Our February gathering featured recipes by cooking icon Julia Child, who adapted sophisticated French cuisine for the mainstream American post-war palate and influenced the tastes of a generation.
Dianne (and her delightful kitties) hosted our meal, and as always, our plates overflowed with delicious offerings. We chose recipes from several of Julia's cookbooks, including Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vols 1&2, The Way to Cook, The French Chef, Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home, and Baking With Julia. Dianne recounted her memories of a book-signing with Ms. Child. Along with her autographed copy of Julia & Jacques, she shared photos of herself with Julia at the event. She said that she was very impressed that, despite the long lines, Ms. Child took the time to converse with each person, asking questions about their lives and cooking. What a remarkable woman!
This month’s recipes included some wonderful French titles, like MaryLou’s Le succès-Le progres-La Dacquoise (this delicious meringue layer cake was a mouthful in more ways than one) and Susie’s Amuse-Gueule au Roquefort (we learned that gueule is French slang for “muzzle”). Certain dishes were technically difficult, like Michele’s Chicken Breast Ballottines, which required careful dissection from a whole chicken, while others upheld Julia Child’s reputation for a heavy hand with the cream and butter.
MaryLou’s Chicken Liver Mousse incorporated an entire stick of butter; Mary’s Boca Negra Cake was an ode to dark chocolate, heavy cream and butterfat; and Jackie’s Gnocchi Mornay sported several kinds of cheese.
Several of us branched out into new areas, like Dianne’s adventure in making focaccia for Pan Bagnat (a large sandwich, pressed for five hours to allow flavors to blend), and Kate blanching and de-seeding tomatoes for Ratatouille. Linda brought a family favorite, a Spanish-style beef stew with rice, while Shelley and Sue rounded out the spread with almond-stuffed zucchini, green beans and potato salad respectively. All told, we enjoyed ten savory dishes and two desserts.
As usual, we voted for our favorite dishes.
Our top vote-getter was Mary’s intense, rich Boca Negra Cake, made in a springform
pan, almost flourless with bourbon accenting both cake and topping. The cake consisted of mostly bittersweet chocolate, eggs and butter; the fantastic topping was a blend of melted white chocolate and heavy cream.
Second favorite was Jackie’s smooth and creamy Gnocchi, made with both potatoes and pâte à choux -- featuring both Gruyere and Parmesan in the gnocchi and Swiss cheese in the sauce.
Tied for third favorite were Linda’s Boeuf a la Catalaine, a saffron-scented, oven-baked beef stew with rice and cheese,
and MaryLou’s La Dacquoise, featuring meringue-nut layers, crème anglaise buttercream, almond praline and chocolate.
We spent another Sunday afternoon enjoying great conversation, amazing food, and fun with good friends. Looking forward to seeing you all for our March gathering! And, as Julia would always say, "Bon Appetit!"
Click here for photo gallery and recipes.