Brooke Dojny

Storey Publishing, May 2015

144 pages, $14.95

ISBN 978-1-61212-375-2

I love cookbooks that teach me something, and Brooke Dojny’s Chowderland did just that. Specifically, I, a cook from south Louisiana, did not know that there were so many styles of chowder. And chowder is a favorite meal of political marching societies? Who knew?

Dojny does an excellent job with chowder history, and she even includes the provenance and importance of chowder crackers. She also explains the differences in regional chowders, and includes basic recipes for Maine-style Haddock Chowder, Rhode Island Clear Clam Chowder, and a farmhouse Parsnip Chowder popular in Vermont. There’s also chowders from the west coast, along with a good selection of vegetable chowders, something that most folks outside the Northeast don’t know exist.

I was a little surprised to see a recipe for Creole Seafood Gumbo. I certainly don’t consider gumbo a chowder, but she slipped in a chapter titled Splendid Seafood Stews and Bisque, so I suppose gumbo can fit in. And the gumbo recipe is authentic — to New Orleans.

This book is fairly slim, with only about 60 recipes. And the last few chapters are on breads and sweets. But if you don’t know much about chowder, this is a good book to start with. The recipes are well written, the photographs make everything look irresistible, and you’ll learn something.