The Pyromaniac's Cookbook : The Best in Flaming Food and Drink

by John J. Poister
Illustrated by Frank Perry
Original Printing: 1968 (hardcover)
Reprint: 1996

image: 1968 edition dust jacket personal copy

"How to dazzle your guests with flambé cookery of every kind--appetizers, drinks, main courses, desserts; plus tips on entertaining. Possibly the most exciting cookbook since the discovery of fire."

This particular cookbook needs very little explanation so I will get right to the contents itself by outlining the chapters:

Cooking With Flare: The 'how to' chapter of pyromaniacal cookery. Includes a collection of "hot tips" and many variations of cherries jubilee. A great read.

Casual Conflagrations: Guiding you in the flavoring of food using spirits (liquor). These recipes focus on the simplicity of flambe so it looks like a nice place for the novice foodie pyro to start. Breakfast foods such as omlettes and sausages begin the chapter, various veggie dishes in the middle, and it concludes with meat and fish recipes. To save some of you from looking up the word "conflagration", it means "an uncontrolled burning."

Flaming Feasts in the Great Tradition: Lobster! Shrimp! Crab! It seems the majority of this chapter is dominated by seafood options but there are a some recipes reserved for duck and chicken. Coq Au Vin is included as well Steak Diane and a few other traditional main courses. For the vegetarians, there are also recipes for rice dishes and sauces.

Incandescent Cocktails and Matchless Coolers: Bartenders as performance artists? The movie "Cocktail" should prove anyone wrong but Tom Cruise flung more bottles than flaming drinks. Toddies, buttered rums, peculiar punches and and a delicious drink called The Black Stripe fill the pages. Hot Tip # 16 does focus on restraint needed when preparing these drinks for consumption, taking care not to oxidize your alcohol or you'll wind up sober. And never, ever, boil your drink!

There are many cold drink recipes that are just as fun to drink, so the chapter is plenty packed. So much more to say about this section but best to let you discover the gems yourself!

How to Fire up the Party: I should mention that each chapter has a healthy introduction that is best read siting down. This chapter's focus is about how to keep your guests happy rather than being all about setting things aflame. You'll see recipes for traditional sauces (Bearnaise, curry, mustard mayo), as well as a list of punches, both flaming and cooled. Some of note are Shanghai Punch (black tea), a 200 hundred year old recipe for Firehouse punch and the traditional Swedish glogg (mulled wine).

Light up the Sky!: The outdoor cooking section is not extensive, but enough material to cover a complete barbequed meal, including the sauces. Steaks, burgers, birds of every feather are represented and the chapter concludes with a few salad recipes. The Whiteoaks Salad professes it uses no vinegar, but instead a combination of lemon juice and champagne. An experiment for your next summer picnic?

The Fiery Finish: Ahh, desserts! Lots of fiery fruit; peaches, plums, apricots, cherries, apples, the traditional Bananas Flambé, then we move into sundaes. When is the last time you had flaming ice cream? Too long, I say.

26 Sure Fire Ways to Fix Coffee:

A Glossary of Flambe Fuels:


As a bonus for the unusual nature of these drinks, here's an Aberdeen Angus recipe, not included in the book:

1 lime
1 tablespoon honey
2 ounces of Scotch
1 ounce of Drambuie

Mix all ingredients except Drambuie in flameproof mug. Add boiling water. Warm Drambuie, ignite and pour blazing into mug.


Companion Media:

  • French flambe party (1971 book)
  • Fondue, flambé and side table cooking (1973 book)
  • Gueridon and Lamp Cookery, a complete guide to side-table and flambé service (1964 book)
  • A Pyromaniac's Love Story (1995 movie)
  • Fire Starter (1984 movie)
  • Cocktail (1988 movie)