Thursday, August 16, 2012

Happy Belated Birthday Julia Child!

Yesterday, in case you didn't know, would have been Julia Child's 100th birthday. In many ways she is a culinary icon not only for me, but for many across the globe. Her unusual style and her refusal to stay in the kitchen like the good 1950's housewife so many of us are not changed the food business forever.

I mean, who doesn't remember watching her statuesque frame tottering around the kitchen with her very distinctive voice on PBS as a child? I certainly do!

In honor of Julia's birthday and all her culinary creations I decided to make 2 different recipes of hers, to be followed exclusively in their instructions.

Let's hit it!

For the main course I decided to go with something that I knew I could make, French Onion Soup. Julia's recipe is slightly different from mine, but I took a certain comfort in seeing that she uses white wine in hers as well. I really wanted to dive head first into making beef bourguigon, but since it is
August, I felt like it might be too much. Another time, don't you worry!

Aren't these the biggest onions you've ever seen in your whole entire life?? I only used 2 onions for the entire soup! Holy Moly!

Did you know that Julia grew up in California and was a 6'2"? Both she and her sister, Dorothy, were insanely tall women. I can only image the stares Julia received from the French women during her time over there.

How did Julia end up in France all the way from California? Well, during World War II Julia joined the Offices of Strategic Services. From there she lived in Washington, D.C. for several years and was eventually assigned a station in Sri Lanka.

During her time in Sri Lanka Julia met Paul Child. They were soon married and moved to Washington, D.C., until Paul got reassigned to Paris, France. Julia, bored, decided to enroll in culinary classes to learn how to make French food.

After years of espionage work, I'm sure that being a housewife, even in Paris, was quite dull! If you go to the spy museum in D.C. they have an exhibit on Julia's work during the War years. During her time in Paris she went to the famous Le Cordon Bleu and joined a women's cook club, where she met her friends Simone Beck and Louisette Berthole, whom she would go on to write the ever famous, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Julia and Paul eventually ended up back in the USA, in Massachusetts, where she wrote cooking columns for newspapers and landed her own cooking show, The French Chef.

Julia Child's French Onion Soup
Serves 4

2 1/2 lbs Onions, sliced thinly (I used a combination of sweet and red)
8 cups Beef broth
1 c White wine
1/4 c Cognac
1/2 stick Butter
2 tbsp Olive oil
1 tbsp Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Sugar

1. Thinly slice the onions and toss in a large soup pot with the melted butter and oil. Cover and let cook for 10 minutes until the onions are translucent.
2. Add the salt and sugar and turn the heat up to allow the onion to caramelize. Stir frequently so the onions don't burn on the bottom. Cook for about 30 minutes, until the onions are a nice caramel brown color.
3. Stir in the flour and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes. Add 2 cups of the broth, stir, and bring to a simmer. Add the remaining broth, wine, and cognac. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours. You may need to add additional water if too much liquid cooks off.
4. Serve in bowl topped with cheese toast. I used a 1,000 day aged Gouda from TJ's, though Gruyere is generally considered the tradition.

Julia Child's Chocolate Mouse
Serves 4

6 oz Chocolate, please use the good dark stuff here
6 oz Butter
1/4c Coffee, strong and hot
4 eggs, separated
2/3c + 1tbsp Sugar
1 tbsp Water
2 tbsp Dark Rum
1/2 tsp Vanilla
Pinch of salt

1. In a heat-proof bowl microwave the coffee, butter, and chocolate until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Ok, now I know that they didn't have microwaves back in the day and Julia probably used a double boiled, but I took a chocolate making class and that guy said that melting chocolate in the microwave is the best way to go. I haven't looked back. Neither should you.

2. Set the chocolate aside. Prepare an ice bath for the egg yolks. In another heat-proof bowl set over simmering water whip the egg yolks, 2/3c sugar, rum, and water for 3-4 minutes, until the eggs are pale yellow and thick.

Once the eggs are finished, place on top of the ice bath. Continue to whip to cool them and fold in the chocolate mixture.

3. While the egg yolk-chocolate mixture cool off, whip the egg whites, salt, 1tbsp sugar, and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold into the chocolate mixture.

4. Once everything is fully combine pour into serving glasses and cool in the fridge for 4 hours until set. Top with whipped cream!

Several admissions:

1. While I said I was going to follow the instructions to the letter, I didn't. For various reasons, I assure you. Things like I forgot to get dark rum, I used whiskey instead. Then I forgot to add the water to the egg yolk mixture. Opps.
2. I also added some thyme to the soup. I just feel very strongly that thyme and onions go together, it's like peanut butter and jelly or chocolate and peanut butter, they just go!
3. I made a HUGE mess in the kitchen and used every bowl found.

I'm sure you will do the same!


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