Discovering Monsieur Dior's favourite recipes: The Tailor-Made Cuisine Cookbook
"The ingredients we use when cooking are just as noble as the materials used in couture" - Christian Dior
Aside from creating high-fashion masterpieces, cooking was deemed to be one of Christian Dior's greatest pleasures. Following his death, a limited-edition cookbook bound with Dior's most beloved recipes was released in 1972, titled La Cuisine Cousu-Main, complete with an aluminium cover and vivid, colourful, fashion illustrations created by René Gruau. Less than 4,000 copies were published of the cookbook, which quickly made it a rare, collectible novelty, until it was released once again in 2013, by British publisher, Asprey.
A quick search on the internet for a first-edition copy of this cookbook will set you back approximately $900 USD, on average.
Fortunately, as of early this year, a digital edition of the beloved cookbook was released for all lovers of cooking, couture, and the admirers of the Dior fashion house to enjoy – free of charge.
The book is sectioned into 7 areas for each meal course, plus an additional small section containing important culinary lexicon (petit lexique de termes culinaires). The range of recipes stem from classic favourites for soups (les potages), eggs and first courses (les œufs, et entrées), fish (le poisson), poultry (la volaille), side vegetables (légumes d'accompagnement), salads (les salades), and desserts (les desserts).
Here are six of the best recipes hand-picked from the cookbook.
Cream of Chervil Soup
Prepare a chicken velouté: Make a roux using 100g of butter and 3 tablespoons of flour. Add 1 1/4 litres of chicken broth and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then add a large handful of fresh chervil, chopped with scissors. Let the velouté cook for 45 minutes. Sieve the velouté, then reheat. Whisk 3 egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of cream together for a few minutes, then add to the velouté. Add a small handful of fresh chervil sprigs, minced with scissors. Do not let soup come to a boil.
Poached Eggs À La Pompadour
Dilute 1 tablespoon of flour in cold water. Add 15g salt and the juice of 1/2 a lemon. Bring to a boil and cook 8 artichokes from Brittany in this blanc. When the artichokes are cooked through, remove the petals and choke. In another pot, poach 8 eggs in boiling water and 1 tablespoon vinegar. Drain the poached eggs thoroughly. Prepare a béarnaise sauce. Place the artichoke hearts in a well-buttered gratin dish. Garnish each artichoke heart with a spoonful of béarnaise sauce, then with a poached egg, and cover with béarnaise sauce. Dust with grated Parmesan and place the dish under the boiler. Serve in the gratin dish.
Red Mullet Escabèche
In a frying pan, sear 8 prepared red mullets in olive oil, with 2 cloves of chopped garlic, salt, and pepper. Let the fish cool. Slice and salt 500g of cucumbers, and let them rest in a colander. Peel, de-seed, and slice 1kg of tomatoes. Finely slice 3 whole lemons, without removing their peel. Arrange tomatoes, cucumbers, and lemons on a serving plate. Place the cold fish on the crudités, and cover with 250g of fish jelly.
Stuffed Chicken with Fromage Blanc
Finely chop 2 large onions and cook in 100g of butter until soft. Mix together 400g of fromage blanc, cooked onions, 5g of parsley, 2g of thyme, 3g of tarragon, 1 diced truffle, 1/2 cup of soft breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper. Stuff 1 chicken with this mixture. Melt 100g of butter in a casserole dish. While butter is still warm, place the chicken in the dish and flambé with 2 tablespoons of Hennessy cognac. Pour 1 cup of chicken stock over the chicken. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken. Make a sauce with the chicken juices and potato starch, and serve alongside the chicken.
Purée 2kg of bananas and 10 pineapple slices. Add 400g of caster sugar, the juice of 4 oranges, the juice of 4 lemons, and 1 large tub of crème fraîche, and mix well. Let cool in the refrigerator. The next day, freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker. Serve with a cold apricot sauce, made by puréeing a full jar of apricot jam with a little water.
Pear Ice Cream
Prepare a simple syrup with 200g and the zest of one lemon. Bring syrup to a simmer, then add 1.25kg of Bartlett pears. When pears are soft, mash them with the syrup and add the juice of 3 lemons. Let cool completely. Whisk cooled mixture with heavy cream and freeze in an ice cream maker. This ice cream can be served with a sauce made of a simple syrup and diced pears poached in the syrup.