Wednesday, August 15, 2012

a celebration of butter

it's in my favorite tomato-red color, even
when we moved to seattle in 1993, two freshly minted master's degrees and two toddlers in tow, we decided it wasn't worth the money or trouble to move our decrepit hand-me-down furniture from oakland to seattle, so we came, un-laden, unburdened, and moved into a blissfully simple family student housing compound on the shores of lake washington. we then proceeded to quickly replace our old decrepit hand-me downs with new decrepit hand-me downs.

i miss the freedom of that time--no maintenance, little housekeeping, the knowledge that after seven or eight more years of graduate school, we would once again start over.   it's strange to think that we may never start over again. though, as  you know if you are a regular reader, i've been working on reminding myself that we are starting over every minute of every day.

if the film julie and julia has any historical merit, and i think it does, we know that julia child, whose hundredth birth anniversary is today, was a gal who started over and over and over.  i love her tenacity in writing mastering the art of french cooking and in doggedly working to get it published.  that when life seemed to throw roadblocks at her, she found beautiful, pleasurable, and profound ways around them.

i think she fits well into the pantheon of girls in tight places, don't you?

anyway, back to seattle.

we had nothing when we arrived, and so immediately began a round of yard sales.  at our first yard sale, i picked up child's cook book, the beautiful cream and red tome with the fleur-de-lis on the cover, and a copy of one of my other favorite cookbooks, the joy of cooking.

we also got our first table of the seattle dispensation, a hand-made toddler-sized affair we ate on for a while, until we finally found an adult-sized kitchen table we could afford.

the fun thing about those second-hand cookbooks was the tidy pencilled notes kept by the previous owner in the margins of the recipe, stuff like "substituted rabbit stock.  delicious."  or a date:  "made for dinner party 4/9/78. v. good."

for some reason i imagined this cook to be tiny and wearing a navy gabardine skirt with a button-down blouse.  a smaller version of julia?

i tried to cook as many recipes from that book as i could, tried to master the art of french cooking by following julia's meticulously written instructions.

here's the first recipe i made from the book.  it's simple for even a beginning cook, even though julia calls it a "grand soup." i still make it at least once a year:

julia child's cream of mushroom soup

1/4 cup onion, minced 
3 tablespoons butter 
3 tablespoons flour 
6 cups boiling white stock or 6 cups chicken broth, seasoned with 1/2 bay leaf and 1/8 t thyme
salt and pepper 
1 lb fresh mushrooms, seperate the stems from the caps & chop the stems. 
Save the caps for later 
2 tablespoons butter 
the thinly sliced mushroom cap 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon lemon juice 
2 egg yolks 
1/2-3/4 cup whipping cream 1
1 -3 tablespoon softened butter 


1 Melt 3 T butter in a saucepan and saute the onions slowly for about 8 - 10 minute Do not brown, just get them tender. 
2 Add the flour and stir over moderate heat for about 3 minute without browning. 
3 Off heat, beat in the boiling stock or broth with a wire whisk and blend it thoroughly with the flour. Season to taste. Stir in the mushroom stems. 
4 Simmer partially covered for 20 minutes, skimming occasionally. 
5 Strain mixture through a fine sieve, pressing juices out of the mushroom stems. I do this by placing the sieve over a large saucepan, letting the juices collect in the pan. Discard the stems and onions in the sieve. 
6 In another saucepan, melt the 2 T butter. 
7 Add the sliced mushroom caps, salt and lemon juice. 
8 Cook slowly for about 5 minutes. 
9 Pour the mushrooms and their cooking liquid into the saucepan with the strained soup base. 
10 Simmer for 10 minutes. 
11 *If you're not serving this immediately, set aside, uncovered, with a spoonful of cream or milk filming the surface. Reheat to simmer jut before proceeding. 
12 Beat the 2 egg yolks and 1/2 - 3/4 C cream in a mixing bowl. Add the hot soup by ladle-fuls until a cup has been added. Gradually add this back into the simmering soup. 
13 Stir soup over moderate heat for a minute or two to poach the eggs, but do not let soup come near a simmer. 14 Correct seasoning. 
15 Off heat, stir in the remaining butter by spoonfuls, if desired. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm really glad you posted about Julia's 100th bday today! I'd been meaning to mention her. Also, like HGB, she was married to her husband forever and never had chlldren. It also follows that good food was for Julia what good sex was for HGB, which makes sense to me.