Last night as I was adding a splash of Cointreaux to the melon and avocado starter, I remembered what a splendidly entertaining book Alexandre Dumax wrote about food and cooking - one of his 437 books, including of course The Three Musketeers, The Lady of the Camelias and The Count of Monte Christo. His Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine originally contained 600,000 words, but it's well wort finding a shorter translated version which is full of unexpected pleasures like the recipe for Gateau au fromage de Brie, or Brie cake:
Take some fine Brie cheese, knead it with a litre of flour, 90 grams of butter and a little salt. Add five or six eggs and thin the bough well, working it with the palm of your hand. Next, let it rest for half an hour; then roll it out with a rolling pin. Shape the cake in the usual way, brush it with egg, put in the oven to cook, and serve.
As usual, he's short on such unimportant details as how long you cook it, at what temperature, what is 'the usual way' of shaping what is more like a recipe for cheese straws than anything else., But it's all good fun.
There are many wonderfully simple but splendid recipes for 'ordinary' food: such as Pommes de terre a la parisienne: Melt a piece of butter or other fat in a casserole with one or two onions cut in small pieces. Add a glass of water, and put in your carefully peeled potatoes, with salt, pepper and a bouquet garni, and cook on a low flame. Delicious.
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