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Offering “the hows and whys of successful cooking,” Cookwise, by well-known food writer and culinary sleuth Shirley O. Corriher, tells you how and why things happen in the course of food preparation. The more than 230 outstanding recipes featured not only please the palate, but demonstrate the various roles of ingredients and techniques—making Cookwise an invaluable refere Offering “the hows and whys of successful cooking,” Cookwise, by well-known food writer and culinary sleuth Shirley O. Corriher, tells you how and why things happen in the course of food preparation. The more than 230 outstanding recipes featured not only please the palate, but demonstrate the various roles of ingredients and techniques—making Cookwise an invaluable reference for anyone who has ever wanted to improve on a recipe, make a cake moister, or a roast chicken juicier.


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Offering “the hows and whys of successful cooking,” Cookwise, by well-known food writer and culinary sleuth Shirley O. Corriher, tells you how and why things happen in the course of food preparation. The more than 230 outstanding recipes featured not only please the palate, but demonstrate the various roles of ingredients and techniques—making Cookwise an invaluable refere Offering “the hows and whys of successful cooking,” Cookwise, by well-known food writer and culinary sleuth Shirley O. Corriher, tells you how and why things happen in the course of food preparation. The more than 230 outstanding recipes featured not only please the palate, but demonstrate the various roles of ingredients and techniques—making Cookwise an invaluable reference for anyone who has ever wanted to improve on a recipe, make a cake moister, or a roast chicken juicier.

30 review for CookWise: The Secrets of Cooking Revealed

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kent

    If you're a food science geek like me, this is a great reference. Not quite as approachable as Alton Brown (but you might have seen her on the Alton Brown show Good Eats). The recipes are chosen to be good examples rather than great eats, but they're still pretty good. The key is that she teaches you how food works -- which helps you to figure out how to make better food. If you're the type to cook by eye and taste and smell, this is the kind of cookbook you want to read. If you're a food science geek like me, this is a great reference. Not quite as approachable as Alton Brown (but you might have seen her on the Alton Brown show Good Eats). The recipes are chosen to be good examples rather than great eats, but they're still pretty good. The key is that she teaches you how food works -- which helps you to figure out how to make better food. If you're the type to cook by eye and taste and smell, this is the kind of cookbook you want to read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Miss Poppy

    This is an amazing book. There are recipes, but the value of the book is in how it explains the processes of cooking - why foods do what they do when they're cooked. Having a strong background regarding processes and ingredients makes it much easier to experiment and succeed. It's a Bible I return to again and again. This is an amazing book. There are recipes, but the value of the book is in how it explains the processes of cooking - why foods do what they do when they're cooked. Having a strong background regarding processes and ingredients makes it much easier to experiment and succeed. It's a Bible I return to again and again.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mardel Fehrenbach

    Recently I was cataloging my cookbook collection and the process was making me think about all the different books and why I had them. I decided to randomly work my way through some of them, cooking and reading, mostly out of curiosity about why I originally purchased them and what I thought about them now. The first book I grabbed, Cookwise by Shirley Corriher, was chosen because although I remembered that I have used it for reference, I couldn't actually remember that I had cooked much from the Recently I was cataloging my cookbook collection and the process was making me think about all the different books and why I had them. I decided to randomly work my way through some of them, cooking and reading, mostly out of curiosity about why I originally purchased them and what I thought about them now. The first book I grabbed, Cookwise by Shirley Corriher, was chosen because although I remembered that I have used it for reference, I couldn't actually remember that I had cooked much from the book. So I started reading and cooking. Well, actually in this volume there was more reading and less cooking because it is basically about the techniques and materials of cooking and the recipes are designed and arranged to illustrate the points. This is good from the perspective of learning, but not necessarily so good when you just pick up the book looking for something to cook for dinner. Cookwise was a very interesting book to read and it contains a lot of valuable information. As I mentioned, I have used if for reference, and I will refer to it again and again as it has some tables and charts that are either not available or not as clearly presented in my other cookbooks. It has a very thorough discussion of baking, which doesn't directly affect me any more as it is based on wheat, a grain I can no longer use. I don't do much baking anymore anyway. But there is still good information here that I can apply to good gluten-free baking because success requires understanding the underlying principles and knowing what one is trying to emulate. As for the recipes; I find these less successful. There are really only two recipes I have tried in this book that I will make again. One is for my favorite sour-cream cornbread, a recipe that I easily adapted to hold up better as a gluten free bread, and one which my guests adore. It is not dry minimalist cornbread. I will save the book forever just for the reference materials and because it contains this cornbread recipe. The other recipe is for a cake by Rose Levy Beranbaum and I actually bake it from Ms. Beranbaum's original version. Notice that the two recipes I use are for baked goods. There are other recipes in this book but I find they all emphasize sugar and starch too much as a substitute for fat. Now I enjoy me a good dessert now and then, but everything that I have tried is too sweet for my taste. And I am not convinced that adding more sugar and starch to food to make up for fat and flavor is all that healthy of a choice either. I certainly find it less satisfying. In the end I find Cookwise excellent as a reference work and only so-so as a cookbook.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Shirley is the REAL brains behind Good Eats. Episode Three Chips for Sister Marsha is blatantly stolen from Shirley's 3 dueling chocolate chip cookie recipes - designed to show the interaction of the baking ingredients. Shirley is the REAL brains behind Good Eats. Episode Three Chips for Sister Marsha is blatantly stolen from Shirley's 3 dueling chocolate chip cookie recipes - designed to show the interaction of the baking ingredients.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    Now that I've looked through this one, I vaguely remember reading it a few years ago, but I liked it better then, for some reason. This time around, I went from being totally impressed to completely overwhelmed in just a few pages. The book starts with bread. Well, I bake bread. So I know about that. But this went so far over my head, it was into the stratosphere. I was overwhelmed with a discussion of which kind of flour I needed, based on protein content. Then we got into the importance of add Now that I've looked through this one, I vaguely remember reading it a few years ago, but I liked it better then, for some reason. This time around, I went from being totally impressed to completely overwhelmed in just a few pages. The book starts with bread. Well, I bake bread. So I know about that. But this went so far over my head, it was into the stratosphere. I was overwhelmed with a discussion of which kind of flour I needed, based on protein content. Then we got into the importance of adding a little crushed ice to the batter for some reason and a little malt barely syrup and something else, and on and on and on. The one recipe I did try, shallot mashed potatoes with garlic, was a complete disaster. Too soupy and too hard. I followed the recipe instead of using my own instincts, so I should have cooked the potatoes until done, checking them myself, instead of going by the time in the recipe. I did copy a couple of dessert recipes (what else?), one for this decadent chocolate thingy and one for pralines. We'll see how those turn out. In my opinion, this cookbook is best used as a reference. If you have a recipe that isn't working for some reason, this is a good place to look for why. Maybe more experienced cooks or ones willing to follow all the complicated directions and look for all the special ingredients would turn out some fabulous food, but I do not have the time or patience for that. I did enjoy all the name dropping and hints from famous chefs. But I don't think I'll bother with this one again.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey Duncan

    A quick overview: CookWise is a guide to the hows and whys of cooking, the science behind why bread rises (or doesn't), what turns a juicy piece of meat into a tough lump ... and so much more. The book is fantastic on many levels. It's enlightening to read cover to cover (as I did); it's a great reference for specific questions. It's intriguing as an exploration of the conditions and chemistry that produce great (or terrible) food; it's useful for troubleshooting recipes both before and after co A quick overview: CookWise is a guide to the hows and whys of cooking, the science behind why bread rises (or doesn't), what turns a juicy piece of meat into a tough lump ... and so much more. The book is fantastic on many levels. It's enlightening to read cover to cover (as I did); it's a great reference for specific questions. It's intriguing as an exploration of the conditions and chemistry that produce great (or terrible) food; it's useful for troubleshooting recipes both before and after cooking. The descriptions are straightforward for the layman, but detailed enough for real insight. The recipes span the very basics to some more complex and unusual dishes. I can't think of a cook who wouldn't benefit from these pages. Highly recommended.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    I think there are two ways to cook: you can memorize recipes or you can understand what those recipes are doing. Cookwise is a great reference for the latter. Corriher does a great job describing how each ingredient and technique affects the final outcome. In doing so, we come to understand how we can get the effect we want (cripsy vs. chewy cookie) and figure out what we've done wrong (pastry creme coddling: add more sugar so that the egg proteins don't coagulate as quickly). I wish Corriher wa I think there are two ways to cook: you can memorize recipes or you can understand what those recipes are doing. Cookwise is a great reference for the latter. Corriher does a great job describing how each ingredient and technique affects the final outcome. In doing so, we come to understand how we can get the effect we want (cripsy vs. chewy cookie) and figure out what we've done wrong (pastry creme coddling: add more sugar so that the egg proteins don't coagulate as quickly). I wish Corriher was my aunt.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Gregsamsa

    Only the Kitchen Gods know how many ingredients I would have gone on throwing in the garbage had I not discovered this book and learned how to vet a recipe before even breaking out my bowls. This book isn't just for home chefs, however; I think it would be a fascinating read for your average science geek. If it weren't for her explanation of denatured protein I would never have arrived at the counter-intuitive revelations that skim milk is the best for a good sturdy cappuccino foam, or that usin Only the Kitchen Gods know how many ingredients I would have gone on throwing in the garbage had I not discovered this book and learned how to vet a recipe before even breaking out my bowls. This book isn't just for home chefs, however; I think it would be a fascinating read for your average science geek. If it weren't for her explanation of denatured protein I would never have arrived at the counter-intuitive revelations that skim milk is the best for a good sturdy cappuccino foam, or that using my fingers to feel if a bowl is clean and dry will sabotage my meringue. HOORAY FOR SHIRLEY!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jaime

    I first heard of the author on 'Good Eats' where he uses her as a reference, normally admitting that she is more qualified than he. It struck me to order the book online & I waited very impatiently for its arrival. I was not let down. It's filled with insight and science based explanation as to why food reacts the way it does depending on different variables. I especially appreciate the charts she laid out for "troubleshooting" a recipe. One of my favorite tips was to use vodka for flaky pie crus I first heard of the author on 'Good Eats' where he uses her as a reference, normally admitting that she is more qualified than he. It struck me to order the book online & I waited very impatiently for its arrival. I was not let down. It's filled with insight and science based explanation as to why food reacts the way it does depending on different variables. I especially appreciate the charts she laid out for "troubleshooting" a recipe. One of my favorite tips was to use vodka for flaky pie crusts.

  10. 5 out of 5

    mia

    I reference this book all the time for all kinds of reasons. It explains everything you've ever wondered about cooking; has lots of good tricks, tips and alternatives too. It also has fun charts with the same recipe using different sorts of the same ingredient (like butter, shortening, oil, lard) so you can play lab at home for the sole purpose of inspecting the different ways the recipe turns out (and not at all as an excuse to make lots of chocolate chip cookies). I reference this book all the time for all kinds of reasons. It explains everything you've ever wondered about cooking; has lots of good tricks, tips and alternatives too. It also has fun charts with the same recipe using different sorts of the same ingredient (like butter, shortening, oil, lard) so you can play lab at home for the sole purpose of inspecting the different ways the recipe turns out (and not at all as an excuse to make lots of chocolate chip cookies).

  11. 4 out of 5

    Pioden

    This is an awesome book - She breaks down the mysteries of why one person can get a recipe to work fabulously, and for another it flops. Cooking is a science, and she reveals the basics in this textbook for working with what you have, and knowing why something turned out the way it did. Also full of recipes that illustrate her points, and choices in ingredients to affect the outcome. Big thumbs up.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Elise Rogers

    Great information on food science for the non-food scientist. It explains how it all works and why recipes are put together the way they are. I found this helpful as I improvise and modify different recipes. There is a recipe or two to illustrate each point. I found the recipes not to my taste. I like to know how things work, but I cook rather simply and I am not a foodie that the recipes seem to cater to.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Martha Hall

    Not the kind of book you just sit down and read cover to cover - it is a cookbook, after all - and lacking the adorable, elementary school science teacher vibe she brings to her spots on Alton Brown's Good Eats, but still a pretty amazing book. As someone who would rather learn underlying principles and then be shooed out the door than master recipes by rote, this dense volume is right up my alley. You can see why Alton hero-worships her so fervently. Not the kind of book you just sit down and read cover to cover - it is a cookbook, after all - and lacking the adorable, elementary school science teacher vibe she brings to her spots on Alton Brown's Good Eats, but still a pretty amazing book. As someone who would rather learn underlying principles and then be shooed out the door than master recipes by rote, this dense volume is right up my alley. You can see why Alton hero-worships her so fervently.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Merrideth

    This book is absolutely fantastic! It engages all foodies ranging from the most expert cook to true beginner. The awesome chemistry of cooking is revealed and gives great insight into those meals that went wrong somewhere. A Mr. fix-it among recipe books as well as a good guide to cooking everything from the perfect pie to a standing rib roast.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Weller

    Food Nerds Unite! Corriher's seminal book of food science is not to be missed. Knowing why things work the way they do frees a cook to experiment more and gives one great things to talk about at cocktail parties when the topic of polygamy is exhausted (ok that's unique to me). One of my favorite all-time books on food. Food Nerds Unite! Corriher's seminal book of food science is not to be missed. Knowing why things work the way they do frees a cook to experiment more and gives one great things to talk about at cocktail parties when the topic of polygamy is exhausted (ok that's unique to me). One of my favorite all-time books on food.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    An excellent resource. Too bad I have to take it back to the library.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michael Musgrove

    An excellect scientific perspective on how to cook.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Terry

    I just dipped into this, to get a little bread science down. Corriher was always a treat to see in her bits on "Good Eats," a real scientist in a few words. This book, on the other hand, is way more comprehensive than what I'm looking for (and it's due back at the library tomorrow). Published more than 20 years ago, it's showing its age, too. The bread recipes are all in volume measurements when everything nowadays is by weight. I just dipped into this, to get a little bread science down. Corriher was always a treat to see in her bits on "Good Eats," a real scientist in a few words. This book, on the other hand, is way more comprehensive than what I'm looking for (and it's due back at the library tomorrow). Published more than 20 years ago, it's showing its age, too. The bread recipes are all in volume measurements when everything nowadays is by weight.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    I feel a bit ambivalent about this one. It has lots of good information in it about the "why" of cooking, but it just didn't keep my attention. Maybe my interest in cooking only extends to mastering techniques and flavor combinations and not to the molecular structure of the ingredients. I feel a bit ambivalent about this one. It has lots of good information in it about the "why" of cooking, but it just didn't keep my attention. Maybe my interest in cooking only extends to mastering techniques and flavor combinations and not to the molecular structure of the ingredients.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ashleyree

    Referenced in "How to Taste," Becky Selengut. Referenced in "How to Taste," Becky Selengut.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Loved it. Quick read and full of goodness on every page.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I think I've been too spoiled by Alton Brown and his Good Eats show. Shirley Corriher tells you what the different cuts of meat are on a cow, Alton gives pictures. Overall, interesting descriptions on the science of cooking and looking at what makes food at a molecular level. There seemed to be a lack of quality control - some pages would detail measured amounts, others would skip it. The organization was a bit curious to me - the book clearly opens with bread recipes, then dances around all kin I think I've been too spoiled by Alton Brown and his Good Eats show. Shirley Corriher tells you what the different cuts of meat are on a cow, Alton gives pictures. Overall, interesting descriptions on the science of cooking and looking at what makes food at a molecular level. There seemed to be a lack of quality control - some pages would detail measured amounts, others would skip it. The organization was a bit curious to me - the book clearly opens with bread recipes, then dances around all kinds of random recipes, then ends with rich recipes. I found it odd. Love the concept, the science was interesting, but overall I didn't want to start cooking.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    This is the first time I've ever read a cookbook all the way through. The value of this book is that Corriher explains what happens chemistry-wise to your food when you cook it. I feel like I've come away with a better understanding of cooking in general and WHY recipes have you do certain things. However, I don't know how much of this knowledge I'll retain (there is a lot of information in this book, which isn't a bad thing). I also don't know how many of the recipes I'll use. Many of them are This is the first time I've ever read a cookbook all the way through. The value of this book is that Corriher explains what happens chemistry-wise to your food when you cook it. I feel like I've come away with a better understanding of cooking in general and WHY recipes have you do certain things. However, I don't know how much of this knowledge I'll retain (there is a lot of information in this book, which isn't a bad thing). I also don't know how many of the recipes I'll use. Many of them are pretty complex or call for specialty ingredients I can't get at the grocery store. I did try the Salmon Fillet with Sweet, Grainy Mustard Crust (page 187) and we (especially my 2 year old) LOVED it. I also used her advice when hard boiling eggs for Easter egg dying.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    Great information on food science for the non-food scientist. It explains how it all works and why recipes are put together the way they are. I found this helpful as I improvise and modify different recipes. There is a recipe or two to illustrate each point. I found the recipes not to my taste. I like to know how things work, but I cook rather simply and I am not a foodie that the recipes seem to cater to.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    Outstanding cooking book. Sure, it's a recipe book, but that's beside the point. Shirley tells you the ins and out of making everything from perfect pie dough to wonderfully prepared meats and veggies. It's a kitchen companion and up there with "On Food and Cooking". If you've ever wondered how cakes from scratch go together or what part egg whites and yolks play in a dish, this book is for you. Outstanding cooking book. Sure, it's a recipe book, but that's beside the point. Shirley tells you the ins and out of making everything from perfect pie dough to wonderfully prepared meats and veggies. It's a kitchen companion and up there with "On Food and Cooking". If you've ever wondered how cakes from scratch go together or what part egg whites and yolks play in a dish, this book is for you.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin Duffy

    Not the kind of book you just sit down and read cover to cover - it is a cookbook, after all - and lacking the adorable, elementary school science teacher vibe she brings to her spots on Alton Brown's Good Eats, but still a pretty amazing book. As someone who would rather learn underlying principles and then be shooed out the door than master recipes by rote, this dense volume is right up my alley. You can see why Alton hero-worships her so fervently. Not the kind of book you just sit down and read cover to cover - it is a cookbook, after all - and lacking the adorable, elementary school science teacher vibe she brings to her spots on Alton Brown's Good Eats, but still a pretty amazing book. As someone who would rather learn underlying principles and then be shooed out the door than master recipes by rote, this dense volume is right up my alley. You can see why Alton hero-worships her so fervently.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Simpson

    A very good mix of recipes ("how") and detailed explanations of *why* things need to be done a certain way, as well as how ingredients and techniques interact (which let's you apply the lessons to other recipes/cookbooks, and fix the ones that look like good ideas but don't actually work in practice). The only drawback for me was the section on breads; there are techniques recommended by others (Peter Reinhart and Jeffrey Hammelman) that produce better results. A very good mix of recipes ("how") and detailed explanations of *why* things need to be done a certain way, as well as how ingredients and techniques interact (which let's you apply the lessons to other recipes/cookbooks, and fix the ones that look like good ideas but don't actually work in practice). The only drawback for me was the section on breads; there are techniques recommended by others (Peter Reinhart and Jeffrey Hammelman) that produce better results.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    As seen in David Leite's "Perfection? Hint: It’s Warm and Has a Secret" from the 9 July 2008 NYTimes. Also as seen in this webinar: scrub to ~15:00. As seen in David Leite's "Perfection? Hint: It’s Warm and Has a Secret" from the 9 July 2008 NYTimes. Also as seen in this webinar: scrub to ~15:00.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Deidre

    A fantastic reference I'll, no doubt, keep returning to when I forget the details. A book every serious home cook should have handy so they know why their hard work might run awry in the cooking process. I loved the in depth chemical explanations in particular. I did feel like some of the recipes she listed detracted from the material, however. A fantastic reference I'll, no doubt, keep returning to when I forget the details. A book every serious home cook should have handy so they know why their hard work might run awry in the cooking process. I loved the in depth chemical explanations in particular. I did feel like some of the recipes she listed detracted from the material, however.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Susie

    See my review for Bakewise and then compound that by the fact that I NEVER cook, nor do I enjoy it, so this is WAY out of my league. I really need to get the "I Hate to Cook Book". I think that will be more my speed. That being said, I bet this would be a great book for the people in your life who really love cooking. And molecular biology. See my review for Bakewise and then compound that by the fact that I NEVER cook, nor do I enjoy it, so this is WAY out of my league. I really need to get the "I Hate to Cook Book". I think that will be more my speed. That being said, I bet this would be a great book for the people in your life who really love cooking. And molecular biology.

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