French Cooking in Ten Minutes

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 September, 2011, 12:00am


French Cooking in Ten Minutes
By Edouard de Pomiane

The author of this charming little book from 1930 takes a scientific approach to cooking, which is not surprising, considering he was a medical doctor and research scientist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France.

However, it's not a dry, academic book- instead, Edouard de Pomiane writes persuasively and without condescension. In the preface to the book, he writes: 'I am neither crazy nor a micromaniac. A micromaniac is someone obsessed with reducing things to their smallest possible form... In this book, I will explain how you can prepare dinner in 10 minutes. Since 10 minutes is such a small amount of time as to be called no time at all, I will surely be called a micromaniac.

'The only conditions for making [the dishes in the book] is you must live in a town where you can buy everything you need. Obviously, if you have to catch your trout in a mountain stream before you can prepare it, it will take you a lot longer than 10 minutes, even if you just sprinkle it with salt and eat it raw.'

Of course, with such time constraints, you won't be making gigot d'agneau (leg of lamb) or boeuf bourguignon, something de Pomiane acknowledges. Of the four cooking methods he describes - boiling, deep frying, broiling and braising - he says the last technique can be ignored in 10-minute cooking because it's impossible to braise quickly.

Instead, he provides menus for four-, five- and six-course meals (that usually include green salad as one course, with fruit as dessert) that can be served quickly. Some courses are bought pre-prepared, some of the food is cooked in the 10-minute lead-up to the meal, while other food simmers as the first dish is being eaten. Recipes include scrambled egg with truffle, venison cut- lets, English-style smoked haddock and rib steak with onion.