We all remember Julia Child. She made her mark on us and still lives in the hearts of cooks across America - her books are best-sellers today and the movie about her has been a tremendous success.
Her kitchen has been preserved at the Smithsonian Institution and she was the first woman inducted into the Culinary Institute of America's Hall of Fame.
There's never been a doubt that Julia brought joy to cooking. To quote her, "Train yourself to use your hands and fingers - keep your knives sharp. Above all, have a good time." She has written that cooking is endlessly fascinating and challenging and although ultimately personal, it is a joy to be shared.
Another quote from Julia - "The process of cooking is to transform nature into culture. Sharing recipes, trying out new ideas, tasting and bantering with friends and enjoying a bottle of wine always produces the greatest meals."
Using Julia Child's recipes, how about having friends or family over to enjoy a Julia Child dinner?
Raise your glass and savor the fruits of your labor as you first serve the appetizers. These delightful little morsels "get the juices and the talk going, and focus everyone's attention where it belongs, on the pleasures of the table."
First make the puff pastry -
1 cup water
3/4 stick unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
exactly 1 cup eggs - about 5 large eggs blended together with a fork before measuring
Bring the water to a boil with the butter and salt; as soon as butter melts, remove pan from heat.
Pour in flour and beat vigorously; return to heat until pastry balls up and cleans itself off sides of pan.
Turn pastry into bowl and stir for 30 seconds. Make a well in center and beat in 1/4 cup of the beaten egg. When blended, repeat with another 1/4 cup of egg, then another and half of the final bit.
The pastry should just hold its shape when lifted in the spoon. Beat in the remaining egg by dribbles to be sure the pastry is not too loose.
Use a pastry bag or spoon small amounts onto a greased cookie sheet. Brush glaze over tops - 1 egg, 1 water and a pinch of salt blended together and strained. Bake in preheated 425-degree oven about 20 minutes, shifting sheets half-way through. They should double in size, be a nice golden brown and crisp to the touch. Rapidly remove from oven and make a slash in each to let out steam. Return to the turned-off oven for 5 minutes. Cool.
Fill with a mixture of:
2 cups crab meat
3 tablespoons finely minced celery
1 tablespoon finely
minced shallots or scallions
Flavor with drops of lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, and 2-3 tablespoons finely minced parsley
Fold in 1/4 to 1/3 cup mayonnaise, just enough to bind
Shortly before serving, split the puffs in half horizontally and spoon in the filling.
And "A vast array of fresh vegetables can be the glory of any meal when lovingly cooked." - such as Julia's
6 large or 12 small leeks
(1 or 2 per person)
water or chicken broth
salt and pepper
2 or more tablespoons butter
Trim the root ends of the leeks, being careful to keep the leaves attached. Remove any wilted leaves and cut off the tops to leave the leeks 6-7 inches long. Slit each lengthwise down to where the white begins; give the leek a quarter turn and slit again. Wash very thoroughly under cold running water, spreading each leaf apart to rinse off all dirt and grit. If leeks are fat, cut them in half lengthwise.
Arrange leeks in buttered baking pan; pour in water to come halfway up the leeks, salt lightly and dot with butter. Cover with buttered wax paper and foil and either simmer 15-20 minutes on top of the stove, basting several times, or bake 30-40 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Serves 6.
The reason this beef stew "is so famous is that it has such good flavor, which depends in the first instance on
a fine cut of meat, a good fruity wine and dark stock."
3-4 pounds stew beef
5-6 cups liquid, all red wine or a mixture of red wine and beef stock
2-3 large unpeeled cloves
of garlic, smashed
2 cups tomatoes (1 whole unpeeled tomato, cored and chopped, plus canned drained Italian plum tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon thyme
Dry the meat (damp meat won't brown); over moderately high heat, brown meat in hot oil turning frequently 3-5 minutes. When done, put into casserole; scrape browning pan into casserole, too. Add other ingredients and bake 21/2-3 hours at 325-degrees, until just fork tender.
Meanwhile, prepare onions and mushrooms.
In a pan just roomy enough to hold them in one layer,
sauté 24 peeled onions in a little clarified butter or oil, swirling the pan to turn them. Add a little red wine and dash of salt; cover and simmer slowly 25-30 minutes until tender.
In a skillet over high heat, melt 1/2 tablespoon butter with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, toss in 3 cups mushrooms, quartered, and sauté, swirling the pan for several minutes.
When stew is done, fold into it the onions and mushrooms with their juices; simmer 2 minutes to blend flavors. Serves 6-8.
Copyright. Marian Platt, Sequim, 2009
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