Ladies and Gentlemen, once again, Julia Child

I think I must have used every pot in the kitchen!

I did warn in an earlier blog that I may be reviewing recipes in Julia’s famous “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” cookbook and posting my results, and here we are.  I made Daube de Boeuf several weeks ago, but haven’t got around to blogging because I just finished cleaning up the kitchen after making it -!  (joke)

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No shortcut here!

First, I was surprised that the beef was marinated.  I don’t know what to expect of French cuisine, but for some reason, I thought marinating was more of an American thing.  But what are most Americans today but displaced peoples from other countries?  Of course, there was much chopping, slicing and prepping and I realized later on that I could have taken a short cut with the tomatoes, but as always, I wanted to be true to the recipe and blanched, peeled and seeded the tomatoes.

 Now I shall contradict myself.  Julia Child seems to like boiling her bacon first.  In all the recipes I have made that use bacon, she always wants you to boil it for at least 10 minutes before using.  Does anyone know why?  I have never done that and I’ve always been very happy with the results.  I know that when I lived in England, their bacon was thicker and, well, more flavorful than the garden variety one finds at  American stores.  (I do miss that!)  Is French bacon saltier or something?  Anyone?  So I don’t always stay true to the recipe.  sigh

I also did not lard the meat because she didn’t insist, but the option was there.  She describes this term as inserting larding pork or blanched bacon (there we are again!) through each piece of meat.  Considering that it’s a casserole, and the beef is cut into 2 1/2″ pieces, larding would have taken way too long.  Probably why she didn’t insist on it!

This recipe didn’t seem so long to prepare as other main dishes from this book, only about two hours.  That’s not including the marinading time, which was at least three hours.  However, the amount of cookware involved in the prep seemed to be right on target with everything else I have made!  It truly did take awhile to clean up, and that’s even counting the clean as you go system.  So total time spent on this wonderful casserole was probably about five hours.  I cannot begin to imagine cooking from this book every night and working a full-time job such as Julie Powell did.  I am a stay at home goddess, and I find my occasional forays challenging enough!

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After cooking in the oven for three hours, the aroma suffused the house with savory deliciousness!
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Close up! I can remember the taste by looking at this….yummm.

After having said all that, I did not get any pictures of this delicious dish being plated.  I did get a few in the pot just before I started gobbling it down, but no pretty ones.  boo-hoo  Oh, well, we’ll catch it next time!   As Julia Child would say, “Bon appetit!”

Julia Child’s Coq Au Vin

Like so many people my age, we were aware of Julia Child in a peripheral sort of way.  We knew she was a woman who cooked and had television shows and quite a number of cookbooks.  The term “foodie” had not yet been invented, and the culinary arts weren’t the enormous enterprise they have become today.  (Does anyone remember the Galloping Gourmet, Graham Kerr?)  It wasn’t until I saw “Julie/Julia” that I had to run out and buy Julia Child’s co-written premier cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” at the tender age of 47.  Unlike Julie Powell, I have not, and will not repeat her project of cooking every recipe in the book; however,  I have dabbled in a few chapters here and there.  I now know how to make an omelet, something I had been making totally wrong before.  I can whip up a mean tomato sauce that works on spaghetti as well as chili (I can’t think of anything French that I have needed it for!)  I have also served her famous Bouef  Bourguignon and found it most tasty.  Her mayonnaise recipe is wonderful and the directions that she gives are so intrinsically….her you can almost imagine she’s talking directly to you.  I suppose it was this running narrative throughout the book that helped make it such a big hit.  Well, that and the good food.

Anyway, I spent four hours in the kitchen concocting her Coq au Vin.  I’m not a huge fan of mushrooms, but it didn’t seem to matter.  The sauce was delicious!  Even the onions were cooked in a special way for this recipe, which, incidentally, is the same onion recipe she employs in her Bouef Bourguignon recipe.  I did double the amount so my husband could enjoy this for his dinner away from home.  And I did use the instructions she gave for an electric skillet, because the amount we had was so huge it wouldn’t fit in a regular 10 or 12-inch pan.  I may have misread the recipe, but I don’t think so.  About halfway through her directions, she totally drops the ball on any electric skillet temperatures, so I had to figure it out myself.  I was capable, of course, but if I had been a newbie cook and was really needing some numbers, this might not have turned out so well.

All in all, it was a good experience.  If you’re looking for some old-school recipes that were devised before such widespread worries as calories, cholesterol, carbohydrates, etc., nip on down to your local bookstore or peruse your online book purveyor and grab this gem.  Be prepared to spend some time in the kitchen, but also be prepared for callouses on your back as you pat yourself for creating such wonderfully rich and satisfying food!

P.S. – I will probably add a few more Julia Child recipes to my blog, as she has become a fave in my kitchen!

Cook of the House

I am not the cook in our family, but fortunately, we do have one.  A serious one.  My daughter Rachel researched her culinary schools and found San Francisco’s California Culinary Academy fit enough to meet her tough criteria.  At least, the curriculum as it was in 2007/2008.  After a hard day at work, literally cooking in ambient temperatures of 100°F plus (thank you California weather), she unwinds by….cooking.  On her days off, she researches new culinary methods, cookbooks and techniques.  So you understand when I say she is serious.

Being serious doesn’t mean somber.  Not in her world.  She saw these whimsical cookie cutters online and had to have them.  This is a visual document of her playing with them.