Saturday night, four friends got together with their spouses to celebrate Julia Child. A dinner menu was put together, copies of the recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking were handed out, and shopping commenced. The plan was for each couple to bring one or two dishes. Our hosts only had to prepare one dish, since they so graciously allowed the rest of us to trash their kitchen cooking the rest of the meal.
After watching the movie Julie and Julia, we thought it would be great fun to cook a dinner using only Julia Child recipes. Sounds easy, right? Wrong!! While the meal turned out great, there were a few fumbles and retakes along the way.
To start with, I couldn’t properly copy a recipe to save my life. Since I was the only one with the actual cookbook, I said that I would be happy to get everyone a copy of their recipes. The only one I got right was the beef recipe – I found it on the internet. The rest of them weren’t so easy. My sister-in-law was responsible for French Onion Soup and a cheesecake tart. I sent her the Onion Soup – I found it on the internet too. Anyway, I had to copy the rest of the recipes – I did that (or I thought I did) and I passed them out. Sister in Law was the first to call saying that she got my email – and the same recipe copied. Great, just great. Now she can cook the onion soup, twice. Off to the copy machine to correct my mistake. I dropped it off with her, only to remember that I never copied the crust recipe – it is on a different page. I fixed that and felt great. Now I could get on with my recipes. Not so fast. One of my other friends called to tell me that I never copied the caramel sauce recipe – it was on a different page too. I really need to learn how to read her cookbook. Ok, so I fixed that and off I went to cook my recipes.
So, I am at home getting ready to start on my recipes. I was making Poulet Sauté aux Herbes de Provence (Chicken sautéed with herbs and garlic, egg yolk and butter sauce) and Gratin de Pommes de Terre Provencal (Scalloped potatoes with onions tomatoes, anchovies, herbs and garlic). I decided to double check the beginning of the potato section to see if I needed to peel the potatoes or not. I learned that there are two kinds of potatoes – I already knew that, but for some bizarre reason I decided to buy bakers; I never buy them! Ask my husband. It has been two years since we have had baked potatoes for dinner. Guess what? I bought the wrong potatoes – I needed boilers, you know Yukons – that is what I always buy. Oh, well, Hubby will be eating bakers for the next couple of days…weeks…whatever. I bought new potatoes and started cooking.
My sister in law had questions about the crust, so I ran over there to show her the cookbook. She was cooking the soup, onions actually – for the second time. She burned the first batch and had to start over. It wasn’t until she referred to the recipe that she realized she forgot to buy the beef broth – that wouldn’t be noticed! We got that little mess taken care of, and started on the crust for the Tart au Fromage Frais (Cream Cheese Tart). That worked like a charm! There was lots of nervousness about the crust, but it went off without a hitch. Great work!
On Saturday afternoon, I checked my Facebook page and saw that one of my Julia partners posted “Caramel Sauce, take two.” I asked her what happened and she said that the sauce turned grainy, so she had to start over. She was making Pommes Normande En Belle Vue (Applesauce caramel mold). The sauce worked out the second time, and the rest of her dessert went well.
We all decided that we now know why Julie cussed a lot as she was cooking her way through the cookbook; we would be too. It isn’t an easy book to follow. I have to say though; I really like some of Julia’s descriptions. The words she chose cracked me up.
Dinner started with Soupe A L’oignon (French onion soup), which I have to say, has to be the best FOS I have ever eaten. My husband doesn’t even like onion soup, and he devoured his bowl. I even get to make it at home just for us! I am excited about that.
After the soup we moved on to the main part of the meal. Our hosts made Boeuf Borguignon (beef stew in red wine with bacon, onions and mushrooms). Funny thing though; when going to buy the rump roast, our host was told that they aren’t called rump roasts anymore – that term is soo 60’s! Ha – of course it is a 60’s term; it’s a Julia Child cookbook! Funny stuff. There were no problems with the beef dish – smelled great and tasted even better. The meat was tender and the sauce was fabulous.
I made Poulet Sauté aux Herbes de Provence (Chicken sautéed with herbs and garlic, egg yolk and butter sauce). while it was very good, I think I screwed it up – or the cookbook was wrong. The recipe called for white wine and lemon juice – I put in mine and also the lemon juice for the asparagus! The sauce was lemony, but good! We ended up having grilled asparagus, since for some strange reason there was no lemon juice for the Asperges Au Naturel with Beurre au Citron (boiled asparagus – hot or cold with lemon butter sauce).
I also made Gratin de Pommes de Terre Provencal (Scalloped potatoes with onions tomatoes, anchovies, herbs and garlic). There were no snafoos with that dish except that I bought the wrong potatoes – Hubby will be eating bakers for a while. The potatoes had a mild Mediterranean flavor – the anchovies, tomatoes, and onions really blended well with the potatoes.
The desserts, I thought, were very good. I was very impressed with the Tart au Fromage Frais (Cream Cheese tart) – the crust was very well done. Never having eaten a cheesecake with a pie type crust before, I had mixed feelings about it. I thought it was a good combination; though, and it worked well together. My sister in law made a sauce for the tart that added, not only color, but also a brightness to the dish.
The Pommes Normande En Belle Vue (Applesauce caramel mold) had a tart crisp flavor that my husband really liked. In fact he liked both of them very much. The caramel sauce had to be cooked twice, as the first batch turned back to granules. The end result, complete with whipped cream was a great end to a perfect dinner.
We had plenty of drinks too. Not only did everyone bring wine to have with dinner, our host opened the bar and made some amazing drinks like Mai Thais and Margaritas. Everything was just so much fun! I am looking forward to the next get together.
Dinner was a great time, and we plan on doing a group meal again. We probably won’t do a Julia dinner, but it was a neat experience to try it once. I will make the onion soup again and maybe some of the other menu items. I think the best part of the meal was just sitting around the table, talking, laughing, and just enjoying the company.