Happy Birthday Julia!
August is a special month for those that love Julia Child: On the 7th, Julie & Julia, a movie that intertwines the lives of two women who, though separated by time and space, are both at loose ends…until they discover that with the right combination of passion, fearlessness and butter, anything is possible, opens. The role of Julia Child is played by Meryl Streep. Then, on the 15th, people all over the country will celebrate her birthday by cooking her recipes or dining at their favorite French restaurant.
She was (born Julia Carolyn McWilliams August 15, 1912 – August 13, 2004) was an American chef, author and television personality, who introduced French cuisine and cooking techniques to the American mainstream, through her many cookbooks and television programs. Her most famous works are the 1961 cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and the television series The French Chef, which premiered in 1963 and showcased her fabulous persona.
I had the privilege of meeting Julia Child in early 2000. I was employed at Sur La Table and one morning when I walked into work, I saw a memo that simply said, “Julia is coming!” I was so excited that I danced around the back of the store. I was finally going to meet Julia Child!
On the morning of the book signing the whole staff was at the store ready to greet her. The line of customers, waiting to meet her, snaked through the store and out the door as far as one could see. Everyone was eagerly awaiting her arrival. We all greeted her and then she sat down at a table surrounded by eager fans and she began to sign her books. She was gracious, kind and answered as many questions as she could. She was supposed to sign books for an hour and a half, but she did not stop until every single book was signed. The one thing that stays with me was how she made each person feel like she was there just for them.
Once she finished signing the last person’s book, she came into the back of the store where she chatted with us, posed for pictures and signed our books. Finally it came time for her to say good bye. It was sad to see her go, and it was even harder to hear of her passing, but I still have my signed copy of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. Each time I cook out my signed books, I still flip back and look at her signature and feel so blessed to have been in her presents for that small window of time.
One of my favorite recipe is from “The Way To Cook”
Master Recipe for Pate Brisee Fine
Makes two 9-inch tart shell
1 1/2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1/2 cup plain cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, quarter & diced
1/4 cup (2 ounces) chilled vegetable shortening
1/2 cup ice water, plus droplets more, if needed
Blending flour and butter. have all the ingredients measured our and ready to use. Put the flour, salt and diced butter in the container of the processor and pulse 5 or 6 times to break up the butter roughly. Add the shortening, turn on the machine and immediately pour in the 1/2 cup of ice water then pulse 2 or 3 times. Remove the cover and feel the sough. It should look like a bunch of small lumps and will just hold together in a mass when you press a handful together. (It is important not over mix: it should not mass on the blade of the machine.) If too dry, pulse in droplets more water. From now on work rapidly to keep the dough cold and manageable.
Final Blending. Turn the dough out onto your work surface; press it in to a rough mass. For the final blending, rapidly and roughly, with the heel of your hand , push egg-size clumps of dough out in front of you in a 6-inch smear.
Resting and Chilling. Form the dough into a cake – it should be fairly smooth and pliable. Srap in plastic, slide into a plastic bag and refrigerate. Freshly made dough should chill 2 hours at least, allowing the flour particles to absorb the liquid, as well as to firm the butter and relax the gluten.
The dough will keep 2 day in the refrigerator before the flour will start to turn grayish, but it can be frozen for several months.
Cheese and Bacon Quiche
For a 9-inch quiche, serving 6
Seasonings: salt, freshly ground pepper and nutmeg
The custard: 3 large eggs blended with enough milk or cream to make 1 1/2 cups
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Break up the pieces of bacona nd stew them in the bottom of the shell. Sprinkle on all but a spoonful of the cheese. Season the custoard and pour in to within 1/8 inch of the rim; sprinkle on the rest of the cheese. Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until puffed and browned.
A 9-inch prebaked shell
6 crisp strips of cooked bacon
1/2 cup coarsely grated Swiss cheese