Jul 27

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: In the Kitchen With Julia Child

in Uncategorized

My first ever Daring Bakers Challenge, back in February 2008, was Julia Child’s recipe for French Bread. When I first looked at the recipe, I felt as though the wind had been knocked out of me because the recipe is epically long (eighteen pages long in the original Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 2). However, I quickly learned that although the directions were long, this did not translate into difficulty. As Julia wrote in the Introduction to the Anniversary Edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1, “The recipes here are thoroughly detailed since this is a teaching book. How about eight pages on making a simple omelet? You’ve got all the directions and if you can read, you can cook. You are learning by doing, and if the dish is to turn out as it should, no essential direction can be left out.” Julia wrote her recipes with the intention of walking you through each and every minute step of cooking so that you could learn and succeed. She also wrote, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking is just what the title says. It is how to produce really wonderful food–food that tastes good, looks good, and is a delight to eat.”
Fast forward a year and a half to yesterday and my newest adventure in cooking with Julia Child. I say cooking “with” her, because it really does feel as if she’s sitting there in the kitchen with you as a result of the extensive directions in each recipe. I woke up yesterday to a daunting task–to cook an entire meal using only the recipes out of volume one of Julia’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Julia warns in the Foreword, “If you are not an old campaigner, do not plan more than one long or complicated recipe for a meal or you will wear yourself out and derive no pleasure from your efforts.” Should I have taken that as an ominous warning? Was I an “old campaigner,” or would Julia thoroughly work me over in the process of trying to cook the meal, leaving me in a crumpled mess on my kitchen floor by the end of the day? What do you think? Read on to find out!
Le Menu
Tomates à la Provençale
Fricassée de Poulet à l’Ancienne (avec Riz à la Vapeur)
Une Salade Verte avec une Sauce Vinaigrette
Un choix des fromages et du pain
Pêches Cardinal Reine de Saba

Tomates à la Provençale (Tomatoes Stuffed with Bread Crumbs, Herbs, and Garlic, p.507)
These stuffed tomatoes were one of the last things I made and a snap to throw together. The results are fantastic, and a new family favorite. I’ve made stuffed tomatoes before, but they weren’t nearly as good as these. The process was simple, wash a bunch of firm red tomatoes,
cut them in half and gently squeeze out the juice and seeds, and then sprinkle each half lightly with salt and pepper.
Then mix up a stuffing out of mashed garlic, minced shallots, minced fresh basil and parsley, thyme, salt, pepper olive oil, and bread crumbs, and then fill each tomato half with a spoonful of the mixture and through them in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. When the tomatoes come out the filling has browned slightly, and the tomatoes have just started to cook through, but still retaining their original shape.

Fricassée de Poulet à l’Ancienne (avec Riz à la Vapeur) (Old-fashioned Chicken Fricassee with Wine-flavored Cream Sauce, Onions, and Mushrooms, with Steamed Rice, p.258 and p.529)
Although this chicken takes some time and patience, it was not difficult to make. It starts with vegetables and chicken browned in hot butter, and then sprinkled with some flour and seasonings, and then simmered in a rich stock. As Julia explains, “The sauce is a reduction of the cooking liquid, enriched with cream and egg yolks.” Braised onions and mushrooms are also made to accompany the chicken, and their cooking liquid is added to the sauce towards the end of the recipe.
The Champignons à Blanc (stewed mushrooms, p.511) were very easy to make–essentially mushrooms boiled for about 5 minutes in a mixture of water, salt, lemon juice, and butter.
The Oignons Glacés à Blanc (White-braised Onions-Glazed Onions, p.481) were also very easy, but took a bit more time.
These were absolutely amazing, and so yummy that I could very easily be convinced to peel all of those tiny little onions all over again just to be able to eat them this way again.
The onions are simmered very slowly in butter and herbs for about 40 minutes, so that they are tender but hold their shape.
The finished dish is very rich–layers of flavor from the delicious creamy sauce, to the slowly simmered chicken and vegetables, to the braised mushrooms and onions.

Une Salade Verte avec une Sauce Vinaigrette (Green Salad with a French Vinaigrette Dressing, p.94)
I made a simple salad using fresh organic greens and a classic French dressing. Julia explains that “[t]he usual proportion of vinegar to oil is one to three, but you should establish your own relationship.” This is the exact same proportion that my host mom in France drilled into me when I spent time with her in the kitchen. The dressing suggests variations, such as adding minced green herbs or dry mustard.

Un choix des fromages et du pain (a choice of cheese and bread)
Although there aren’t any bread recipes in volume one, I couldn’t serve a French meal in good conscience without bread and without a cheese course. So I served slices of baguette to accompany a selection of 4 cheeses (from left to right): St. André, chèvre, gorgonzola, and a triple cream Brie.

Pêches Cardinal (Compote of Fresh Peaches with Raspberry Purée, p.630)
I couldn’t resist making this dessert because I had been seeing wonderful peaches and raspberries in the grocery store. This is a cold dessert made by poaching unpeeled peaches in a sweet vanilla syrup,
then serving them chilled with a chilled raspberry purée (made by forcing raspberries through a sieve and then blending the purée with sugar).
So simple, but better than candy! Sweet, and juicy, with hints of vanilla, each bite is a bit of summer’s perfection. Everyone had the same look of surprise on their face after their first bite. These peaches are just so much better than you expect them to be!

Reine de Saba
(Chocolate and Almond Cake, p.677)
In my world, no meal is complete without chocolate, so I made a second dessert, this wonderful chocolate cake which you underbake so that its center remains fudgy and rich.
The cake is topped with a Glaçage au Chocolat (Chocolate-butter Icing, p.684)–a simple icing made from butter and melted chocolate beaten together.
By the time I made the icing we were getting antsy for dessert, so I just quickly drizzled it over the top and we cut right into it.
The peaches actually paired very nicely with the chocolate cake. I served them on the same plate, so a bit of the raspberry purée mingled with the cake. Chocolate and raspberry? You can’t go wrong with that!

Bon Appétit!
Once the cooking was done, it was time to eat! There were seven adults eating–Mr. Fuji and I, my parents, my aunt, and our friends W & G, and three children. There was plenty of good conversation and a good amount of silence due to full mouths.
The verdict? 7 very happy and extremely full adults, and 3 happy and hyper children.
So did Julia Child beat me into submission? Or did I prove to be an “old campaigner”? At least for this meal, I held my own and ended the evening happy. If you listen to Julia and let her lead you, you just can’t go wrong! I just wish she’d help me do the dishes.

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Semsavblanc July 27, 2009 at 1:33 am

It all looks superb! You have made it sound so simple too, which by the sound of the book, is no small feat either. I bet Bug can't wait to give it all a taste. She is growing up sooooooo fast!


Miranda July 27, 2009 at 5:52 am

What a great read! I love your menu and the pics are absolutely beautiful. Well done.


Alta July 27, 2009 at 6:22 am

That does appear as though it was a good amount of work – but if you love it, as you obviously did, then it's a lot of fun. Sounds so delicious, and your pictures are divine. Well done!


maybelle's mom July 27, 2009 at 7:28 am

great 24 and it seems like all the guests really had a good time.


Bob July 27, 2009 at 8:02 am

It was all wonderful. Thank you. You could lock me in a room with buckets of those cooked onions and leave me there the rest of my life and I would die happy.


Darina July 27, 2009 at 8:04 am

What a wonderful post! A lot of work but it seems worth it. The menu was perfect and inspiring. Your family is very lucky. Cooking from this book is addictive. Don't you feel like you're just getting started? Since I began cooking with Julia, I feel like I want to pull a Julie Powell and cook every recipe in the book. Probably not in a year, though. :)

Kudos to you.


Kayte July 27, 2009 at 8:05 am

Kudos to you on a thoughtful and delicious dinner! All the photos were a wonderful addition…made me feel like I was almost there!


Fuji Nana July 27, 2009 at 8:06 am

I've been dreaming of this meal ever since Saturday night. It was exceptional. Well done, Fuji Daughter!


Cajun Chef Ryan July 27, 2009 at 8:07 am

Great FB 24 post and a wonderful meal you created too! Julia has been and will always be one of my all time culinary hero's. I had the good fortune to meet with her on a few occasions in the early 1990's just after her "The Way to Cook" cookbook was released.


Lori Lynn July 27, 2009 at 8:29 am

Terrific! This is the third year we are doing a Julia dinner, looking forward to it!
Love your menu!


♥Deeba @Passionate About Baking♥ July 27, 2009 at 9:26 am

Well done on the Foodbuzz 24,24,24! Great timing too! I ♥ your post!!


vegetarianzoe July 27, 2009 at 10:02 am

I love the dessert and the tomatoes! I would say that it looks perfectly like Mediterranean French food to me. But it looks truly yummy!


Sara July 27, 2009 at 10:15 am

Those peaches look amazing. Thinking about them is making my mouth water!


Bob July 27, 2009 at 10:15 am

Ha, my sister in law has a recipe that involves several pounds of peeled boiling onions. She makes my brother do it. So it's only done once a year. Heh.

Very impressive, it all looks amazing. I really need to find my Julia Child cookbook.


Jamie July 27, 2009 at 10:18 am

Wow, that is one great meal! And except for that amazing dessert, it is almost like eating a meal (though the fancy version) at my French in-laws! But I do want a serving of the peaches and cake…


TD July 27, 2009 at 10:20 am

What a wonderful read! It's great reading how great food brings people together! And the fact that Julia Child was the inspiration was even better. This is one cookbook I don't own and I feel now as though I need to get a copy.

I just graduated from Le Cordon Bleu, in Portland OR. So there is that connection.

Again bravo!


Claudia July 27, 2009 at 11:41 am

Gorgeous, gorgeous posting. I am also planning a Julia Child dinner in august! Yours lokos so successful and so much fun – I can hardly wait now. may steal some of your menu – though. Hmmmm…. Love the photos!


Jennifer July 27, 2009 at 11:59 am

wow that looks superb! And W&G almost had to eat In-n-out with us! LOL. Those stuffed tomatoes look so yummy, I think I'll have to try that with some tomatoes from our garden.


curiousdomestic July 27, 2009 at 12:10 pm

Really nice dinner! Julia would be proud. Can't wait for the movie 8)


veron July 27, 2009 at 12:19 pm

What an amazing menu, congrats for pulling this off everything looks wonderful! And a toast to Julia Child!


Jenn July 27, 2009 at 12:52 pm

I think you did Julia proud. Wonderful choice of recipes. I love that chocolate/almond cake!! I still need to get me a copy of the book, of which I'm lagging on because now I want to try my hand at her recipes as much as I can.


Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction July 27, 2009 at 1:46 pm

Looks like you had a wonderful dinner! I also love reading Julia's recipes. I don't own any of her cookbooks (although I might have to change that), but I frequently check them out from our local library.


The Food Librarian July 27, 2009 at 2:38 pm

Julia would approve of this fine meal! :) What a nice dinner and a great 24, 24, 24 entry!


The Duo Dishes July 27, 2009 at 5:52 pm

Chicken fricassee and cake…that's all we'd need! Everything else is icing on the cake. Sounds great.


ValleyWriter July 27, 2009 at 5:54 pm

Bravo! Great 24, 24, 24 post!


Helene July 27, 2009 at 11:20 pm

Congrats for doing the 24, 24, 24. This is an amazing meal. I am so impressed. I want to make that Reine de Saba.


Raaga July 28, 2009 at 3:24 am

you made such a complicated extensive meal sound like fast food!… well almost :)


Frieda July 28, 2009 at 7:21 am

Congratulations on a successful dinner and post!


Jessie July 28, 2009 at 2:00 pm

congrats on the food buzz 24 event! your dinner looks like a french bistro feast! I love Julia Child, she was a great chef and very inspiring to our inner chefs!


Amber July 28, 2009 at 2:25 pm

All I can say is WOW! How can I finagle a dinner invite to your house? That meal looks fantastic! Now I need to get a copy of the book. Thanks for sharing!


Sue July 28, 2009 at 9:42 pm

What a fantastic meal! And what a great job you did! I have to say, though, that when I go see Julie and Julia, we'll probably go for the LIQUID type of refreshment after…and toast to Julia!


Family Cuisine Food And Recipe July 29, 2009 at 4:18 am

Interesting. Have an enjoyable time. Thank you for sharing. Cheers !


Lo July 30, 2009 at 9:23 am

Great meal! And nice sampling of the recipes from the book.

We've been cooking out of MtAoFC lately too — and I'd have to agree. It really does feel like Julia is there, guiding you gently as you make each dish.

What was it about the stuffed tomatoes that was so much better than average? Was it the texture? She seems to do wonderful things with veg. I'd be very interested to make them.


Fuji Mama July 30, 2009 at 10:29 am

Thank you so much everyone! Although not something I would attempt everyday, making the meal was a blast.

Lo–Yes, texture was a huge plus factor with these stuffed tomatoes! They were still firm and juicy…just starting to be cooked–not mushy at all. Also, the flavor profile was perfectly balanced!


John Newman August 1, 2009 at 1:40 pm

What an amazing idea. I am so psyched about seeing the movie. Julia Child changed the face of cooking in America.


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