Saturday, August 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Julia

Today is Julia Child's day of birth. As a young homemaker I watched Julia, read her cookbooks and experimented in the kitchen. I read a lot about French cuisine and while I admired Julia's devotion I didn't feel the same. It wasn't me. I chose to slave over other cuisines and learn about them and make the dishes best known. Like most Americans I enjoy Italian but I'm crazy about all Mediterranean cooking, Asian and Latin and Spanish flavors. I also adore regional American cooking . Of course many American dishes are rooted in older cuisines and no doubt lots of French cooking lurks in those dishes so I'll have to be a little less judgemental.

To celebrate the woman who is one of my muses I chose to make some French dishes from Julia's collection. I am creating a somewhat casual summer meal to be enjoyed outside. Julia's birthday is close to mine so I am celebrating my cooking as well. For the hors d'oeuvre I chose a recipe from another of my muses - my Dad. Can men be muses? I don't know but he is. He makes a toothsome brie with brown sugar, scotch and pecans baked on top. It is awesome. I'll make Salade Nicoise with fresh grilled tuna, vegetables and nicoise olives napped with a lemon vinaigrette. I ran across Julia's recipe for vichyssoise. It is a pureed leek and potato soup served chilled. I decided to make it because I have a wonderful memory from my childhood. On one of our family vacations we toured New England. For dinner one night we had a great meal at the Woodstock Inn in Vermont. Dad ordered vichyssoise and I just couldn't understand what it was. So he explained and shared. I chose to add that to the menu for the sake of history. I made it today and it is silken in texture.

For dessert I made Julia's flaky pie crust. It makes enough for four crusts so I froze some. This dough has 6 ounces of butter and 1 3/4 cups of shortening! Oh my! I made the dough into a tart shell. Apricots are gorgeous so I poached fresh apricots and then allowed them to drain. On the bottom of the tart shell I painted strained apricot preserves with a little triple sec stirred in. On top of that I put in a filling of cream, egg, cream cheese and spices. Finally I placed the poached apricots on top and baked the tart. When it was done baking I spooned more of the apricot/triple sec mixture over the top as a sweet glaze. The filling isn't sweet so the glaze and the preserves painted on the bottom of the crust should give it a very French sensibility.

So that's the simple meal to honor a wonderful American who changed home cooking for ever! Bon Appetit!

1 comment:

  1. There is NO better French Onion soup than Miss Julia' my humble opinion ;-)