“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” ― Julia Child
#SundaySupper is on a mission to bring back Sunday Supper around the family table in every home. Join us every Sunday with great recipes and inspiration. In honor of Julia Child’s 100th Birthday, we’re celebrating this legend by cooking our favorite Julia Child dish this Sunday! Bon appétit!
Most of my peers went home after school to watch this new channel called MTV. We didn’t have cable to so we were limited to our 13 channels. I couldn’t watch any of the cool music videos, but was happy with PBS and our Canadian channels. There were less than a handful of cooking shows at the time and I watched two of them religiously. I welcomed Julia Child in my family room every afternoon followed by Wok with Yan (Canadian broadcast). I was unfamiliar with both cuisines, but always learned something from every episode. Child was an enthralling figure to watch. It was obvious she was a large woman even on our 19-inch console television, but she moved about her kitchen effortlessly. She was confident and comfortable in her domain, cooked without a recipe card and just had fun. She made a pre-teen like me feel like I could march upstairs and easily whip up a pot of bouillabaisse or beef bourguignon. My favorite part of the show was when she sat down to eat her creation. She poured herself a glass of wine, said a few words about the dish, and signed off with “This is Julia Child. Bon appétit!”
Way before I knew how these shows were produced, I naively thought she was cooking in her actual home in this amazing and open kitchen. I wanted that island. I wanted the awesomely thick cutting board. I wanted all her knives. It was a plentiful kitchen which had every ingredient. I wanted to visit, cook, and eat with her.
I noticed that she wasn’t particularly careful or clean. I loved how she added this and that ingredient and her enthusiastic reactions convinced me that it was perfectly seasoned. I wanted to cook like that – without measuring spoons and cups. I tried to imitate her in the kitchen and it always ended in disappointment for me, but it did not deter me from trying again.
My mother cooked similarly to Child, but of course we didn’t have the trappings of a t.v. studio. She had one trusty knife with a well-worn handle, one cutting board, and had all her seasonings in mismatched jars and bottles. She never referred to a cookbook unless it was for an American recipe and even then, she loosely followed it adding her own flair. She added this and that and it always (ok, almost always) turned out perfectly.
Amazingly, my mother allowed me free reign in the kitchen and my parents were always willing guinea pigs. I remember wanting to try to make bread once and not having a couple of the ingredients, but optimistic that a soft loaf of bread would still come out of the oven. I was successful in producing a very pale and cakey brick. I couldn’t stomach my butter-laden slice. My mother took a nibble and just stated the obvious, “It’s like a rock.” And my ever-encouraging dad finished his slab of “breadrock” and claimed, “DELICIOUS” in a bombastic tone that very well inferred the opposite.
I looked forward to home economics cooking class in junior high. After 0.99% success rate in the kitchen at home, I was ready for some formal instruction. Mrs. Coughlin was our teacher and she was the best. I took this class VERY seriously and did not want to disappoint her. I mean, I did come in with some experience under my belt! I always made the biggest mess in my station, but I didn’t care! I was cooking! Finally! I thought the bigger the mess, the better the food tasted. I mean, that’s how Julia Child did it, right?
In celebration of Julia’s 100th Birthday, I made a classic french dish called blanquette de veau a l’ancienne (veal stew with onions and mushrooms) with concombres au beurre (baked cucumbers), and parslied boiled potatoes. I chose this dish because it’s the one dish I distinctly remember making from cooking class at the French Culinary Institute. This seemingly simple dish, veal stew in a white sauce, took an amazing amount of time and effort. It was a dish that needed to be babysat. But if every step was done correctly, the results were very rewarding. The subtle and wonderful flavors really sing in this humble-looking dish. Child writes “No other vegetables are needed with the mushrooms and onions, but you can include green peas, artichoke hearts, or baked cucumbers.”
And that’s what I did. I baked some cucumbers because it was something that I’ve never heard of or tried before. I also boiled about a pound of new potatoes in their skin, drained it. I threw in a pat of butter, some olive oil, salt, pepper, and parsley. I wanted a starch that wasn’t overwhelming in flavors, but would be able to soak up some of the creamy velouté from the main dish.
Blanquette de veau a l’ancienne (veal stew with onions and mushrooms)
I didn’t stray too much from the original recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1. I used 2 pounds of veal stew meat versus 3 pounds. I also used boxed chicken broth whenever veal stock was used in the recipe.
Concombres au buerre (baked cucumbers)
Serves about 4-6 people
3 medium English cucumbers, peeled
2 Tablespoons wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon sugar
3 Tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
3-4 Tablespoons minced green onions
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 – Cut the cucumbers lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Cut crosswise in 2-inch sections.
2 – Cut the cucumbers lengthwise in 1/4-inch strips.
3 – In a medium bowl, toss the cucumber slices with the vinegar, salt, and sugar. Let stand for at least 30 minutes. Drain.
4 – Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
5 – In a medium-sized baking dish (about 11″ x 9″), add drained cucumbers, butter, dill, green onions, and pepper, and toss well.
6- Bake uncovered on the middle rack for about 1 hour, tossing the cucumbers 2-3 times while it’s baking. The dish will be done when the edges look a little dried and the cucumbers are tender. Serve warm.
“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a ‘What the hell?’ attitude.” ― Julia Child
Join us this week at 3pm EST with these fabulous recipes being showcased and ends with our #SundaySupper live chat at 7pm EST. This is a #SundaySupper you don’t want to miss!
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