You may notice a new badge on Food Gypsy this week as we join the voices celebrating what would have been Julia Child’s 100th birthday in August of this year! JC100 is a nation-wide campaign involving restaurants, chefs, bookstores, and bloggers, celebrating Julia and her legacy.
Like many, I grew up watching Julia Child on television. Her devil-may-care attitude and “one splash of brandy for the dish, one for the cook”, “above all have a good time” attitude inspired a similar approach in my kitchen. In particular I was fond of her later shows with Jacques Pepin (Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home), how they would both approach the same dish from a different perspective; Child as a teacher and advocate of French Cuisine and Pepin as a professional Chef, from France. They would discuss and argue over technique and ingredients, all with the undertone of respect and humor.
It’s interesting how this dynamic now plays out in my own kitchen, me the passionate student and food advocate, my darling Chef B, the professional Chef… from France.
I feel a personal connection to Julia Child, because her writing literally changed my life. For many it was her iconic Mastering the Art of French Cooking (volumes 1 & 2) that brought them to French Cuisine. For me it was “My life in France” a personal peek into Julia’s time in post war France and her discovery of French food and culture, told in her own voice through personal letters. It was a life changing read.
Julia’s time in Paris was her epiphany, it inspired her 40-year love affair with food and the start of a cooking revolution in America.
Alone in my kitchen at Dragonfly Inn in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, My Life In France introduced me to French technique beginning with the simplest ingredients: eggs. Julia’s colourful account of being re-schooled in scrambling an egg in her first lesson at Le Cordon Bleu Paris encouraged me to immediately taste-test the method, and that’s when cooking changed for me in 2007.
Start with a cold pan, smear it liberally with butter and place it over a very low heat. Immediately add lightly beaten eggs, seasoned with salt & pepper, pouring them gently into the cold pan. Allow to cook slowly, thickening to a custard like consistency over the course of three minutes or so. Then begin to pull the eggs curds together with a spoon or spatula, cooking slow and low, leaving the eggs a bit ‘wet’, but warmed through.
This changed scrambed eggs for me, and I was hooked, I began reading everything Julia.
After selling the business in 2010, I enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu, Ottawa to give my cooking, and associated writings, a more solid foundation. That’s where I met a charming French Chef with a soft spot for butter (and salt) who is now, some time later, my betrothed. I never get tired of telling the story of how he used to move my scorching butter in class, it’s part of the love story that is Food Gypsy.
We join JC100 in progress (launched May 9th), with weekly recipes based on Julia’s published works. We’ve been sidetracked by life of late, so we’ll bring you up to speed with the recipes covered so far and a couple of social media links so you can enjoy the many takes on Child’s recipes.
We hope our readers will follow along, exploring Julia’s considerable legacy through food. We will pick and choose as recipes are selcted week to week, you can follow along on Facebook and on twitter @JC100 or #JC100
A recap of the recipes covered so far with JC100:
Week 1: Julia’s classic Omelette Roulée (Rolled Omelette) — “dinner in half a minute,” as she described it on “The French Chef.”
Week 2: Her luscious and decadent Chocolate Mousse from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1. This recipe is about technique, with perfectly melted chocolate and gently folded egg whites.
Week 3: Coq au vin, from The Way to Cook, Julia Childs’s “magnum opus.” This dish has several components, so be sure to refer to the document entitled Coq-au-vin-additions.pdf for the onion and mushroom preparations.
Week 4: Salade Nicoise: Excerpted from The Way to Cook by Julia Child a light, fresh summer salad from the south of France.
Week 5: Vichyssoise, the traditional French leek and potato soup, served cold. This recipe appears in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1.
We have had a great deal on our plate in the last month and are now starting to breathe again. We may come back and visit some of the opening recipes at another time, but for now we join JC100 in progress with our take on Salade Nicoise (coming up next on Food Gypsy). This was a dish that was covered in my studies at Le Cordon Bleu, but being a busy student, I didn’t have a great deal of time to detail the many recipes covered. (I was much more concentrated on keeping my fingers whole!) This opportunity to share with you many of Julia Child’s recipes will give us a bit of time to explore the world of French Cuisine with a few fresh takes of our own.
French food isn’t as scary and complicated as you might think, as Julia would say “Bon Appetit!”