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Cookwise Hardcover – Sep 3 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Cookbooks; 1 edition (Sept. 3 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688102298
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688102296
  • Product Dimensions: 26.3 x 20.9 x 4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #146,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold on July 15 2004
Format: Hardcover
I suspect Shirley O. Corriher and her book, 'Cookwise' are two of the most commonly quoted sources in culinary writing today. Like James Beard's 'American Cookery' and Julia Child's 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking', this book has become such a well-established authority in it's field that any attempt at criticism may seem like sacrilege. Well, I'm here to tell you that the reputation of this book is entirely deserved, and you should have no feelings whatsoever that there is any hype involved in the book's good name.
The primary value of the book is not that it explains mysteries of cooking technique, but that it explains them so well. I just finished a review of a book that attempted to explain the difference between saturated, mono-unsaturated, and poly-unsaturated fats, and it made a complete botch of the job. Shirley's explanation is so clear, it embarrasses you into having dozed through that lesson in high school. In fact, Shirley's book gives the clearest possible argument I have seen in a long time for justifying subjects like physics and chemistry in High School for people who plan to go into law or computer sciences or hair dressing. Everyone must eat. Therefore, everyone must either cook or rely on someone to cook for them. And, no sass about a raw cuisine either, because understanding what the absence of heat does to foods is as important as the application of heat.
My first very pleasant surprise when I started this book is that the first two chapters deal with baking subjects rather than savory cooking. And, I have read many an essay in the beginning of books on baking, and not a single one of them explains the mysteries of wheat flour, yeast, gluten, and bread making quite as well as Shirley's first chapter.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Elliot Essman on May 28 2004
Format: Hardcover
I've just opened Shirley Corriher's 500-page masterpiece Cookwise to a random page, hoping to find true wisdom. If the random opening technique works with my Shakespeare and my dictionary, it ought to work with a book subtitled: The Hows & Whys of Successful Cooking. Sure enough, I've hit pay dirt. The chapter is "Eggs Unscrambled," the recipe, "Mesmerizingly Smooth Flan." The author (who lives in Atlanta) lets it slip that she has actually taught the recipe "in Texas to people who had been making flan for years," and who subsequently abandoned their tried and true recipes in favor of hers. It's true that you'll see similar boasts-usually based on the work output of a female ancestor-in recipe books you can buy at any gift shop or truck stop. But Ms. Corriher leaves her Granny out of the picture; instead she relies on science. In the flan's case, using corn syrup with a little lemon juice prevents the caramel from crystallizing; an extra egg yolk adds smoothness; a towel placed underneath the baking disk prevents the bottom of the flan from overcooking. Tips and tricks are one thing-every cook should keep a collection-but few "kitchen secret" books can compare to Shirley Corriher's well organized voyage through practical food science.
I should hope the eye latches on to the word "practical" before it does "science" in the previous sentence. The author is not just a "culinary food sleuth" who roams the country giving speeches and fixing problems in corporate test kitchens; she is also a dedicated home cook with extensive experience cooking for real people in family and social situations. You can buy stimulating, even well-written, books on food science that may or may not give you techniques you can apply in your own kitchen, but Cookwise treats science only as a means to immediate results.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By LW on June 23 2004
Format: Hardcover
I purchased this book over a year ago and have been reading it little by little. It is fascinating! I've learned so much about food and cooking and why things work (or don't work) the way that they do. I'm nearing the end of the book and intend to start over again as there is just so much to learn.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By m.e. on April 17 2004
Format: Hardcover
Right off the bat, I wanted to like this book. I really really did. I have a tremendous respect for someone like Shirley Corriher, who is a huge advocate of better cooking through science. Clearly, she has the science part down, and goes into great length to make sure readers understand the how and whys of cooking. Along with this, she has some excellent recipes included in this book. The touch of grace biscuits for one are just amazing, almost indescribably good in their texture and taste.
That said, I'm giving this book two stars, not for the content, but for the presentation. To say this book is hard to follow is an understatement. The sheer amount of information shoved into this book is astounding, "shoved" being the verb that can best convey how overfilled and poorly designed this book is. Explanations of techniques/science are interspersed with recipes, making for a totally disorienting read. Recipes start on the bottom of a page, and then overlap to the back of the page, similar recipes aren't grouped together, etc. When I read this book, I got the impression that Corriher just started up her word processor, printed out a whole bunch of stuff, and gave it to an intern at the publisher for layout and design. Basic type and layout rules seemed to be overlooked just to get as much information as possible into the pages, and the book suffers tremendously.
In a revised version, this book could easily become one of the 10 most important cookbooks ever published, but at this point, it's too overfilled, overwhelming and under-thought-out to warrant buying. Again, don't get me wrong. The material in this book is stellar, there's just no flow at all. I hope the publisher resets this book in the future, so it gets the praise it really deserves!
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