The likelihood of acquiring a copy of the French cookbook Gastronomie Pratique by visiting a local bookseller is very low since this classic was first published in 1907 and has been out-of-print since 1950. A while ago, I had never heard of it; today I own three copies.

I bumped into Gastronomie Pratique quite by accident. It was at the home of Chef Frédéric Médigue, in the franc-comtois village of Amondans. Once again I had come to the Château d’Amondans for a short visit with the chef and his family, and to work a stage in the kitchen of this Michelin-starred restaurant. On the Sunday following my arrival, the Chef invited me home for a simple meal of fromage au croute.

Supper behind us, Frédéric opened the bottle of marc de provence I brought as a gift, along with several homemade eau de vies from his friends and relatives. After a taste of each, we left the kitchen and settled onto a large leather sofa in the living room, the marc within easy reach. Pascale, the chef’s wife, brought out a number of rare, old books — birthday gifts she had given to Frédéric. Most were about food. A large, yellow-bound volume printed in 1928 caught my attention. Frédéric said it was the book he turned to when his cooking needed inspiration. It was a fifth-edition of Gastronomie Pratique written by Henri Babinski, an engineer who wrote under the pen name Ali-Bab. Frédéric spoke about the author as I sipped marc and quickly browsed the book’s thousand-plus pages. Then we turned our attention to a satellite telecast of an old George Clooney vampire comedy. By the time I left for my lodgings, the bottle of marc was two-thirds drained and books were far from my consciousness.

I didn’t think much about that yellow-covered cookbook until half a year later when, once again, I was in Amondans on a Sunday night, dining with Frédéric and Pascale. This time the meal was raclette. After dinner and a juice glass or two of Davidoff cognac, I asked for another look at the book by Ali-Bab. This time, I made a more leisurely excursion through its pages. Later, walking back to my room, the notion of owning my own copy crept into my thoughts.

A few weeks later, I ran a search on bookfinder.com. It surprised me to find a couple of dozen copies listed. These ranged from a 1907 first edition to an eighth printed in 1950. Prices began at $105 and ran to over $500. But there was something a bit odd. The first edition was only 314 pages long whereas its successors were described as 1281 pages in length. Being the thrifty individual I am, I purchased a seventh edition from 1939 for $105.

The book’s arrival proved both exciting and disappointing. Instead of the sturdy volume bound in yellow cloth that I expected, I beheld a fragile book bound in paper with the edges of the cover badly chipped. On the plus side, the text was nicely printed.

A while later, I remembered that my original web search also listed an English translation. Printed in 1974, it bore the title Encyclopedia of Practical Gastronomy. I returned to bookfinder.com to locate a copy. Strangely, it was 471 pages long, far shorter than the original French version I now owned. But a copy was offered at only $8. It was hard to resist my second copy of Ali-Bab. When it arrived and I compared it with the original, I found whole sections absent. Even worse, literally translated instructions were combined with ingredient lists adapted to the average American kitchen of the mid-1970s. The result was that ingredients often failed to match the directions. I set this copy aside in favor of the French original.

Along about then, in an effort to learn more about Henri Babinski, I tried a Google search. The results were rather sparse. One link interested me. It was to amazon.fr. What was a seller of new books doing with a listing for a book from 1907? To my surprise and delight, I learned the original publisher had just issued a facsimile copy of the fifth edition from 1928. But there seemed to be a catch. The cover of the facsimile had the statement: Une bible gourmande en 5000 recettes. 5000 recipes? I hadn’t counted each recipe in my seventh edition of Ali-Bab, but they appeared to average just a bit over one per page! Still, with a listed length of 1281 pages, and being more curious than daunted, I ordered my third copy of Ali-Bab.

When the book arrived, it appeared to be a hardbound photocopy of the original text. I randomly checked its pages in the facsimile against my seventh edition and found no differences. Thus, the original was relegated to the top of the bookshelf and the facsimile became my working copy.

Although the main title of Gastronomie Pratique hasn’t changed over time, the subtitle has. In 1907, it was Études culinaires, or “Culinary Studies.” Later editions, besides being four times larger, were subtitled: Traitement de l’obésité des gourmands, or “The Treatment of Obesity in Gourmands.” The new subtitle coincided with the inclusion of a nine-page “medical” article of the same title at the end of the book and an opening 41-page essay on the history of eating.

All the articles and most of the recipes in Gastronomie Pratique are heavily footnoted — something not seen in most cookbooks — something that gives it a more technical appearance than other cookbooks.

Before the recipes, or Formules culinaires, begin on page 199, separate articles deal with such subjects as the history of meal service; general methods of cooking; general definitions of cooking stocks, meat extracts, essences, fumets, and mixtures; general definitions of sauces; classifications of soups; detailed listings of the mushrooms of France, including all their botanical names; a discussion of wine and its regions of production; how to organize a meal for friends; and 24 pages of suggested menus serving 4 to 6 guests for lunch and 8 to 12 for dinner. Once past these preliminaries, the real fun begins.

The first recipe under potages and soupes is indicative of those that follow. There is an introductory paragraph followed by a listing of the quantity the recipe serves. Ingredients, both dry and most liquid, are given precisely in grams or fractions of grams. Footnotes explain the source and purpose of ingredients, how to ready an ingredient for use, an ingredient’s scientific name, or cautions, such as “La pureté de l’eau employée a une très grande importance…,” or “The purity of the water used in cooking is very important….”

Babinski's instructions provide much more detail than other cookbooks of the period, more like what one expects in a cookbook today. His instructions, too, are footnoted to elucidate their meaning. At the end of most recipes, Babinski offers numerous substitutions and variations. (Maybe it’s from the possible combinations created by all the variations that the publisher of the facsimile came up with 5000 recipes?)

The third recipe in the section is of another format — call it a minimalist approach — one or two descriptive paragraphs with no discussion of quantities. These recipes were probably intended for more experienced readers.

As I began to prepare the recipes from Gastronomie Pratique, I was mindful that Babinski worked in a much different kitchen than is common today. Refrigeration then was a box with block ice — electric refrigerators weren’t invented until 1913. His stove used coal, coal oil, kerosene, or wood; heat was regulated by a damper; the oven had no thermostat. Where we use a food processor or blender, Babinski used a mortar and pestle or a food mill. Purity of the water and cleanliness of the ingredients were issues in Babinski’s time more than now. Meat wasn’t sold in plastic-wrapped packages. Fish was generally not available as fillets. A dozen eggs contained a variety of sizes. Flour routinely contained small stones and bugs. Despite such differences between then and now, most of the recipes I tested worked just as Babinski prescribed.

Babinski seemed to have a wider assortment of ingredients to work with than is common today. Lobster eggs were used to color dishes. Truffles were used with abandon. There are a number of recipes for brains. I assume that many of the wild game birds he describes were available at his local Paris butcher, but some recipes seem based on game he hunted fresh. Likewise, some recipes call for specific kinds of fish from specific streams. Other ingredients are common to France but generally unavailable elsewhere, e.g., sheep raised on salt marshes. And I’ve yet to find a butcher that can supply me with a quarter kilo of cock kidneys! Occasionally, Babinski calls for ingredients that no longer exist, like sirop de capillaire, a medicinal syrup made from the maidenhead fern. With a little research, suitable substitutions can be found for almost everything he specifies. Despite needing to make certain substitutions, most of the recipes I tested worked just as Babinski prescribed.

Babinski refers to ordinary ingredients in non-specific ways — an onion is an onion. On the other hand, he is sometimes also very specific: he differentiates between bon cognac, good quality brandy from anywhere in the Cognac region of France, and fine champagne, brandy made with grapes from the fine champagne sub-region. Some terms he uses are simply out-of-date. For example, most recipes containing mushrooms call for champignons de couche, an archaic term for champignons de Paris or common button mushrooms.

Babinski also, at times, uses techniques or practices that are no longer part of today’s cookery. He sometimes calls for bread or rice to thicken soups. Sauces may start with a roux and finish with egg yolks and cream. Some items are cooked for what seem to be inordinately long times — one pork and cabbage dish cooks for seven hours over low heat. Despite using some techniques not common in today’s kitchens, most of the recipes I tested worked just as Babinski prescribed.

Although the majority of recipes in Gastronomie Pratique originate from Babinski’s native France, a significant number come from the Middle East, Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Prior to publishing the first edition at the age of 52, Babinski spent a significant portion of his life as an engineer outside of France.

Along with the standard sections expected in a general book of cookery, Babinski includes a few subjects that today seem unexpected — when was the last time you saw a recipe for pig’s ear? The book’s recipes are offered in nineteen sections.

The book has no table of contents but a list, in the back, offers the basic recipes in the order of presentation. The index lists all recipes and all the variations in alphabetical order. (Maybe when the facsimile was published, the determination of 5000 recipes was derived by counting the 45 pages of index entries?)

My deeper analysis of the book began as I looked through its pages for a cross section of dishes to sample. I skipped recipes similar to those already published on this web site. I also passed on recipes calling for too many hard-to-find ingredients. I did include recipes that, on the surface, appeared too difficult to prepare or incomplete in their instructions. This left me with 85 recipes to test for possible inclusion here. My goal was to cull from these about 25 unique, successful preparations.

Every recipe I tried from Gastronomie Pratique was doable. Some required a second or third try to work out precise ingredient quantities, cooking times, or cooking temperatures. In the end, about ten percent proved too boring to warrant further attention. One recipe, the biscuit de Savoie, required five attempts to finalize the instructions. Most of the recipes eliminated from the list of 85 were scratched because there was already one or more tested recipes that used the same main ingredient or the same principal technique, such as stewing. I anticipate preparing most of the purged recipes sometime in future.

The first eight editions of Gastronomie Pratique sold about 35,000 copies over almost half a century. Hopefully, the creation of the facsimile version will once again bring this magnificent book to the attention of cooks everywhere. It is certainly a worthwhile addition to the library of all French-reading cooks, and a good excuse for all other cooks to learn how to read French.

Babinski’s comment about this soup is “Ce potage est très léger” — “This soup is very light.” Even though the soup has flour, egg, cream, and butter in it, it is indeed quite light.
The original recipe called for chicken consommé, but a rich stock with all the fat removed works just fine.
potage velouté à la semoule
1 l (1 qt)
chicken stock
45 g (123 oz)
semolina
1 large
egg yolk
65 g (14 c)
heavy cream
60 g (4 T)
chilled unsalted butter, diced
1 T
lemon juice
fine salt
1. Place the stock in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Sprinkle the semolina over the top, stir, reduce heat, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
2. Place the egg yolk and cream in a soup terrine. Whisk the hot stock into the egg yolk and cream. Whisk in the butter and lemon juice. Taste and, if needed, add salt.
Yield: 4 servings.
Ref: Henri Babinski, Gastronomie Pratique, page 227.

This is one of those dishes that looks too simple — just a few ingredients — just a few steps to prepare. The resulting soup is lighter than most split pea soups I’ve tasted.
In the original recipe, Babinski wrote that the soup could be “colored” green if the cook wants a soup that looks like fresh pea soup. He also said that the choice of garnish was up to the reader.
potage purée de pois secs
70 g (212 oz)
dried green peas
70 g (212 oz)
smoked bacon, diced
525 g (214 c)
water
1. Place the peas, bacon, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover, and simmer until the peas are soft, about 60 to 90 minutes.
2. Puree the soup in a blender. Strain the puree back into a clean saucepan. Reheat, if necessary. Salt, if needed.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Henri Babinski, Gastronomie Pratique, page 231.

How do you stuff a mussel? In this case, as the bread crumbs, onion, and parsley combine with the butter and cream, the farce created seems to stuff itself into the shell next to the mussel. Very cozy.

moules sautées panées
500 g (1+ lb)
mussels
75 g (5 T)
unsalted butter
30 g (1 oz)
minced onion
75 g (212 oz)
fresh bread crumbs
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 g (1 T)
minced parsley
50 g (313 T)
heavy cream
1. Rinse the mussels in cold water and place in a large covered saucepan over high heat. As soon as the shells open, remove the mussels from the saucepan. Drain. Remove and discard the shell half that is not attached to the muscle. Keep the mussels warm in the other half of the shell.
2. Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened and starting to brown. Add the bread crumbs and cook until they start to color a little. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the parsley over the top. Add the mussels and cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, or until well combined.
3. Add the cream and continue to cook until the cream is absorbed.
4. Arrange the mussels with the stuffing on heated serving plates.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Henri Babinski, Gastronomie Pratique, page 320.

This recipe is really just a fish fried in butter. It differs from many modern preparations because it is slowly cooked over low heat instead of rapidly cooked over high heat. The butter really just serves as a heat‑transfer mechanism and the finished fish is not greasy. Just about any fat would work. I assume that in southwestern France this dish would be prepared with goose or duck fat instead of butter.
truite au beurre
1, about 250 g (12 lb)
fresh trout, gutted
all‑purpose flour
125 g (8 T)
unsalted butter
fine salt, to taste
12
lemon, cut into 5 wedges
12 T
minced flat‑leaf parsley
1. Roll the trout in a little flour. Heat 75 g (5 T) butter in a frying pan over medium‑low heat without browning. Lay the trout in the pan, and season with salt. Squeeze the juice from one of the lemon wedges over the fish. Cook the fish for about 20 minutes, carefully turning half way through.
2. Just before serving, heat the last 50 g (3 T) of butter in a small saucepan along with the parsley. Arrange the fish on a serving platter and pour the parsley butter over the fish.
3. Arrange the finished fish on a serving platter. Fillet it at the table. Divide the sauce over the two servings and accompany each with a couple of lemon wedges.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Henri Babinski, Gastronomie Pratique, page 362.

You have to read all the way to the end of this recipe before Babinski tells you that this souffle is served with a shrimp sauce. Usually he gives the page number of a referenced recipe, but this time he neglects to do so. It turns out that his recipe for the shrimp sauce is included in the notes to another recipe. When you read through to the end of the shrimp sauce recipe, you discover that it is finished with shrimp butter. The shrimp butter, it turns out, is included as a possible variation, in a different part of the book, for crayfish butter! Eventually, it’s possible to piece the whole souffle recipe together. Unlike Babinski’s normal penchant for exactness, all three recipes leave a lot to the cook’s imagination. Also, they seem overly complicated so the following is a simplified version of the original recipe.

Babinski didn’t have a food processor so he used a mortar and pestle in many of his recipes to mash ingredients. In the following recipe, a meat grinder was used as an alternative to the mortar and pestle.

The final souffle is not soft and airy like one normally expects with a souffle. It’s firm and light, with a very pleasing texture and a delightful taste.

soufflé de saumon
garniture:
225 g (12 lb)
raw shrimp with heads, size 56 to 62 per kg (25 to 28 per lb)
dry white wine
pinch
salt
beurre de crevettes:
30 g (2 T)
unsalted butter
soufflé:
200 g (12 lb)
fresh salmon meat, finely ground
2 g (12 t)
salt
1 g (14 t)
black pepper
100 g (scant 12 c)
heavy cream
2 extra‑large
egg whites, beaten until firm
sauce de crevettes:
30 g (2 T)
unsalted butter
6 g (about 12 T)
all‑purpose flour
125 g (12 c)
fish stock
15 g (1 T)
heavy cream
14 t
paprika
cayenne pepper
1. For garniture: Remove the heads from the shrimp and reserve. Peel the shrimp tails, reserving all the shells with the heads. Set the shells and heads aside for making the beurre de crevettes. Butterfly the remaining shrimp and devein. Marinate the shrimp in a little wine and season with a pinch of salt. Just before the souffles are ready, blanch the shrimp for about 30 seconds in boiling water and drain well.
2. For beurre de crevettes: Place the shrimp heads and shells in a small saucepan along with the butter over low heat. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the butter is well colored from the shrimp. Strain the butter into a small dish and set in a refrigerator to congeal. Discard the shrimp heads and shells.
3. For soufflé: Season the salmon with the salt and pepper. Whisk the mixture with the cream and one‑third of the beaten egg white. Carefully fold the remaining beaten egg white into the mixture. Refrigerate if not cooking right away.
4. Preheat oven to 180°C (355°F).
5. Place the completed mixture into individual ramekins. Place the ramekins in a water bath and bake for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out dry.
6. For sauce de crevettes: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Mix in the flour and cook a bit without coloring. Whisk in the fish stock followed by the cream. Season with the paprika and the cayenne. Keep warm until needed. Just before serving, off the heat, whisk the shrimp butter into the sauce.
7. To serve, unmold the souffles and place one in the center of each serving plate. Arrange the cooked shrimp around the soufflés. Spoon the sauce over the souffles and the shrimp.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Henri Babinski, Gastronomie Pratique, pages 375, 425, and 302.

All of the recipes for sole in Gastronomie Pratique either call for cooking the fish whole or using the bones and fillets separately in the same dish. In the following recipe, the bones are used to produce a white wine-based fish stock. The stock is then used as a base for the sauce served with the fillets.

Today, one is more likely to obtain their sole already filleted. In that case, the sauce can be made with a stock prepared with dehydrated fumet de poison dissolved in a combination of water and white wine. Prepared in the original manner, the wine flavor is very subtle, so the combination used in the alternative preparation should be more water than wine.

Babinski called for using a buttered porcelain dish for baking the fish. Nowadays, a baking sheet lined with parchment paper will suffice.

filets de soles au vin blanc
1 (about 375 g [34 lb])
sole, filleted, bones reserved
125 ml (12+ c)
water
100 ml (scant 12 c)
dry white wine
30 g (1 oz)
common mushrooms, peeled, coarsely chopped
1 small
carrot, cut into chunks
12
onion, peeled
1
clove
1
bouquet garni consisting of thyme, parsley, 12 bay leaf, and celery greens
3 T
unsalted butter
fine salt and freshly ground pepper
4 g (12 T)
all‑purpose flour
1 extra‑large
egg yolk
25 ml (123 T)
heavy cream
12 T
verjus
1. Place the fish bones in a saucepan along with the water, wine, mushrooms, carrot, onion, clove, and bouquet garni. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the stock is well flavored, about 30 minutes. Strain and discard the solids. Reduce the stock to about 125 ml (12 c). Set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 205°C (400°F).
3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Butter the paper with about 2 T butter. Arrange the filets on the paper, season with fine salt and pepper, and bake without browning, about 5 minutes.
4. In the meantime, melt 12 T butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir to mix. Cook for a couple of minutes without browning. Whisk in the fish stock. Just before serving, whisk in 12 T butter followed by the egg yolk, cream, and verjus.
5. Arrange the cooked filets on heated serving dishes and spoon the sauce over the top. Serve immediately.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Henri Babinski, Gastronomie Pratique, page 401.

Tongue is not as common these days as it was in the past. Mostly what can be found today is beef tongue, but this dish really should be made with veal tongues. It will take about three to five tongues to produce enough meat for four servings.
The meat seems to be cooked for quite a long time, but the final result is quite spectacular. The texture of the meat is like velvet and the flavor very mild.
langue de veau, sauce aux raisins et aux amandes
500 g (1+ lb)
veal tongues
1
clove
1 medium
carrot, peeled, cut into large chunks
1 medium
leek, trimmed and washed
12
onion, peeled
1
bouquet garni
2 T
unsalted butter
10 g (about 1+ T)
all‑purpose flour
1 t
dehydrated veal stock
10 g (about 1 t)
lemon juice
212 g (about 12 t)
finely granulated sugar
20 g (2 T)
golden raisins
12 g (12 oz)
almonds, blanched and thinly sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Place the tongues in a saucepan. Push the clove into one of the carrot pieces and add to the saucepan along with the rest of the carrots, the leek, the onion, and the bouquet garni. Cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, cover the tongues with a drop‑lid, cover saucepan, and cook until the meat is tender when pierced with a long fork, about 60 to 90 minutes.
2. Remove the tongues from the saucepan, peel, and set aside. Remove the vegetables and discard. Reduce the cooking liquid to about 225 ml (scant 1 c). The dish can be prepared ahead of time to this point and set aside.
3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook until it begins to brown. Stir in the veal stock. Whisk in the reserved cooking liquid. Add the lemon juice, sugar, raisins, and almonds. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Cut the meat into 5‑mm (14‑in) thick slices and add to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to very low, cover, and simmer for about an hour. Stir occasionally.
4. To serve, arrange the meat slices on serving plates and spoon some sauce over the meat.
Yield: 4 servings.
Ref: Henri Babinski, Gastronomie Pratique, page 475.

Normally, thin slices of liver are cooked very quickly over high heat so the meat doesn’t begin to resemble shoe leather. In this recipe, because of the thickness of the meat combination being cooked, the liver is cooked very slowly over low heat. In this manner, both the liver and forcemeat are cooked to the same degree of doneness.
This recipe, like Babinski’s original, specifies the length of time that the meat is cooked. Alternatively, the meat can be served when the internal temperature reaches 63 °C (145 °F).
foie de veau en crépinettes
100 g (312 oz)
lean veal, coarsely diced
100 g (312 oz)
raw ham, or fresh bacon, coarsely diced
80 g (234 oz)
common mushrooms, peeled and coarsely diced
5 g (about 1 T)
finely diced shallots
1 g (1 sprig)
coarsely chopped flat‑leaf parsley
3 g (about 12 t)
fine salt
1 g (about 14 t)
freshly ground black pepper
14 g (about 14 t)
quatre épices
1 extra‑large
egg yolk
4 pieces, about 6 by 10 by 1 cm (212 by 4 by 38 in)
veal or calves liver
4 small pieces
caul fat, softened in warm, acidified water for 30 minutes
2 T
unsalted butter
1 T
demi‑glace, or 1 t dehydrated veal stock mixed with 3 T hot water
1. Grind together the veal, ham, mushrooms, shallots, and parsley using the fine blade on a meat grinder. Mix in the salt, pepper, and quatre épices. Add the egg yolk and mix well.
2. Coat both sides of each liver slice with some of the meat mixture. Wrap each patty with a single layer of caul fat and set aside to chill in a refrigerator until firm, about 30 minutes.
3. Melt the butter over low heat in a frying pan capable of holding all the patties in a single layer. Add the patties, seam side down. Cover and cook, turning once, for 15 minutes.
4. Transfer the patties to a plate. Pour off any fat from the frying pan. Add the demi‑glace to the pan and heat through. Taste for salt. Return the patties to the frying pan and turn once to coat with the sauce.
5. Serve immediately.
Yield: 4 servings.
Ref: Henri Babinski, Gastronomie Pratique, page 496.

In his original recipe, Babinski called for the beef rolls in this recipe to be roasted on a spit, à la broche, over high heat. Since the final shape of the rolls is reminiscent of miniature rolled roasts, it seems reasonable to cook the meat by roasting in a hot oven if an open fire and spit are not available.
paupiettes de bœuf rôties à la broche
10 g (1 T)
minced onions
30 g (2 T)
unsalted butter
115 g (14 lb)
common mushrooms, trimmed, 3‑mm (18‑in) dice
1 large
egg yolk
fine salt and freshly ground pepper
335 g (34 lb)
sirloin steak, cut horizontally into 2 thinner steaks
4 slices
fatty bacon
35 ml (2 T)
dry white wine
1 t
olive oil
1. Cook the onions in the butter over low heat without coloring. Drain the cooked onions, reserving the butter. Set the onions aside to cool.
2. Cook the mushrooms in the same butter until soft and the excreted water has evaporated. Drain and set aside with the onions.
3. When cool, season the onions and mushrooms with salt and pepper. Combine the mixture with enough egg yolk to bind it together.
4. Lay the 2 pieces of meat on a flat surface. Pound the meat slightly to increase its area by about fifty percent. Season the meat with some salt and pepper. Divide the filling over about two‑thirds of the surface so the part of the meat to the outside, once it is rolled, doesn’t have any filling underneath it. Roll the meat up. Wrap the rolls with a couple of pieces of bacon, plus some short pieces for the ends. Tie all around with string. Marinate the rolls for 6 hours in the wine and oil seasoned with a little additional pepper.
5. Preheat oven to 220°C (425°F).
6. Place the rolls on a roasting pan and cook about 25 minutes, or until to the desired degree of doneness. Remove from the oven, tent with foil, and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
7. Remove the string and bacon from the rolls and discard. Slice the rolls once diagonally and arrange on serving plates.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Henri Babinski, Gastronomie Pratique, page 523.

In Gastronomie Pratique, Babinski presents this recipe made with beef, but says in his comments at the end of the recipe that it can be prepared with pork or mutton. He doesn’t specify which cut of pork to use, but meat from the upper rear leg, well trimmed, seems to be right for this dish.
What makes this dish a civet and not a daub or some other type of stew is the addition of the pork blood. Stews prepared with blood are traditionally called civets. Before the blood is added, the sauce has an almost ghostly burgundy color. After the blood is added, the sauce becomes a deep mahogany color and the flavor is greatly improved.
civet de porc
3 T
unsalted butter
400 g (1 lb)
pork leg, cut into 2‑cm (34‑in) thick by 5 to 7‑cm (2 to 3‑in) round medallions
60 g (2 oz)
bacon, 1‑cm (38‑in) wide strips
2 t
cognac
10 g (1 T)
all‑purpose flour
300 ml (114 c)
red wine
1 small
shallot, finely diced
6 small
onions, peeled and trimmed
1
bouquet garni consisting of parsley, thyme, and bay
coarse salt and freshly ground back pepper
100 g (312 oz)
common mushrooms, trimmed and, if large, quartered
40 ml (scant 3 T)
fresh pork blood
1. Heat half the butter in a saucepan over medium‑high heat. Brown the pork and the bacon. When browned, add the cognac and ignite. Set the meat aside.
2. Lower the heat and melt the remaining butter. Add the flour and stir to combine. Whisk in the wine. Add the shallot, onions, bouquet garni, salt, and pepper, and mix well. Finally, add the reserved meat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the meat is tender, about 2 hours.
3. Twenty minutes before the meat is cooked, add the mushrooms.
4. Remove the meat, onions, and mushrooms from the pot and set aside. Keep warm. Remove and discard the bouquet garni. Bring the sauce to a full boil and reduce slightly. Off the heat, whisk in the blood.
5. Divide the meat and vegetables between heated serving plates and spoon the sauce over the top.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Henri Babinski, Gastronomie Pratique, page 540.

In a footnote, Babinski writes that in a literal sense, an aillade is a garlic sauce. He goes on to say that in the Midi, the region in the center of France, the term also refers to dishes strongly flavored with garlic. This stew qualifies under both definitions. But surprisingly, even though the garlic taste is present, it is not the least bit overwhelming.

Another surprising aspect of this recipe is that the stew is prepared with a minimum of added liquid. The water in the tomato pulp that’s released by cooking provides enough liquid to cook the meat, but not enough to make the sauce watery. And the number of ingredients is small compared to most stews — the meat; garlic and tomato as vegetables; bread crumbs for a modicum of thickening; and the demi-glace, salt, and pepper for seasoning.

Babinski suggested serving the completed stew with buttered rice. Fresh, flat noodles finished with a little butter would also be a nice accompaniment.

aillade de veau
25 g (scant 2 T)
lard
400 g (1 lb)
veal shoulder, cut into cubes, 4 to 5 cm (2 in) per side
2 g (1 t)
dry bread crumbs
20 g (23 oz)
garlic cloves, peeled, germ removed
120 g (14 lb)
tomato puree, prepared from 300 g (34 lb) peeled, seeded, diced, ground, and drained plum tomatoes
25 g (2 T)
veal demi‑glace, or 1 t dehydrated veal stock dissolved in 2 T hot water
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Heat the lard in a saucepan over medium heat. Working in small batches, brown the meat and drain. Return all the meat to the saucepan, and add the bread crumbs, garlic, tomato puree, demi‑glace, salt, and pepper. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for about an hour until tender.
2. When the meat is cooked, remove the garlic, or serve with the stew.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Henri Babinski, Gastronomie Pratique, page 571.

When a recipe simply asks for saucisse, what type of sausage does the recipe require? In the original of this recipe, Babinski asked for “long sausages” that weighed about 50 g each. He may have been referring to saucisse de Francfort, a frankfurter, or he may have been referring to some sausage common to Paris in his day that is no longer available. The recipe below was tested using boudin blanc, but just about any mild sausage would work.
In its simplest form, this recipe is really just sausage on a piece of toast smothered with a sweet, tomato-flavored onion sauce.
saucisses au vin blanc
2 T
unsalted butter
75 g (212 oz)
thinly sliced onions
300 g (34 lb)
boudin blanc, or similar sausage, in 2‑cm (34‑in) diam casing, about 6 sausages
5 g (about 12 T)
all‑purpose flour
200 g (scant 1 c)
dry white wine
1 t
dehydrated veal stock diluted in 1 T hot water
10 g
tomato paste
fine salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne pepper
1 T
chilled unsalted butter, diced
2 slices
toasted pain de mie
1. Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium‑low heat. Add the onions and mix thoroughly. Add the sausages and cook gently for about 15 minutes until the onions are soft and the sausages have started to brown.
2. Remove the sausages from the pan and set aside. Keep warm.
3. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and mix to combine. Add the wine, stock, and tomato paste and mix. Increase heat to high and reduce the sauce until thick. Season with salt and the two peppers.
4. Off the heat, mix in the chilled butter.
5. Place a piece of toasted pain de mie on each serving plate. Divide the sausages between the toast slices and spoon the sauce over the sausage.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Henri Babinski, Gastronomie Pratique, page 617.

Babinski published twelve recipes for one type or another of poulet sauté in Gastronomie Pratique, but this is the simplest version — plain chicken with a very simple sauce of reduced chicken stock and white wine — simple, but full of flavor.
poulet sauté au naturel
1, about 112 kg (312 lb),
chicken
30 g (2 T)
clarified unsalted butter
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
15 g (1 T)
cognac
100 ml (scant 12 c)
dry white wine
100 ml (scant 12 c)
chicken stock
1. Cut the chicken into pieces as follows. Cut the hindquarters and wings away from the carcass. Separate the hindquarters into legs and thighs. Separate the first joint of the wing from the second. Cut the wing tips from the second joints. Cut the breast from the carcass and separate into two halves. Reserve the remaining carcass and the wing tips for other purposes.
2. Preheat oven to 205°C (400°F).
3. Heat the butter in a high‑sided frying pan, large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer, over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces to the butter and season with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken on all sides.
4. Add the cognac and ignite. When the flames have subsided, cover the pan and place it in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until the breast and wing meat are about cooked. Remove the pieces that are cooked and keep warm. Bake the remaining chicken pieces for an additional 4 minutes, or until about done. Remove the last pieces and keep warm with the others.
5. Drain the grease from the frying pan. Deglaze with the wine and stock over medium heat. If they still require further cooking, add the legs and thighs to the liquid and stew while the sauce reduces. Just before serving, add the remaining pieces of chicken to the pan off the heat.
6. Arrange chicken pieces on heated serving plates. Spoon sauce over chicken.
Yield: 4 servings.
Ref: Henri Babinski, Gastronomie Pratique, page 629.

One can only begin to image how different chickens were when Babinski was buying them in Paris from the local boucher than from the chickens one buys today — feathers, head and ft still attached, no plastic wrapping, and very free-range.
The original recipe called for petit feu, a low heat, but in the following version, a high heat is used. The fat over the breast keeps the meat moist. The skin is not crisp or even colored. Babinski didn’t specify any further use for the bacon. It can be cut into strips and used for garnish, or eaten by the cook as a snack!
poulet gascon
1, about 112 kg (312 lb)
chicken
1 sheet
barding fat
lemon juice
75 g (3 or 4 strips)
lean bacon
200 g (scant 1 c)
chicken stock
50 g (3+ T)
demi‑glace
30 g (2 T)
unsalted butter, or good‑quality fat
9 g (1 T)
all‑purpose flour
4 small cloves (about 1 t)
garlic, pureed
fine salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large
egg yolks
lemon juice or verjus, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 210°C (410°F).
2. Remove the clavicle and discard. Lay the barding fat over the breast of the chicken and tie into place with some string while trussing the chicken. Rub the fat and the skin with a little lemon juice.
3. Line the bottom of a shallow roasting pan with the bacon. Place the chicken on top of the bacon and place in the oven. During cooking, baste the chicken every 10 minutes with the stock mixed with the demi‑glace.
4. When the chicken is cooked, 65 to 68°C (150 to 155°F) measured in the thigh, remove from the oven and tent with foil and a couple of towels for 15 minutes. Defat the cooking juices and set aside.
5. Melt the butter, or fat, in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook the flour in the butter, but don’t let it brown. Whisk the garlic into the defatted cooking juices along with any leftover basting solution. Whisk this solution into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Off the heat, whisk in the egg yolks and the lemon juice or verjus.
6. Carve the breast of the chicken into thin slices. Remove the legs and thighs. Arrange the some chicken breast and either a leg or thigh on each heated serving plate and spoon the sauce over the chicken.
Yield: 4 servings.
Ref: Henri Babinski, Gastronomie Pratique, page 642.

Macaroni baked with a cheese sauce seems to be comfort food throughout Europe. Babinski presents two versions in Gastronomie Pratique. One version is sans cream and the other, presented below, contains a small amount. In fact, the cream sauce used in this recipe is much thicker than those common today. By the time the completed dish finishes baking, most of the liquid is gone and the macaroni is coated with an intermittent layer of melted cheese and baked cream.
macaroni au gratin à la crème
1
clove, wrapped in a piece of muslin
12 small
onion
20 g (23 oz)
coarse salt
150 g (13 lb)
macaroni, or other tube‑shaped, dried pasta
2 T
unsalted butter
10 g (about 1 T)
all‑purpose flour
pinch
ground nutmeg
125 g (12 c)
heavy cream
30 g (1 oz)
Gruyère cheese, grated
30 g (1 oz)
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Push the clove into the root end of the onion. Place onion and salt in a large saucepan along with sufficient water for cooking the macaroni. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni, reduce heat to simmer, and cook until tender.
2. Melt half the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook for a couple of minutes without allowing the flour to color. Whisk in the cream. Continue to whisk until the sauce is smooth and thick. Mix in the nutmeg. Set aside and keep warm.
3. Preheat broiler.
4. Brush a gratin dish with 12 T of butter. Drain the macaroni, discarding the aromatics, and return the drained macaroni to the same saucepan. Add the sauce along with the Gruyère and half the Parmesan to the macaroni and mix well. Place the macaroni mixture in the gratin dish and level the top. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Dot the top with the remaining butter.
5. Bake the macaroni under the broiler until the top is partially browned, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Henri Babinski, Gastronomie Pratique, page 810.

In his comments accompanying this recipe, Babinski cautioned that the beans should be shucked and peeled just before the final cooking for the best flavor.
fèves fraiches au beurre
enough to have 150 g (13 lb)
fresh fava beans, shucked and peeled
coarse salt
1 sprig
fresh savory
12 T
unsalted butter
1 t
fresh, minced savory
1. Cook the beans in salted water, along with the sprig of savory wrapped in some cheesecloth, until tender, about 3 minutes.
2. Drain well. Discard the savory sprig. Mix the beans with the butter and a little minced savory.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Henri Babinski, Gastronomie Pratique, page 861.

In Babinski’s day, all but very young spinach had coarse, thick leaves that required long cooking to tenderize it. Since modern spinach bears little resemblance to that of Babinski’s time, green chard has been substituted for the spinach originally called for in this recipe.
bettes au jus
250 g (12 lb)
green chard leaves, ribs removed, washed, very coarsely chopped
coarse salt
20 g (4 t)
unsalted butter
10 g (2 t)
all‑purpose flour
100 g (12 c)
veal stock
fine salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Blanch the chard in salted, boiling water until almost tender, about 3 minutes. Drain. Refresh with cold water. Drain again and squeeze as much of the water out as possible.
2. Melt 10 g (2 t) butter in a saucepan over medium‑low heat. Add the flour and completely mix. Continue to cook the flour for 3 minutes without browning.
3. Whisk the stock into the roux and mix until smooth. Add the chard, cover, lower the heat, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Add a little more stock if the chard seems too dry.
4. Just before serving, stir in the remaining 10 g (2 t) of butter.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Henri Babinski, Gastronomie Pratique, page 876.

The sauce for this preparation is so rich and thick that the whole dish is almost a vegetable stew all by itself. But if these carrots must be served with another dish, the other dish should be fairly plain, or there may be a fight on the plate!
carottes braisées au madère
1 T
unsalted butter
250 g (12 lb)
carrots, peeled, cut into pieces
30 g (1 oz)
minced onion
30 g (1 oz)
bacon, diced, blanched for 1 minute
125 ml (12 c)
veal stock
1
bouquet garni
14 t
quatre épices
75 ml (5 T)
Madeira wine
fine salt
1. Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium‑high heat. Add the carrots and brown slightly. Add the onions, bacon, stock, bouquet garni, and quatre épices. Reduce heat and cook the carrots until just tender.
2. Shortly before serving. Remove the bouquet garni and discard. Add the wine, increase heat to high, and reduce the liquids until they become a syrup. Taste and add salt if necessary.
3. Serve the sauce with the carrots.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Henri Babinski, Gastronomie Pratique, page 904.

In his original recipe, Babinski used cèpes for the mushrooms in this fricassee. But in the notes following the recipe, he said that champignons de couche (common mushrooms) would be a suitable substitute. The large mushroom marketed nowadays as a portabello is similar to a very large common mushroom, so it was chosen as an alternative to the seasonal and often difficult to locate cèpe.
fricassée de champignons au parmesan
350 g (34 lb)
portabello mushrooms
35 g (2+ T)
unsalted butter
3 g (12 t)
fine salt
freshly ground black pepper
18 t
quartre épices
water
14 t
dehydrated veal stock dissolved in 1 t water
10 g
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and discard. Carefully scrape the gills from the caps and discard. Slice the caps into 1‑cm (38‑in) thick slices.
2. Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium‑high heat. Add the mushrooms, salt, pepper, and quartre épices. If the mushrooms don’t start shedding water on their own, add some to the pan. Cook until all the water is expelled by the mushrooms and the pan is almost dry. If the mushrooms aren’t tender yet, add some water and continue cooking. The total cooking time should be about 20 minutes.
3. Add the veal stock and mix. Verify the seasoning.
4. Plate the mushrooms slices in an attractive manner and sprinkle the cheese over the top.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Henri Babinski, Gastronomie Pratique, page 946.

Babinski describes this dish as: “Cette salade est très fraîche,” or “This salad is very refreshing.” If this recipe was served in a restaurant today, the chef would probably add a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds to each serving to update a taste that already seems quite modern.
In Babinski’s day, probably the only Worcestershire sauce available was Lea & Perrins, the original being invented in England in 1831. Today, chefs specify it by name because there are also French imitations available which don’t taste like the original.
salade de haricots verts et de tomates
250 g (12 lb)
French beans
coarse salt
400 g (1 lb)
tomatoes
15 g (1 T)
olive or walnut oil
5 g (1 t)
white wine vinegar
5 g (1 t)
Worcestershire sauce
fine salt
1. Cook the beans in salted, boiling water until tender. Drain and cool in an ice bath. Drain well.
2. Peel, core, and seed the tomatoes. Cut them into shreds about the same size as the beans. Sprinkle with coarse salt and set aside until they excrete some of their water, about 30 minutes. Drain off the water and any excess salt.
3. Whisk the oil, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce together and combine with the beans and tomatoes. Set aside to macerate for an hour before serving.
4. Taste for salt. Add salt as desired.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Henri Babinski, Gastronomie Pratique, page 956.

Surprisingly, this cake is iced while it it still warm. Also, because it is unmolded immediately upon removal from the oven, the center will fall. But the end result is amazingly light with a not-too-sweet flavor. It is not especially attractive, either.
gâteau au chocolat
gâteau:
unsalted butter and all‑purpose flour for preparing cake pan
4 extra‑large
eggs, separated
75 g (212 oz)
chocolate (64% cocoa mass)
125 g (9 T)
unsalted butter, diced
3 g (12 t)
fine salt
1 t
vanilla paste
75 g (212 oz)
ground almonds
100 g (12 c)
granulated sugar
glaçage:
125 g (412 oz)
chocolate (64% cocoa mass)
50 g (134 oz)
unsalted butter, diced
1. Prepare a 23‑cm (9‑in) round cake pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 180°C (355°F).
2. Beat the egg whites until stiff. Set aside.
3. Melt chocolate in a metal bowl over boiling water off the burner. Mix in the butter a little bit at a time. Do the same with the egg yolks. Mix in the salt and then the vanilla paste. Mix in the ground almonds and sugar. Finally, fold the mixture into the egg whites.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and level. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out dry. Unmold the cake immediately onto a cardboard cake round placed on an icing rack.
5. For the icing, melt the chocolate and incorporate the butter as above. Glaze the cake with the icing and set aside to cool.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings.
Ref: Henri Babinski, Gastronomie Pratique, page 1027.

This preparation is so simple that it’s almost hard to call it a recipe. But one of the nice aspects of Gastronomie Pratique is that it includes both the simple and difficult, the quick and laborius, and the common and exotic.

oranges au sucre
2 large
oranges
finely granulated sugar
1. Peel the orange by slicing away the peel. Cut the orange into 8 to 10 wedges. Cut each wedge into 2 pieces. Place the orange pieces in a bowl and sprinkle with a little sugar. Stir to mix.
2. Set the orange aside for 60 to 90 minutes. Stir occasionally.
3. Serve the orange wedges with any juice excreted during the maceration.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Henri Babinski, Gastronomie Pratique, page 1058.

Legend has it that this sponge cake was first prepared for Amadeus VI, Count of Savoy, in the 14th century. Babinski’s recipe, published 600 years later, called for more eggs in proportion to the other ingredients than listed below. The following proportions are closer to modern day recipes with the exception of there being less sugar. Possibly, standard eggs were smaller in Babinski’s day than today?
biscuit de Savoie
unsalted butter and all‑purpose flour for preparing cake pan
5 extra‑large
eggs, separated
150 g (13 lb)
finely granulated sugar
1 g (about 14 t)
fine salt
1 t
vanilla paste
38 g (413 T)
all‑purpose flour
33 g (4 T)
cornstarch
1. Prepare a 23‑cm (9‑in) round cake pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 180 °C (355 °F).
2. Beat the egg whites until stiff and set aside.
3. Beat the egg yolks, sugar, salt, and vanilla together until light and smooth. Next, slowly beat in the flour and starch, a few tablespoons at a time.
4. Fold the whites into the yolk mixture.
5. Pour the completed batter in the prepared cake pan and bake for about 25 minutes, until a knife inserted into the cake comes out dry.
6. Immediately remove the cake from the pan onto a rack and cool.
Yield: 8 servings.
Ref: Henri Babinski, Gastronomie Pratique, page 1068.

Commercially-produced pectin was just being introduced in Babinski’s day. Although it was first isolated in the 1820s, the first commercial production of a liquid pectin extract occurred in Germany in 1908. The growth of the pectin industry in Europe did not occur until the middle of the following decade — after Gastronomie Pratique was originally published.
Since strawberries are low in natural pectin, this confiture does not thicken as much as commercially-produced jams. However, by cooking the confiture until the sugar reaches the jell temperature, some thickening is achieved in the final product.
Babinski specified the cooking parameters using specific gravity as a measurement. In the following recipe, for convenience, the equivalent temperatures are used instead. Also, he specified the ingredients as ratios, i.e., for each kilogram of strawberries use 800 grams sugar and 200 grams water. For convenience, the quantities are listed below as absolute values, but the ratios can be used instead.
confiture de fraises
800 g
sugar
200 g
water
1000 g
strawberries, hulled
1. Place the sugar and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Carefully skim any impurities that rise to the surface. Add the strawberries to the syrup and bring to a boil again. Lower heat and poach the strawberries for about 8 minutes.
2. Strain the berries into another saucepan. Reserve the berries. Reduce the syrup until it reaches 116 °C (241 °F). Add the berries back to the syrup and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until the mixture reaches 104 °C (219 °F).
3. Remove the jam from the heat. Ladle into sterile canning jars and seal.
Yield: about 1 kg (214 lb).
Ref: Henri Babinski, Gastronomie Pratique, page 1119.

Babinski provides information on making a number of fruit syrups in Gastronomie Pratique. The process is similar for different fruits: boil juice and sugar together until syrupy.
For a syrup below, the fruit doesn’t have to be perfect. Plus, the apple pieces exposed to air will quickly oxidize and darken, but the quality of the final sauce will not be affected.
sirop de pommes
apples
granulated sugar
1. Peel, core, and finely grate the apples. Place the pulp in a non‑reactive container and set aside in a refrigerator to macerate for 10 to 12 hours.
2. Place the pulp in a couple of layers of butter muslin and squeeze to extract as much juice as possible. Set the juice aside in a refrigerator for an additional 24 hours.
3. Carefully decant the juice. Filter the juice though a couple of layers of butter muslin.
4. Depending on the sweetness of the juice, add 1200 to 1700 g (214 to 334 lb) of sugar per liter (quart) of juice in a saucepan. While continuously skimming any scum from the surface, bring the juice and sugar to a boil over medium‑high heat. Once boiling begins, continue to skim the surface, lower heat, and cook until syrupy (106°C [223°F]) and clear, about 10 to 15 minutes.
5. Set aside to cool.
Yield: about 600 ml (212 c) of syrup for each kg (214 lb) of apples.
Ref: Henri Babinski, Gastronomie Pratique, page 1143.

The original recipe for bavaroises called for sirop de capillaire instead of the orange-blossom water. This now unavailable orange-flavored syrup was made from maidenhead ferns and was prescribed as an expectorant by pharmacists. Babinski even says that the drink is good for the congested chest.

The 1935 edition of Larousse Gastronomique lists two recipes for bavaroises, but both without sirop de capillaire. The author of that book states that it is unfortunate that the drink is no longer popular because the flavor is so good.

Babinski writes that the drink can be prepared with strong tea, strong coffee, or cocoa. His preference was tea, but he didn’t specify what type of tea leaves he used.

bavaroises
30 g (2 T)
finely granulated sugar
1 large
egg yolk
60 g (14 c)
very hot espresso coffee, or very strong tea
60 g (14 c)
boiling milk
10 g (2 t)
orange‑blossom water
30 g (2 T)
dark rum
1. Whisk the sugar and egg yolk together until smooth. Whisk in the coffee (or tea), milk, and orange‑blossom water until very frothy.
2. At the moment of service, whisk in the rum.
Yield: 1 servings.
Ref: Henri Babinski, Gastronomie Pratique, page 1195.