, potatoes and vegetables in a lake of steaming broth. After perusing this competent and attractive book, many readers will be converted to his view. White begins with a complete history of chowder and a host of helpful tips on selecting the basic ingredients: fish, shellfish, salt pork and bacon, potatoes, onions, cream, thyme, corn, etc. His instructions for filleting fish are excellent, and the rundown of various types of fish used in chowderAcomplete with illustrationsAbeats out similar sections in many specialized fish cookbooks. (Another chapter contains instructions for digging up your own clams.) Still, the beauty of chowder lies in its humble character and simplicity, and White respects that too much to ruin chowder by making it fussy. He provides excellent version of such classics as Corn Chowder, New England Fish Chowder and Manhattan Red Claw Chowder. The problem is that because the dish's basic ingredients are so common, many of the recipes resemble one another: only a devotee could distinguish the flavors of New England Clam (Quahog) Chowder, Steamer Clam Chowder and Razor Clam Chowder. And the closest thing to quirky is a Bermuda Fish Chowder with Crab, made with cloves and rum. Still, White convincingly showcases the ease with which these tasty, filling meals can be prepared, and his careful explanations go a long way toward resurrecting chowder's place in fine New England cuisine. Eight pages of color photos not seen by PW. (Aug.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Growing up in the Northeast and living in Maine for the last 17 years, I have a distinct love of 'chowdah'. There is nothing better than a good fish or clam chowder. That being said...I'll leave the quahogs (they're like chewing on rubber..littleneck clams are better)to the Massachusetts and Rhode Island folks and as for that 'red stuff', NOT on my table!
Jasper White has written a wonderful tribute to that delicacy we know as chowder. You don't have to live on the ocean to make it and you certainly don't have to use seafood either. When I lived in Vermont, I used to make a killer Corn Chowder that was rich and tasty. I even got my mother to try it (She had a particular aversion to what she called 'white sauce' soup). It became a traditional Christmas Eve fare and Mom was the cook.
That aside, this book is replete with absolutely fabulous recipes! Imagine a Mushroom and Leek Chowder or Farmer's Chicken Chowder. Mr. White gives you the basics of building a chowder. The recipes are great but you are free to experiment with ingredients and spices that match your culinary tastes. Chowder is decidely a comfort food and this is the definitive book on this traditional American staple.
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Well the big difference is the milk ingredient. Well White does a superb job explaining the differences in the beginning & giving some history to how they arose. A chowder doesn't mean seafood & White gives many that are not seafood based. Chowder though does mean milk & cream & tho White admits you can change the chowder to non-milk based it's now a stew & loses some of its bite. Instead use Lact-aid (lactose free) milk & for cream make a (blache roux) white sauce for substitution & you will be richly rewarded.
The chowders are superb. Tasty. But getting the seafood ingredients (quahogs) might be tricky though White does give substitutes for those not in either the North Atlantic or Pac West. There are non-seafood chowders though (about 20) for those who can't do seafood for whatever reason.
But all in all these were chowders from my childhood in New England eaten during great Nor-Easters and winter Saturdays with baked beans (see Fannie Farmer for a really authentic recipe). White gives really good chowder though...and yes it brings back those Aunt Freda memories :-) Cook's Illustrated refers to White in their chowder recipe found in American Classics if you only want an idea of chowders and would prefer a fuller book.
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This is a great collection of recipes for this time of year. I frankly love one-dish meals of any type, particularly soups and stews. White provided me with great alternatives to my basic autumn fare--beef and lamb stews, lentil and vegetable soups. If you think "chowder" only applies to clams and corn, this book will open your eyes.
My favorite recipe is the one for Pacific Northwest Salmon Chowder. As West Coast residents, my husband and I are big fans of salmon, but I'd never dreamed of putting it in soup! The combination of pearl onions, potatoes, salmon and peas in this dish is a true winner.
Many traditional and unusual clam chowder recipes are included, as well as quite a few for vegetarians. My favorite section of the book, however, is Chapter 2: Chowder Ingredients. It gives a thorough explanation of the common chowder components, and I was surprised to learn so much about various fish and different types of potatoes. As Jasper White explains, the only ingredient found in every chowder in this book is onions--what a surprise!
This book would make a great gift for the cook on your holiday gift list. (My only reason for not giving it a "5" is that I like more photographs in my cookbooks--there are only eight.)
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I first have to let you know my own bias(es): I read cookbooks like some folks read novels, but when it "comes down to it" what I truly appreciate is a book with plenty of recipes that sound delicious, and that I can actually prepare at home.
OK - here's another bias - I love chowders. I love eating them, cooking, smelling them, etc.
This is a good scholarly book on chowders. It begins with a history of chowders in Northeastern America from 1700 up to 2000 when the author tells us "50 CHOWDERS by Jasper White, the first hardcover book of contemporary chowders, is published".
The author doesn't hide his biases: Jasper White is a proud Northeastern American and believes chowders have been and remain an integral part of the Northeast American (this includes Canada) diet and culture since the 1700's.
This is a book to please lots of people because the recipes sound yummy and do-able for the most part. Most focus on clams, shellfish and fish in general. There are some veg. chowders as well - leaning heavily toward corn. There are also recipes for accompaniments - breads, fritters - not many,though - also leaning mostly toward corn. (OK by me, I love corn).
There's a lot of information here, which I appreciate. This isn't an open a can of this and that, instead it's very thoughtfully put together. As with most worthwhile cookbooks, Jasper White focuses on the importance of the very best ingredients to achieve the very best product(s). You can learn about various types of clams, shellfish, fish, broths, with some interesting history thrown in...
I like it.
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