Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cooking with Julia - take 1

When Julia wrote, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" she used her words intentionally, I think. It really is an art. But, like I often say, I wasn't given the ability to sing, or dance, or create beautiful art work, or organize, or play an instrument. I can, however, cook. Although I think it's been more of "mastering an art" (if you will) than being born with an incredible ability to whip up anything my heart desires. And for the record, no matter how often I try, I cannot make gnocchi. Not at all. I just order that when we go out.

I digress. Here I am to tell you about my adventures with Julia as I work through her "art" of French cooking. I have gone to great lengths, my friends, to master this art. I went to a liquor store, pregnant, at 10 am one morning to buy things that I could not pronounce. I walked in an declared that I was, "mastering the art of French cooking. And I need alcohol." Classy, I know.

I have also ignited, on purpose, a dutch oven full of cognac and chicken and onions. With a toddler playing cars at my feet. This is one of my most proud achievements in this endeavor. Why? Because I did something I was so nervous about (the lighting on fire of my favorite pot). With a child close by. Without burning anything. Next time, I'll try to look a little more professional and then I'll show you how it's done :)

Of the three dishes I have made - french onion soup, coq au vin and Provencal vegetable soup - I liked the coq au vin the best. Maybe it's because I always thought it would be so hard to make and made it a big deal in my head, but really it was pretty easy and, aside from the fire thing, it was just like braising. Plus, it tasted good.

(this picture isn't the most glamorous. It really did look a lot better than this!)

The other dishes were quite tasty, too. There are just a few things I would tweak. Yes, I know, I just told you that I'm going to tweak recipes put into a book by Julia Child herself. That's just how I roll. But I promise it will be worth it! For instance, I don't think I would use cognac in the onion soup again. The flavors are so rich on their own. Plus you add salty swiss (or gruyere) cheese on top. The alcohol just overwhelmed the dish too much. And I only put in half of what the recipe called for!

The vegetable soup, while very good, didn't taste so good leftover. It must have been the potato/pasta in there. Next time I'll either feed a crowd or make a smaller batch. But what's not to love about a soup loaded with veggies and beans and pasta? AND finished off with a pistou!

I haven't made anything else, though. Life has gotten in the way and, honestly, I haven't made dinner for quite some time (thanks to our wonderful friends that have fed us while I've been so sick!!!!). But I have high hopes for this coming week. There have got to be some chicken recipes from Julia that I can find to use up the chicken in our freezer. If not, I'm making Chicken Piccata. Doesn't that just sound wonderful!?


Lauren said...

Oh, Ashley! This is so fun! Please come cook for me someday soon!!!!

young wife&mom said...

very impressive...funny..i was just thinking the other day..that our poor children won't ever like 'real' food, because i cook so boring and 'krafty' if you know what i mean?!
we are all gifted differently...right? at least i have organization to fall back on! ha.

Jeannie said...

see, I'm still freaking out about buying white wine for a recipe.....would chicken broth do it, or do i break down and buy the liquor? I guess i did buy beer for beer bread once....