Saturday, February 16, 2013

Valentine's Day with Julia Child

My Valentine's Day was spent in Washington, DC chaperoning 88 seventh graders on their annual class trip. We had a great trip, well, at least until one of the buses broke down on very busy I-95 near Richmond, Virginia. We arrived home weary and three hours late.

The best thing I ate? The ice cream I treated myself to at the café at the Museum of American History. (I was playing with my food in order to create today's photo.) I was served up two big scoops, one of raspberry sorbet and one of vanilla.

Pink for Valentine's Day, of course!

I spent part of the day seeing French art with nine kiddies.  We saw quite a few painting from the 19th century and a few sculptures, including The Kiss, Le Baiser, by Rodin, at the National Gallery of Art.

There are several of these in various museums. This is a small one, not life-sized like the one in Paris near the Orangerie and Tuileries.

I also spent time with Julia.

At the Museum of American History, Julia's kitchen is on display, donated to the museum in 2001. I sat and watched several episodes of The French Chef, including one in which Julia prepares garlic mashed potatoes, one of my favorite dishes. I must admit that I had no idea who Julia Child was until I saw Dan Aykroyd's spoof of her on Saturday Night Live back in the 70's. Watching cooking shows wasn't on my list of things to do back then. I did help my mom with the cooking, but we were not experimenting with French recipes. We were just trying to feed the troops, using whatever we had on hand. Thankfully, we always had a garden and lots of vegetables, even before that was the cool thing to do, as it is today. For us, it was a necessity. I didn't realize how lucky I was, of course.  Do we ever?

Julia's cookbooks are all lined up.

Her Legion of Honor medal, awarded in 2002, is on display,

as is her Emmy. (I think she won three of them.  For a list of her awards and honors, click here.)

Her KitchenAid mixer is blue. Mildred, mine, is white.

Julia truly changed the way Americans looked at food. And it all began with her first meal in France, sole meunière.

Purée de Pommes de Terre à l'Ail
(Garlic Mashed Potatoes)
From Mastering the Art of French Cooking

I will include Julia's comments, as they are very helpful and entertaining.

Two whole heads of garlic will seems like a horrifying amount if you have not made this type of recipe before.  But if less is used, you will regret it, for the long cooking of the garlic removes all of its harsh strength, leaving just a pleasant flavor.  Garlic mashed potatoes go with roast lamb, pork, goose, or sausages.  Although both garlic sauce and potatoes may be cooked in advance, they should be combined only at the last minute; the completed purée loses its nice consistency if it sits too long over heat, or if it is cooked and then reheated.

For 6-8 people

2 heads garlic, about 30 cloves
Separate the garlic cloves.  Drop into boiling water. and boil 2 minutes.  Drain.  Peel.

A 3- to 4- cup, heavy-bottomed saucepan with cover
4 Tbsp. butter
Cook the garlic slowly with the butter in the covered saucepan for about 20 minutes or until very tender  but not browned.

2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup boiling milk
1/4 tsp. salt
Pinch of pepper
A sieve and wooden spoon, or an electric blender
Blend in the flour and stir over low heat until it froths with the butter for 2 minutes without browning.  Off heat, beat in the boiling milk and seasonings.  Boil, stirring, for 1 minute.  Rub the sauce through a sieve or purée it in the electric blender.  Simmer for 2 minutes more.
*May be done ahead of time.  Dot top of sauce with bits of butter to keep a skin from forming.  Reheat when needed.

2 1/2 lbs. baking potatoes
A potato ricer
A 2 1/2 quart enameled saucepan
A wooden spatula or spoon
4 Tbsp. softened butter
Salt and white pepper
Peel and quarter the potatoes.  Drop in boiling salted water to cover, and boil until tender.  Drain immediately and put through a potato ricer.  Place the hot purée in the saucepan and beat with the spatula or spoon for several minutes over moderate heat to evaporate moisture.  As soon as the purée begins to form a film in the bottom of the pan, remove from heat and beat in the butter a tablespoon at a time.  Beat in salt and pepper to taste.
*If not used immediately, set aside uncovered.  To reheat, cover and set over boiling water, beating frequently.

3 to 4 Tbsp. whipping cream
4 Tbsp. minced parsley
A hot, lightly buttered vegetable dish
Shortly before serving, beat in the hot garlic sauce vigorously into the hot potatoes.  Beat in the cream by spoonfuls but do not thin out the purée too much.  Beat in the parsley.  Correct seasoning.  Turn into hot vegetable dish.

Enjoy the video!  (I laugh until I cry every time I watch it...)

Bon appétit, Julia!

No comments: