Len Deighton (1929-) is an English author and illustrator, most well known for The Ipcress File (1962) which was made into a film, starring Michael Caine. Deighton has written a great many books, including historical non-fiction covering various aspects of World War Two, as well as thrillers.. and cookery books.

BritBox – The Ipcress File

In the late Fifties, Len Deighton was an advertising and book illustrator, producing more than 200 book covers, including that of the UK edition of On The Road by Jack Kerouac.

In the lull between finishing The Ipcrees File and getting it published, Deighton produced a cartoon cookery illustration, for The Daily Express. He was commissioned by The Observer to illustrate a cartoon style ‘cookstrip’ for the magazine. This ran from March 1962 to August 1966. A cookbook produced using some of the cookstrips, entitled Len Deighton’s Action Cook Book was published in that year. Also published that year, was a collection of French recipes, Où est le garlic ? In January 2015, Len Deighton created twelve new cookstrips, which appeared in Observer Food Magazine.

French Cooking for Men (1990) is a revised and updated version of Où est le garlic ? published by HarperCollins.

It would be possible to start this book as someone who has never lifted a wooden spoon and get a really really good grounding in the art of cooking. Like Edouard de Pomiane in Cooking in Ten Minutes, Len Deighton begins by describing cooking methods, kitchen equipment and cuts of meat. There’s a glossary and a section on menu planning. Information is given on wine, cheese and measurements as well as knife skills,

White sauces made with a roux aren’t low carb and can be ignored. Rendering fat, creating rillettes and clarifying butter (ghee) are all low carb cook skills. After that, strip five shows how to make a mirepoix and a bouquet garni.

Fumet de poisson au vin blanc is a simple fish soup with wine as the only carbs, but the complex fish soup contains potatoes.

White stock is low carb but the velouté isn’t. Likewise, brown stock is low carb but the demi-glace, isn’t. Pot au feu, as made by Sonia Allison in THE DAIRY BOOK OF HOME COOKERY is low carb, but although the version here starts off low carb, some of the variations aren’t. Sauce Madère is out but Petite Marmite is fine. Consommé is low carb, and the jellied version also.

The wine in sauce chaud froid might make it too carby. Aspic is deeply unfashionable these days and few people would eat it.

The Len Deighton versions of sauces Hollandaise, Bèarnaise, Choron, mousseline, Colbert are all low carb, as are the mayonnaise and remoulade recipes. Vinaigrette and sauce ravigote are low carb. Sauce moutarde depends on the carbs in the Dijon mustard, so get the lowest carb Dijon which you can find.

Next, Len Deighton tackles omelettes. Shortcrust pastry can be ignored, also crème pâtissière. Quiches made without carby ingredients can be cooked in the quiche or flan dish, without pastry. Soufflés, unless flourless are a no go. Ditto choux pastry and quenelles. Savoury mousse is fine but fiddly.

crop faceless chef cooking delicious omelette on pan
Photo by Klaus Nielsen on Pexels.com

More eggs from Len, but because he uses roux-based sauces only œufs mollets, œufs moules and œufs sur le plat are low carb.

Crêpes and croquettes from this book, aren’t suitable for a low carb lifestyle. The chou farci aux tomates made with pork and cabbage is low carb if the breadcrumbs are omitted. Fromage du porc (brawn) is low carb but British butchers probably won’t sell half a pig’s head.

Filets de poisson à la meunière are low carb but truites à la meunière whole trout aren’t because they are floured before frying. Mackerel en papillotes is low carb. Poultry galantine looks to be low carb too.

food cold water animal
Photo by Eva Elijas on Pexels.com

Rôti de porc aux navets is a simple pork roast with turnips, which have a lower carb content than potatoes. Another strip gives methods of preparing assorted potato dishes, but these could be adapted with lower carb veg such as swede, turnip and celeriac. A further strip shows the novice cook how to braise celery, endive and leek.

How to cook steaks and make French style hamburgers are useful strips.

It’s quite a useful book and could make a good stocking filler for a grandfather or great-uncle. The male in question needs to be old enough to know who Len Deighton is, perhaps. Otherwise the whole idea of French-cookery-by-thriller-author is lost.

Buy for an older novice male cook perhaps, if you can find a decent copy.

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