Happy Birthday, Julia!
Born August 15 in Pasadena, Julia Child lived up to her 6-foot-2 stature.
The chef, author and television personality was a towering presence of American gastronomy during the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s, and beyond with a signature style that was both exuberant and witty. She introduced average Americans to French cuisine and was a pioneer of television cooking shows. A 1966 Time magazine cover story about her was titled “Our Lady of the Ladle.”
Julia fell in love with French cuisine (during a meal of oysters and sole meunière), and when it was published in 1961, the book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, was an instant best-seller and catapulted her to fame. She published more than 20 cookbooks, and became a cultural icon. Her cheerfulness, enthusiasm, and straightforward delivery attracted legions of fans.
I was fortunate to meet her several times and joined in a celebration of her 90th birthday. Here are three recipes she inspired.
Classic Caesar Salad
1 1?2 cups olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
8 oz. stale crusty Italian or French white bread, cut into 1? cubes
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 1?2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1?2 tsp. hot sauce, such as Tabasco
4 oil-packed anchovy filets, drained and roughly chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 oz. whole romaine lettuce leaves, inner leaves only
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup finely grated Parmesan
Heat 1 cup oil and 1 clove garlic in a 12? skillet over medium heat. Add bread, and cook, tossing often, until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain, and set aside.
Rub remaining garlic over inside of a large wooden serving bowl, and leave in bowl. Add juice, Worcestershire, hot sauce, anchovies, and salt and pepper, and whisk until anchovies are broken down. Add remaining oil, and whisk until just blended. Add lettuce leaves, and toss to coat in dressing; drizzle egg over leaves, and toss again until evenly coated. Add reserved croutons, Parmesan, and salt and pepper, and toss until evenly combined; serve immediately.
Julia’s Garlic Mashed Potatoes
30 cloves garlic, unpeeled
8 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. flour
1 cup whole milk
2 1?2 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1? pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
1?4 cup heavy whipping cream
1?4 cup minced parsley
Boil garlic in a 1-qt. saucepan of water 2 minutes; drain and peel. Melt 4 tbsp. butter in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium. Cook garlic until soft, 15–20 minutes. Stir in flour; cook 2 minutes. Stir in milk; cook until thickened, 3–4 minutes. Transfer to a blender; purée into a smooth sauce. Cook potatoes in salted boiling water until tender, about 15 minutes; drain and pass through a potato ricer back into the pan. Stir in remaining butter, reserved sauce, the cream, parsley, salt, and pepper; cook 2 minutes more
Salt, to taste
2 lobsters (about 1 1/2 lbs. each)
2 cups milk
7 tbsp. unsalted butter
1?4 cup flour
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 shallots, finely chopped
1?2 lb. cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 cup white wine
1 1?2 cups heavy cream
1 tbsp. finely chopped chervil
1?8 tsp. cayenne
1?2 tsp. dry mustard
1?2 lb. Gruyère, grated
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add lobsters; boil for 5 minutes. Drain; halve each lengthwise. Remove and crack claws. Remove meat from bodies and claws; cut into chunks. Scrape shells’ insides clean; set meat and shells aside.
Bring milk to a boil; set aside. Melt 4 tbsp. of the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add flour and cook until golden, 1–2 minutes. Add milk while whisking; increase heat to medium; boil. Cook, stirring, until thickened, 2–3 minutes. Add nutmeg and salt and pepper; keep sauce warm.
Heat broiler. Heat remaining 3 tbsp. of the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots; cook until golden, 1–2 minutes. Add mushrooms; cook until softened, 4–5 minutes. Add wine; cook until reduced by two-thirds, 4–5 minutes. Whisk in cream, chervil, cayenne, and reserved sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until thickened, 3–4 minutes. Add lobster; stir in mustard and 3?4 cup cheese. Divide half of lobster sauce between shells; sprinkle remaining cheese over top. Broil lobster halves on a baking sheet until bubbly, 2–3 minutes. Serve with remaining sauce.
Sir Verde’s Wine Suggestion: Chardonnay is the go-to for anything Lobster. American styles work very well. I’ve never been disappointed with Oregon’s King Estate. Serve their 2017 Willamette Valley Chardonnay and toast the legacy of Julia Child.
Bonne dégustation. Love One Another.