Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Julia's Sauce Bearnaise

On August 2nd I made my first Bearnaise. I've certainly eaten my fair share in restaurants but never attempted to make it on my own. But I wasn't alone. Julia's recipe was written beautifully and I followed Peter's advice to read it three times. I felt like an expert and the result was perfect. BTW, I grew my own tarragon this summer so it was cut minutes before using, rather than the often wilted stuff from the grocery store. It made a difference. I served it with steak for my Man.
DMJ in Brooklyn

NY Times article Julia on the bestseller list...

August 24, 2009
After 48 Years, Julia Child Has a Big Best Seller, Butter and All
Almost 48 years after it was first published, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child is finally topping the best-seller list, bringing with it all the butter, salt and goose fat that home chefs had largely abandoned in the age of Lipitor.
The book, given a huge lift from the recently released movie “Julie & Julia,” sold 22,000 copies in the most recent week tracked, according to Nielsen BookScan, which follows book sales. That is more copies than were sold in any full year since the book’s appearance, according to Alfred A. Knopf, which published it.
The book will make its debut at No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list of Aug. 30 in the advice and how-to category.
“In a month, I’ve sold almost seven times what I sell, typically, in a year of ‘Mastering,’ and it’s going to get even higher,” said Lee Stern, the cookbook buyer for Barnes & Noble. “It’s amazing.”
Amazing not just because the book is almost half a century old, costs $40 and contains 752 pages of labor-intensive and time-consuming recipes — the art of French cooking is indeed hard to master — but also for what those recipes contain.
In a decade when cookbooks promise 20-minute dinners that are light on calories, Ms. Child’s recipes feature instructions like “thin out with more spoonfuls of cream” (Veau Prince Orloff, or veal with onions and mushrooms, pages 355-7) or “sauté the bacon in the butter for several minutes” (Navets à la Champenoise, or turnip casserole, pages 488-9). And for a generation raised to believe that Jell-O should have marshmallows in it, there is plenty of aspic — the kind made with meat.
Readers who only recently opened the book, and have been blogging and tweeting about it, have found some anachronistic surprises.
“I’m looking at these ingredients going, Oh, sweet Lord, we’ll die,” said Melissah Bruce-Weiner, 45, a resident of Lakeland, Fla., who bought the book on her way home from seeing the movie. Horrified by the prospect of cooking with pork fat, she tried her own variation of boeuf bourguignon, which she called “beef fauxguignon.”
“I know why all of the greatest generation has died of heart attacks,” she said. “I actually did a can of cream of mushroom soup, and a can of French onion soup, and a can of red wine — it was the same can — I filled it with the bottle that I had been drinking the night before.
“Yes, Julia Child rolled over in her grave when I opened the cream of mushroom soup, I’m pretty sure of that. But you know what? That’s our world.”
Mindy Lockard, 34, of Eugene, Ore., made Poulet Sauté aux Herbes de Provence, which calls for a whole stick of butter, for a recent dinner party.
“I found the recipes, actually, much easier than I thought they were going to be, but the amount of butter was a bit overwhelming,” she said. “There’s a picture of me cooking, and I have this glow, and it’s from too much hot butter. I expected to break out the next day.
“My husband loved it and asked if we could have it again the next day. I actually said, we probably shouldn’t have this in the same month.”
Ms. Child, who died in 2004 at the age of 91, liked to say, “ ‘Oh, butter never hurts you,’ ” her editor, Judith Jones, recalls. “In this country, we sort of have a love-hate relationship with food — we love it, but we’re also afraid of this whole fear-of-fat mania.”
Mireille Guiliano, the author of “French Women Don’t Get Fat,” said there are reasons why American and French bodies respond differently to the same fatty ingredients.
For starters, the French eat more fruits and vegetables, and they walk more, she said. And then there is portion size. “The French simply eat much less,” she said.
Some of that is alluded to in the movie “Julie & Julia,” which combines scenes from Ms. Child’s discovery of cooking while in France with the true story of a modern blogger who decides to cook her way through “Mastering the Art.”
“Mastering the Art” — co-written by Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, and the first of two volumes — is not the only book that has gotten a lift from the movie. The book “Julie & Julia,” which was written by the blogger Julie Powell and was the basis for the movie, has been reprinted 13 times this year in movie tie-in versions by publisher Little, Brown.
The movie editions of “My Life in France,” the 2006 book that chronicles Ms. Child’s years there and provided biographical material for the movie, have been reprinted nine times by Knopf.
Knopf has also reprinted “Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom” six times this year, and it will top the Aug. 30 Book Review list of advice and how-to paperbacks. According to BookScan, which tracks roughly 75 percent of the book market, it is the second-best-selling cookbook in the country, behind “Mastering” and ahead of more contemporary titles like “Cook Yourself Thin: Skinny Meals You Can Make in Minutes” and “Hungry Girl: 200 Under 200,” a book of recipes under 200 calories.
As for “Mastering the Art,” even discount stores that have never stocked the book, like Sam’s Club, are putting in orders.
“We won’t be caught up for a while,” said Paul Bogaards, a spokesman for Knopf.
Part of the sales can be credited to movie promotions from Columbia Pictures, which released the film. “Basically, we just integrated it into everything we did, so if we had radio promos, we’d give away the book; if we had screenings, we’d give away the book,” said Marc Weinstock, president of worldwide theatrical marketing for Sony Pictures, Columbia’s parent company.
But booksellers were still startled by the demand for new copies. The Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle and Barbara’s Bookstore, based in Chicago, have both run out of “Mastering the Art” recently. At Powell’s Books in Portland, managers had ordered extra books for a Julia Child promotional section.
“Pretty much by the Sunday after the movie opened, it just looked like a bomb hit it,” said Gerry Donaghy, the purchasing supervisor for new books at Powell’s.
And at Canio’s Books in Sag Harbor, N.Y., “My Life in France” has been “flying, flying off the shelves,” said a co-owner, Maryann Calendrille. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Nora Ephron, the film’s writer and director, said she had hoped to inspire more cooking.
“This was a secret dream,” Ms. Ephron said, “that the movie would sell a lot of books.”
She added: “I’m completely delighted that people are walking out of the multiplex and into the bookstore.”

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Who's ready to try an ASPIC?

Frank and I were talking and thought it might be fun to try making an aspic? Any takers.....

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Souffle au Fromage, Breakfast 8/15/09 11:30 AM

Souffle au fromage, garden tomatoes, crispy thick bacon

Wanted to get my Julia groove on early and praised her throughout for her dedication and precision. I used the 8" diameter Bennington Potter dish Stephen gave me. The recommended 6" or 4" diameter dishes would have given more height.

I lined the buttered dish with homemade breadcrumbs and this made the edge and bottom delicious. The interior was creamy and smooth; I stuck strictly to the recommended seasoning levels to be sure I got that taste.

If you're feeding someone like Rudy, be sure to heed Julia's advice: There should be no lingering when a souffle is to be eaten. Julia's words and food made for a special Saturday morning at-home for two.

Happy Birthday Julia - Soufflé de Crabe

Sorry for the order of the pictures - still learning!

I just put the scallops in the little food processor and they were puree in seconds. The Madeira wine really made the dish - and the scallops provided some complexity that made it rich and filling.

The recipe called for ground flounder but I used scallops instead.

It was a lovely day and we ate outside and finished the whole thing between the two us.

I served it with Champagne de Lattaignant - one of the last bottles from our trip to Reims.

I gave the smaller one to our Thai neighboor - she's always making things for us.

My mixture with the flour, butter, milk and egg yolks was thinner than what Julia said it should be - but it got so thick I added a little white wine. I used gruyere on the pans and emmentaler in the souffle - I added the cheese to the egg yolk mixture instead of the egg whites.

Didn't have any trouble with the egg whites - just a pinch of salt.

Lobster would have been easier - It only took me about a half hour to shell the crab!
I coulnd't get lobster because of the annual mussel festival in Yerseke - all the streets were closed - couldn't get chicken food either! So I opted for crab claws at the fish store in Goes.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Saturday is Julia's birthday....

...but she won't be hurt if you can't cook with us on saturday, august 15th...do it on sunday - next week - next month - but this year!

Birthday preparations - soufflé de homard

Martha is not the only one with her own fresh eggs. I've decided to go for the soufflé - here's the recipe - just in case you want to try and don't have the book.
soufflé de homard
- prepare your mold with a tsp of butter and 1 tlb of grated swiss cheese
- melt 2 1/2 tsp of flour with 3 tlb of butter - add 1 cup boiling milk - add 3/4 ground raw flounder filets (not sure i'll use flounder - will let you know) and cook for 2 minutes
- off the heat beat in 4 egg yolks - salt and pepper
- earlier having prepared the 2/3 cup diced lobster in 2 tlb of butter en 3 tlb of madeira, just melt all the shit together and boil off the liquid quickly and let it cool off
- whip 5 egg whites stiff with salt and 1/3 cup grated swiss cheese and gently fold this into the soufflé base sauce you just made
- layer egg whites in mold - lobster - egg whites - lobster - egg whites
- sprinkle with grated cheese
- bake in middle of oven starting at 400 - reducing to 375 - 30 minutes
- serve immediately
I'll take pictures tomorrow and let you know how it all worked out. I'm thinking about serving it with
sauce mousseline sabayon
- heat over low heat 3 egg yolks - 1/2 cup cream - 1/4 cup fish liquor - don't overheat!
- when it starts to thicken take it off the heat and beat in 6 oz of butter 1 oz at a time.
It's another serve immediately. Very demanding this French cooking!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Clafouti aux Pruneaux

page 657 from mastering the art of french cooking...
a plum flan - it didn't puff-up as much as i thought it would but it looks good...I used golden plums because that's we have the most of right now - they're from our own garden. I couldn't find an oven temperature in the recipe so i guessed at 360 - I'm gonna try a piece right now...other fotos plums before hand with the blender - so easy - and the plums after peeling which was a piece of cake....

It was delicisous - now I see why she calls it a Flan - custard like - the cognac makes it!

Friday, August 7, 2009

NY Times Review Julie & Julia

August 7, 2009
Two for the Stove

Published: August 7, 2009
In an understated but nonetheless climactic scene in Nora Ephron’s “Julie & Julia,” Julia Child (Meryl Streep) and her editor, Judith Jones (Erin Dilly), struggle to come up with a title for the culinary doorstopper Julia has spent the past eight years composing. It’s not an especially suspenseful moment — pretty much anyone who has cooked an omelet knows what the book is called — but it gives Ms. Ephron and the audience a chance to savor the precise nature of Julia Child’s achievement.
The book is “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” — not “How To” or “Made Easy” or “For Dummies,” but “Mastering the Art.” In other words, cooking that omelet is part of a demanding, exalted discipline not to be entered into frivolously or casually. But at the same time: You can do it. It is a matter of technique, of skill, of practice.
The impact of that first volume of “Mastering the Art,” and of Child’s subsequent television career (which is mostly tangential to the movie’s concerns), is hard to overstate. The book stands with a few other postwar touchstones — including Dr. Benjamin Spock’s “Baby and Child Care,” the Kinsey Report and Dr. Seuss’s “Cat in the Hat” — as a publication that fundamentally altered the way a basic human activity was perceived and pursued.
Not that Ms. Ephron’s breezy, busy movie traffics in such sweeping historical ideas, except occasionally by implication. Nor does she infuse the happy, well-fed life of her Julia (the main source for whom is a memoir Child wrote with Alex Prud’homme, her great-nephew) with too much grand drama. “Julie & Julia” proceeds with such ease and charm that its audacity — a no-nonsense, plucky self-confidence embodied by the indomitable Julia herself — is easy to miss.
Most strikingly, this is a Hollywood movie about women that is not about the desperate pursuit of men. Marriage is certainly the context both of Julia’s story and of Julie’s (about whom more in a moment), but it is not the point. The point, to invoke the title of a book whose author has an amusing cameo here (played by Frances Sternhagen), is the joy of cooking.
In the vernacular of many American kitchens, “Mastering the Art” is better known simply as “Julia,” and many a kitchen debate has been settled by an appeal to its authority. Should we separate the eggs? Turn the roast? What does Julia say?
In 2002, more than half a century after Julia and her husband, Paul, arrived in France — a debarkation that provides the movie’s opening scene — a young woman named Julie Powell decided to answer that question in the most literal and systematic way imaginable. A would-be writer working at a thankless office job and living with her husband in Long Island City, Queens, Ms. Powell spent a year cooking every single recipe in “Mastering the Art” and writing a blog about the experience. The blog led to the memoir that provided Ms. Ephron’s movie with its title and the lesser half of its narrative.
Trimming some fat from Ms. Powell’s rambling book (and draining some of the juice as well), Ms. Ephron’s script emphasizes the parallels between the lives of her leading characters, who never meet. (They appear on screen together only when Julie watches Julia on television). Julie (Amy Adams) and Julia have loving, supportive husbands — the affable Chris Messina is Eric Powell; the impeccable Stanley Tucci is Paul Child — who only occasionally express impatience with their wives’ gastronomic obsessions. (Paul by arching an eyebrow, Eric by storming out of the apartment.)
Both women take up cooking out of a restless sense of drift — “I need something to dooooo,” Julia exclaims — and both pursue it in the service of a latent but powerful ambition. Publishing success is the happy ending to both tales, and Ms. Ephron, a literary and journalistic star before she was a filmmaker, is unequivocal in her celebration of the joys of such triumph.
Julie, in an early scene, is humiliated by a table full of college friends who flaunt their BlackBerrys, assistants, real estate deals and lucrative glossy-magazine gigs. But by means of failed aspics and triumphant sauces, Julie shows them all up. And Julia, similarly, overcomes the xenophobia and sexism of the French culinary establishment and the myopia of an American publisher and becomes the person we know as Julia Child.
As does Ms. Streep. By now this actress has exhausted every superlative that exists and to suggest that she has outdone herself is only to say that she’s done it again. Her performance goes beyond physical imitation, though she has the rounded shoulders and the fluting voice down perfectly.
Often when gifted actors impersonate real, familiar people, they overshadow the originals, so that, for example, you can’t think of Ray Charles without seeing Jamie Foxx, or Truman Capote without envisioning Philip Seymour Hoffman. But Ms. Streep’s incarnation of Julia Child has the opposite effect, making the real Julia, who died in 2004, more vivid, more alive, than ever.
In Mr. Tucci Ms. Streep finds, as in “The Devil Wears Prada,” a perfect foil. Like the character he plays, he is gallant and self-assured and able to assert a strong sense of his own presence even as he happily cedes the center of attention. Together, their mastery of the art is so perfect that even quiet, transitional scenes between them are delightful. (And when Jane Lynch shows up as Dorothy, Julia’s sister, the delight ascends to an almost indecent level of giddiness).
If only Mr. Tucci and Ms. Streep were in every movie, I thought to myself at one point, as, in a state of rapture, I watched them sit still on a couch looking off into space.
The problem is that when they aren’t on screen in this movie, you can’t help missing them. Ms. Adams is a lovely and subtle performer, but she is overmatched by her co-star and handicapped by the material. Julia Child could whip up a navarin of lamb for lunch, but Meryl Streep eats young actresses for breakfast. Remember Anne Hathaway in “The Devil Wears Prada”? Amanda Seyfried in “Mamma Mia!”? Neither do I.
The deck is further stacked against Ms. Adams by the discrepancy between Ms. Powell’s achievement and Ms. Child’s, and by a corresponding imbalance in Ms. Ephron’s interest in the characters. The conceit of parallel lives is undone by the movie’s condescending treatment of Julie and also by its ardent embrace of the past at the expense of the present.
From the very start, Paris in the late ’40s and early ’50s is — well, it’s postwar Paris, a dream world of fabulous clothes, architecture, sex, food, cigarettes and political intrigue. And New York in 2002 is made, a little unfairly, to seem drab and soulless by comparison. Queens, demographically the most cosmopolitan of the five boroughs and something of a foodie mecca, is treated with easy Manhattanite disdain, as a punch line and punching bag.
The unevenness of “Julie and Julia” is nobody’s fault, really. It arises from an inherent flaw in the film’s premise. Julie is an insecure, enterprising young woman who found a gimmick and scored a book contract. Julia is a figure of such imposing cultural stature that her pots and pans are displayed at the Smithsonian. The fact that Ms. Ephron, like Julie herself, is well aware of this gap does not prevent the film from falling into it. All the filmmaker’s artful whisking can’t quite achieve the light, fluffy emulsion she is trying for.
But an imperfect meal can still have a lot of flavor, and the pleasures offered by this movie should not be disdained. Julia Child knew what to do with a broken sauce or a half-fallen soufflé: serve it anyway, with flair and without apology. What would Julia say? What she always said: Bon appétit!
“Julie and Julia” is rated PG-13. It has mild profanity, and the indulgence — in exquisite moderation — of a few choice vices.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Julie & Julia opening in theaters August 7th

Written and directed by Nora Ephron the movie chronicles two true stories - Julia Child in the early years in France and Julie Powell making all the recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year's time and blogging about her experience....

Thank you DMJ!

Mastering the Art of French Cooking is a wonderful gift - thank you darling! I've never made a souffle and I think Julia is the right person to teach me. I'm going to try the souffle de poisson or even better the souffle de homard! I think I'll try making the souffle first before tackeling the sauce mousseline sabayon.