Today is an important day of sorts. A day that I–as well as thousands of foodies and food bloggers–have been awaiting anxiously for weeks now; the release of Julie & Julia featuring Meryl Streep as Julia Child.
It also marks the last day in a series of recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking that I have been attempting over the course of the last little while. Until Hélène from La Cuisine d’Hélène suggested a MtAoFC challenge a couple of weeks ago, my copy of Julia Child’s magnum opus sat largely unused on my bookshelf. But later is always better than never, and I’m so glad that I got the nudge to cook from this classic cookbook. I’ve always been the type of person who uses cookbooks as a starting point. I rarely cook a recipe all the way through as printed. With Mastering, however, I decided that it would only be fair to Julia and the challenge to cook the dishes exactly as described.
I’m so glad I did. Everything I’ve made has come out much better than expected. I have started out with the simpler dishes but liked them so much that I’ve made some of them twice. Although this is my last MtAoFC challenge, it’s surely not the last time I’m going to cook from Julia Child’s wonderful book.
Soupe à L’oignon Gratinée – French Onion Soup
The key to French Onion soup is the slow cooking of the onions in butter and oil, followed by a long, slow simmering in stock. This helps them to develop the rich flavor this soup is known for.
5 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons flour
2 quarts beef stock, boiling
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons cognac
4-6 rounds of hard-toasted French bread
1-2 cups grated Swiss or Parmesan cheese
1) Cook the onions slowly in the butter and oil in a covered saucepan for 15 minutes. Uncover, raise heat to medium and stir in the salt and sugar. The sugar will help the onions to brown. Cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions have turned a deep golden brown.
2) Sprinkle in the flour and stir over heat for 3 minutes. Off heat, blend in the stock. Add the wine and season to taste. Simmer partially covered for another 30-40 minutes or more, skimming if needed. Correct seasonings.
3) Just before serving, stir in the cognac. Place rounds of bread in soup bowls or a tureen and pour soup on top. Sprinkle with grated cheese and brown under a hot broiler until golden and bubbly. Serve immediately.
Quiche Lorraine – Cream & Bacon Quiche
3-4 ounces lean bacon
8-inch partially cooked pastry shell
1 1/2 – 2 cups cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1-2 tablespoons butter cut into pea-sized dots
1) Preheat oven to 375F. Brown bacon in a skillet. Drain on paper towels and press pieces into bottom of pastry shell.
2) Beat the eggs, cream, and seasonings in a mixing bowl until blended. Check seasonings. Pour into pastry shell and distribute butter pieces on top.
3) Set in upper third of preheated oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the quiche has puffed and browned. Slide quiche on a hot platter and serve.