I confess: I didn’t really grow up on Julia Child the way many people did. Certainly, I was aware of her presence, but my food show watching didn’t really start until more recently, when the Food Network was already in full swing. But the more I cook, the more I appreciate Julia Child and all she did for home cooks and food television. When I saw that PBS was celebrating Julia’s 100th birthday this summer, I couldn’t resist joining in.
I’m a bit ashamed that I don’t even own a Julia Child cookbook, so I headed to the library to check out Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home and Baking with Julia: Savor the Joys of Baking with America’s Best Bakers. As I looked through the books, I realized that Julia cooked a lot of really impressive recipes. As much as I love cooking, I’m not up for spending 3 days making boeuf bourguignon.
Turns out Hulu has all 22 of the episodes of Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home. It’s fun to watch the two cooks interact and amazing how many ideas they get through in a 24 minute show. The salmon episode also includes tips for scaling and cooking whole fish, which I have zero experience with. Guided by the show and the book, I tried out Julia’s recipe for “the simple way” to make Salmon en Papillote.
I made Julia’s Pommes de Terre Dauphinoise for the side, also from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home (the potato episode can be found online here). My potato slices were a bit thicker than called for because I only have a 4mm slicing disc for my food processor and I wasn’t inclined to slice 2 pounds of potatoes by hand. I didn’t have a stovetop and oven-safe casserole dish, so I made the potatoes in a large skillet. I found the potatoes very hard to stir (to keep the milk from scalding) and they certainly didn’t come out looking attractive.
Despite appearances, I really enjoyed the way these dishes tasted, especially because they were so simple to make. Both recipes had short ingredient lists and created minimal dirty dishes. I’d never cooked anything inside parchment before, but the fish came out so moist that I’ll certainly be trying it again.
Earlier in the week I also made Julia’s Eggplant and Zucchini Gratin, using a recipe I found through the Smithsonian. The slicing and assembly of the dish took a bit of work, but we got 3 meals out of it and it was a perfect way to use seasonal produce.