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50 Chowders Hardcover – August 22, 2000

38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (August 22, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684850346
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684850344
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #170,221 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

143 of 143 people found the following review helpful By Judith Diane Mehl on September 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
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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72 of 74 people found the following review helpful By D. Russell on November 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Diane Houslanger on August 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jasper White's book,-50 Chowders- has concise, easy to follow instructions with delicious tasting chowders. He not only tells you what to do in his recipes but he also tells you why you are doing it. This is rare to find in a modern cookbook. It's something you normally only find in an instructional video. It gives you the understanding of where you are heading instead of blindly following instructions. The chowders are wonderful and satisfying but the best thing about the book to me is his incredible love and reverence for the history of the recipes and the Shakers who handed them down. Reading his descriptions of the Shaker's respect for their food and cooking actually brought tears to my eyes. Not to play down the results of his chowder recipes...every member of my family loves them, even my 5 year old! They're the best I've ever tasted. Bravo Jasper! Your love produced a masterpiece!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
'50 Chowders' by noted New England chef and writer, Jasper White may not be among my top five favorite cookbooks, but it is certainly on my list of 25 cookbooks which must be on a shelf in my kitchen. My experience with making the recipes in this book is so good, I will waive any complaint about getting only 50 chowder recipes for a list price of $30, at least twice the cost per recipe from a `name' cookbook author.

The charm of this book extends far beyond its recipes, as it inherits an interest for the reader from its subject. Chowders easily rank as one of the great New World dishes, along with barbecue, chili and ceviche. As the author points out at the beginning of the book, a chowder is not a soup, even though it shares many similarities to some famous soups such as minestrones and bouillabaisse in being thick and being based on seafood. But, a chowder is neither a soup nor a stew, yet an exact definition is almost impossible. The meaning of `chowder', like the meaning of the word `games' is so slippery that almost every definition you can imagine may slip through your hands with a valid counterexample. This is where the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein introduced the notion of family resemblance. Each chowder example shares several similarities to a related soup which is also a chowder, but it also exhibits differences from some chowders as well as differences from non-chowder soups and stews.

Virtually the only essential ingredient seems to me to be salt pork. The next most important ingredient is a starch from potato, biscuit, or corn. The third most definitive ingredient is probably a seafood (shell or fin) protein.
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