Sunday, August 9, 2009

channeling julia

So my sister and a friend went to see Julie & Julia on Saturday. I was supposed to have them over for my waffles, but realized that i didn't have any flour, and lacked the amount of enthusiasm that it takes to put on clothes and leave the house, so we settled for a movie instead. It was great. I've read the blog years back, and then read the book, and was pretty stoked to see a movie based off of 2 great books, directed by the totally hilarious Nora Ephron. I had high hopes, and they were met and exceeded.

I cried The. Whole. Time. Like many foodies, Julia Child has a special place in my heart. JC (i can call her that because we're buds in my head) reminds me of everything i loved as a kid, and everything i love as an adult. She makes me miss my grandma, and makes me want to be better, try harder and work smarter.

When i was young, my mom was busy working, and going to school, and so relied on school to occupy us kids. So during the summer we'd take turns spending some time with our grandparents, help my mom out with the burden of single parenthood, and also help keep us out of trouble- at least for a little while. For a whole glorious month every summer, i would get dropped off at my favorite place on the planet to act like a single child- even just for a little while.

My grandpa and i would take long morning walks around the neighborhood, play checkers and watch Price is Right. My Grandma and i would cook every meal for him together, go to the library and read, watch Julia Child and ballroom dancing competitions on PBS. I have watched Julia Child on PBS since i can remember it seems like. I remember a particular episode where she showed us all the various sizes of lobsters. I must have been 12 or 13, just before i turned into a sulky and petulant pre teen, and before i thought i was too cool to watch PBS. I thought she was incredible. Fearless. Touching these angry, waving and snapping lobsters like they were mere bunnies. Throwing them around the cutting board, and muscling them into place. I wanted to be like that and i wanted to be her.

I have a distinct memory of sitting on my grandpa's shoulders on a vinyl couch with a zebra print cushion, and fashioning his white hair into a mohawk while learning the intricacies of pate choux. I remember my grandma's 70s mushroom wallpaper in the kitchen, and the smell the stove would make when we went to light the pilot with a match.

Grandma slept in rollers, smelled like powder, and was the very picture of a 50s housewife. She was the prettiest thing i had ever seen, and her bureau was a wonderland filled with jewelry, trinkets, and a big pink piggy bank that she let me count on her bed. Together every day, we made typical southern American food, fried chicken.... biscuits... cakes and pies. It was like magic watching her cook, and i loved that she always asked grandpa to open all the jars.

Watching Julia Child being so masterfully portrayed by the amazing Meryl Streep made me want to cook and love and celebrate all that I am. Because so much of what and who I am today are because of 3 incredible women, my mom, my grandma, and Julia Child.

Tarragon Rotisserie Chicken in the style of Poulet a la Broche, page 242 in Mastering The Art of French Cooking, Volume 1, edition 21.
A very good friend of mine spotted a *set it and forget it* style rotisserie cooker for $10 at a yard sale, and like the very good friend that she is, she bought it for me and set it beside my car door. My friends know me well. This chicken would be perfect for company, or just a couple friends. Perfectly moist, with a crisp brown skin, it sure hits the spot.

1 packet fresh tarragon- 1/2 packet chopped roughly
2 lemons, 1 zested and cut in half, other just cut in half
2 tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons room temp butter
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
1 5 pound organic chicken

In a bowl, mix together the chopped tarragon, lemon zest, salt, butter, pepper, and herbes de Provence with a fork until well combined. set aside
wash and dry the chicken, and loosen the skin from the meat of the breast, legs/thighs and back. massage the chicken all over with the butter mixture, inside the cavity, under the skin, etc and put tarragon stalks and cut lemons inside. Truss the chicken well(page 237 in MTAFC). Put the chicken on the spit, and set your rotisserie for the size of your bird-- generally about 12-15 minutes per pound, or tested with an instant read thermometer to 160 (temp will reach at least 165 after 10 minutes of resting).

after you let the bird rest for 10 minutes- carve this way making sure to carve off a little of the breast meat with the wings-- "the way the French do" according to JC.

Pommes de terre de persil (Parsley Potatoes)
Simple and comforting, its hard to resist this simple side dish.

1 bag baby yukon gold potatoes- or yukons cut into quarters, scrubbed, skins left on
1/2 cup minced flat leaf parsley
4 tablespoons butter, melted
salt and pepper to taste

in a large pot, fill with cold water and add potatoes. bring to a boil, and boil until done. potatoes are done when the tip of a paring knife inserted into a potato comes out with little resistance. drain potatoes well, and add back to hot pot. pour over melted butter, add parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.

Les Haricots Verts Indiens ("Indian" Green Beans)
I've been making a variation of these green beans with different curries and spices over the years, and garam masalla has been my favorite. these crisp little green beans are easy to make, and magically, taste better the next day, so i like to make extras, and add to salads, put on sandwiches, or just snack on them cold.

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
2 shallots, sliced thin
2 teaspoons garam masalla spice
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1o grinds fresh pepper
extra virgin olive oil to coat

pre heat an oven to 400. on a large heavy cookie sheet (if you've got the flimsy sort-- you may want to use a roasting pan so it doesn't warp in the oven) add green beans, garam masalla, salt and pepper and a light drizzle of olive oil. using your hands, toss the beans well, and add more oil if you need to. the beans should just be lightly coated. roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. Beans should be just lightly browned, and still have a nice crispness to them.

Pepper is "helping" in the kitchen


  1. What a great day and a fantastic meal. J'aime beaucoup tes haricots verts! Thank you Forgetful Chef!

  2. Maya, I adore you and all that you are (a wonderful daughter, a great chef, a great writer...and more!)