The Spirit of Cooking: Spectacular Dishes Using Champagne, Wine, Spirits and Liqueurs


110 pages
Contains Illustrations, Index
ISBN 0-919845-36-3






Reviewed by John I. Jackson

John I. Jackson was a library technician at the University of Toronto.


Few cooks would argue with the precept of the eighteenth century English catch, that “wine works wonders”! Indeed, the use of wines and spirits in cooking is of such long standing that it seems almost an integral element of it. Elegant or hearty, the cuisine of the world is everywhere sauced, marinated, stewed, or washed down with booze. It seems reasonable, therefore, at first glance, that a book should collect and present a variety of recipes that feature the use of alcoholic beverages in their preparation. When, however, to produce a quick savory sauce for chicken or fish, we are urged to “stir up a package of instant vanilla pudding using 1/4 cup of sherry,” we must question the purpose of a book such as The Spirit of Cooking.

This tawdry, cobbled-together little book is a collection of recipes, mostly from other sources, which call for canned soups, ketchup, and cornflakes; specifies the brand (Ranier) of American beer to use in beer bread; and expects readers to know all about “Winnipeg-Style Cream Cheese” and “Brodies Self-Rising Flour.” We can almost hear the voice of the late Bruce Marsh exhorting us to “fold in the ‘Kraft Miniature Marshmallows.’” Then to recommend a fine wine is a poor joke. Ironically, two of the more attractive recipes, Veal Piccata a la Mirabeau, and Salmon Wellington a la Paul with Soubise Sauce, do not call for any alcohol at all. But these dishes, and a few others, notably the lovely Cointreau Crown Roast of Pork, are lost in this collection, and suffer from the low form of this book.


Warwick, Paul, “The Spirit of Cooking: Spectacular Dishes Using Champagne, Wine, Spirits and Liqueurs,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 13, 2024,