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Cookwise [Hardcover]

Shirley Corriher
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 43.50
Price: CDN$ 27.27 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

Sept. 3 1997
Can you tell whether a recipe will work before you cook it? You can if you really know what's cooking.

In the long-awaited CookWise, food sleuth Shirley Corriher tells you how and why things happen in cooking. When you know how to estimate the right amount of baking powder, you can tell by looking at the recipe that the cake is overleavened and may fall. When you know that too little liquid for the amount of chocolate in a recipe can cause the chocolate to seize and become a solid grainy mass, you can spot chocolate truffle recipes that will be a disaster. And, in both cases, you know exactly how to "fix" the recipe. Knowing how ingredients work, individually and in combination, will not only make you more aware of the cooking process, but transform you into a confident and exceptional cook -- a cook who is in control.

CookWise is a different kind of cookbook. There are over 230 outstanding recipes -- from Snapper Fingers with Smoked Pepper Tartar Sauce to Chocolate Stonehenge Slabs with Cappuccino Mousse -- but here each recipe serves not only to please the palate but to demonstrate the roles of ingredients and techniques. A What This Recipe Shows section summarizes the special cooking points being demonstrated in each recipe. This little bit of science in everyday language indicates which steps or ingredients are vital and cannot be omitted without consequences.

Among the recipes you'll also find some surprises. Don't be afraid of a vinaigrette prepared without vinegar or a high-egg-white, crisp pâte â choux. Many of the concepts used here are Shirley's own. Try her method of sprinkling croissant or puff pastry dough with ice water before folding to keep it soft and easy to roll.

CookWise covers everything from the rise and fall of cakes, through unscrambling the powers of eggs and why red cabbage turns blue during cooking but red peppers don't, to the essential role of crystals in making fudge. Want to learn about what makes a crust flaky? Try the Big-Chunk Fresh Apple Pie in Flaky cheese Crust. Discover for yourself what brining does to poultry in Juicy Roast Chicken.

No matter what your cooking level, you'll find CookWise a revelation. Different people will use CookWise in different ways:

  • Home cooks will value CookWise as a collection of extraordinarily good recipes.
  • The busy chef can use CookWise as a reference book to look up and solve problems. Major headings are shown in the Contents and 42 At-a-Glance summary charts make problem solving quick and easy
  • Beginning cooks can use CookWise as a howto book with easy-to-follow recipes that produce dishes looking and tasting like the work of an experienced chef.
  • Food writers and test-kitchen chefs who are developing recipes can find the formulas and tips for successful recipes,
  • Anyone who wants to improve a recipe can use CookWise as a guide. Here is how to make cakes moister, a pate A choux drier and crisper, a dish lighter or darker in color; how to make muffins peak better, cookies spread less, or a roast chicken juicier.
  • Everyone who cooks needs to be able to spot bad recipes and save the time, money, and frustration that they cause. Many of the At-a-Glance charts point out specific problems.

CookWise is not only informative, it's engrossing, and many sections react like a mystery story. The knowledge you gain from its pages will transform you, too, into a food sleuth, an informed and assured cook who can track down why sauces curdle or why the muffins were dry -- a cook who will never prepare a failed recipe again!

Frequently Bought Together

Cookwise + BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking with Over 200 Magnificent Recipes
Price For Both: CDN$ 56.74

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Product Description

From Amazon

Is it safe to let a biochemist into your kitchen? If it's Shirley Corriher, extend an open invitation. Her long-awaited book, Cookwise, is a unique combination of basic cooking know-how, excellent recipes--from apple pie to beurre blanc--and reference source. She makes the science of cooking entirely comprehensible, then livens it up with stories, such as when her first roast duck blew up because she overstuffed it and the fat from the bird caused it to expand beyond capacity. Food companies pay Corriher fancy fees to troubleshoot their recipes, and Cookwise puts her encyclopedic knowledge ever at your fingertips. If you want to know how to make the flakiest pastry, best-textured breads, delicious fruit desserts from fruit that's not fully ripe, impeccable sauces, and attractively bright cooked vegetables, this book contains the answers. "What this recipe shows" tells you up front what's useful in each of the book's 230-plus recipes. "At-a-glance," "What to do," and "Why" help you learn or troubleshoot in minutes. If eight steps to a perfect Juicy Roast Chicken are daunting, think of the delight of Rich Cappuccino Ice Cream in three steps or the seductive Secret Marquise in five.

From Library Journal

Corriher is a well-known culinary consultant and problem solver whose answers to kitchen mysteries have appeared in many food publications. Now she has set down some of her vast knowledge in this big, wide-ranging reference/cookbook. In seven basic chapters, from The Wonder of Risen Bread to Sweet Thoughts and Chocolate Dreams, she explains why recipes work, what to do when they don't, and how to make them even better (anyone who's ever wondered why the same cake recipe always tastes better when her neighbor makes it will find out the probable reasons why). More than 200 recipes interspersed throughout demonstrate Corriher's explorations and explanations. Also included are At a Glance charts for easy reference (e.g., Finetuning Cookies), trouble-shooting charts (Yeast Bread Problems), charts on the basics (Whipped Cream: What To Do and Why), and dozens more. Although the recipes are delicious?and surely foolproof?this unique work will be far more valuable as a reference than as a cookbook. Highly recommended.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Supremely Useful for Any Cook May 28 2004
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Food for Thought June 23 2004
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Why does it do that????? AHA! Feb. 27 2004
I have been cooking forever, a devotee of Food Channel, myriads of cookbooks, a fan of Alton Brown (a lot of whose stuff has apparently come from Shirley who appears on the show). I can whip up a masterpiece (so I've been told) from the leavings in the refrigerator, recipes never to be repeated. I have created recipes from tasting commercial products for duplication and improvement. At last, the knowledge of how it all fits together in one place! This book is amazing. It is NOT a cookbook in the usual sense of a collection of recipes, but a Cook's book, that will teach you to cook better, more wisely, with better assurance of the results. It allows you to truly become a cook rather than a blind recipe follower. It tells you how AND why cooking works in all the big areas of baking, frying, candies, ice creams and lots of others. It is a friendly textbook that will confer a master's degree worth of useful knowledge. It is a must read if you care about food preparation beyond opening a box and mixing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Almost Overstuffed With Information Sept. 28 2002
I'm not a big fan of "cookbooks". Or to be more precice, I'm not a big fan of recipie collections. If I buy a "cookbook", I expect to learn more about cooking, and I get the feeling that Shirley has forgotten more than I've learned!
I first discovered Shirley when she appeared in a number of episodes of "Good Eats with Alton Brown" on Food TV. Her explainations helped make the most basic level of the science behind the food come alive.
Her book, however, is not as entertaining as Alton's book. Shirley does get far more in depth than Alton does, and sometimes her stories aren't as relevant as Alton's. And the way she flows into the recipies, it almost makes me feel that I can't go further until I do my lab work.
This isn't the book for you if you just want recipies. This isn't the book for you if you want to be entertained more than you want to cook. But this is the book for you if you have a desire to be a better cook by learning the "why" behind cooking.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Excellent book to help any cook. Nice binding and good print. I think every household should have one. thanks. thanks
Published 7 months ago by Thea
2.0 out of 5 stars A stellar volume very very poorly laid out
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... Read more
Published on April 17 2004 by m.e.
4.0 out of 5 stars Very informative
Several months ago I got 'CookWise', which became the first cookbook I read cover-to-cover. What I appreciate about this book is that it explained how ingredients interact. Read more
Published on March 29 2004 by Ann
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Understanding what you are doing and Why
This Cookbook can be read like a novel, used to cook great food from or studied like a text. All cooks that want to know more about why they are doing what they are doing Must... Read more
Published on Dec 21 2003 by Robb Saye
5.0 out of 5 stars The thinking person's cookbook
Why does food do what it does? What happens to it when you apply heat (i.e., cook or bake)? Can you be a better cook if you understand the inner-workings of the molecules that... Read more
Published on Aug. 30 2003 by B. Mann
5.0 out of 5 stars Cookwise
This is a wonderful book which has improved my cooking tremendously. My cake baking is so much better now, and folks are begging me to bake cakes for them. Read more
Published on Feb. 2 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars Nightmare Cake
For my nephew's birthday, I tried making the Basic Moist Sweet Cake, Version I (p.143). I am a good cook and generally do not have problems with recipes. Read more
Published on Jan. 24 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars valuable addition to any cookbook library!
I borrowed this book from a friend. Over one year later I finally, and reluctantly, returned it to her and bought myself one. Read more
Published on Dec 25 2002 by sethyed
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I received this book about a week ago and I'm still not through it although I have tried one of the recipes. I'm not through just because I'm enjoying the leizurely stroll. Read more
Published on Dec 17 2002
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