Doing the Julie. Dimanche Repas: Semaine 1
Here’s Resolution Number 1 aching to be fulfilled in every way. Not sure how inspiring this first attempt is… but stay tuned through the year, and let’s see how far this goes.
So my friend and I are doing the Julie-Julia Project, miles and miles apart. He in Washington, me in Paris. Cyber-ically synching our Sunday menu so that we work on at least 2 Julia Child recipes, 3 max per week. My family members are my guinea pigs… his — probably his friends, his son, or a woman he is hoping to charm. 🙂 Whatever or whoever it is … he, RS, and I, are on a mission to finish 52 weeks of Julia recipes. I am doing this to learn new things … after all, I am in Paris, where it all started! And RS… well, he just loves Paris, I guess, and all things french! My Belgian hotelier DH — oh, ok… let me change that to HB (on popular request!) — stands to gain the most from this, perhaps. He is a lover of French food, and has Food and Beverage as his background — and somehow, whenever I whip up my saucy, rich, Filipino-with-very-Spanish-inspired-flavored-dishes… he finds it all a little too rich for his palette. So here I am… thinking of ways to make our lives down the road a little more exciting — so in our old age, when we are retired (when HE is retired) and we are living in our own little apartment — at least I can have my dream kitchen and cook to my heart’s content in a way that he would truly appreciate. I like feeding people… but before I can do that, I’ve got to learn how with a little more finesse, a little more sophistication than I do now.
The Rules of the Game: RS and I take turns in choosing le dimanche repas. The Sunday Meal. Recipes out of any of the books of Julia Child. We are to advise each other of the chosen menu every Monday… go for the kill on Sunday … and blog about it as soon as our schedules permit, hopefully before the next Sunday comes around. So you are our witnesses to this journey of mastering the art of french cooking. 🙂
But first: a disclaimer. I am no professional cook, with no background whatsoever in cooking, save a few cooking classes in Paris which my sister and I would attend each time she visits. I do not cook on a regular basis because I have a cook who is self-taught, and who has simply learned our family’s favorite recipes by watching me (or my sister) do it once or twice. In short, I consider myself one of those lucky moms who only cooks when she has to. Or wants to. 🙂 That makes it more delightful for me… because when cooking becomes a chore, rather than a passion or even a choice, then I think you take all the fun out of it. So here goes me, having fun … admittedly, almost as therapeutically-fun as shopping!
Semaine 1: 10 January
Endives à la Flamande (Braised Belgian Endives)
Rôti de Porc Poêlê (Casserole-Roasted Pork)
Le Tarte de Demoiselles Tatin (Upside-Down Apple Tart)
My self-rating this week: 5/10.
I am not a real endive-eater… but because they are the veggies of the season, as the French say, I thought they ought to be good. Julia said you could cook the endives in the oven, or leave them slow-cooking on the stove for about 1 1/2 hours. Because my oven was pretty busy, I thought I would choose the later. Bummer. After about 45 minutes, I could hear an unexpected sizzle… and when I ventured to find out what it was sizzling on my stove… I found my endives all dry, its leaves practically black and burning! Ouch! Minus 200 points right there. Fail.
Maybe I should have made sure that the casserole didn’t run out of water — but how could Julia think that half a cup of water would sustain 10 huge endives for even an hour on low-fire stove-cooking? Am I missing something? If you’ve got an answer… please share!
I ended up removing the leaves that looked burnt out … added more water… and continued the cooking to follow her time prescription.
The verdict: 3 endives left out of the 10. HB said it was OK… and tasted the way endives should taste. “Just lacking a bit of salt,” he said. (You must know that my husband is one of the most tactful people I have ever met. He is full of proper manners — but I am hoping, with this Sunday exercise — he will learn to “speak up” … otherwise, I might just ruin every Sunday lunch he has for the rest of his life!)
Voila! My burned endives as Exhibit A of how not to cook them. Edible they were… but perhaps, painfully edible.
My Roast Pork. Second Fail. Total disaster. Dried up, and over overly cooked. I think, more of a disaster than the endives. Julia said, one and a half to two hours in the oven. Obviously, waaaay too long! At least in my oven! One hour would have sufficed for my oven! Of course it doesn’t help that my oven has pre-set temps that I cannot really adjust (oh the woes of renting a furnished apartment!). I don’t even want to see this piece of pork again! And mind you, I’ve done many other roast porks with great success… but this was totally the way it SHOULD NOT turn out. Also, at a certain point, I was not too sure now if I should have left the casserole covered in the oven… or if I should NOT have covered it. Hmmm. Will await RS’ take on this!
To further punish myself, I also ventured to do JC’s Sauce Moutarde a la Normande (Mustard Sauce with Cream) but that too ended up with the same fate. Of course. Much of its flavor depended on the meat drippings… which was close to none, by the time my little roast was shriveled and dry. 😦 A sad day for me. Exhibit B.
But! Dessert redeems me! The Upside Down Apple Tart pleased everyone around the table. All gone in almost one sitting! My nephew had 2 helpings, and my daughter took the last slice as her snack this evening. That was a good sign. HB’s Verdict: “This could go on the menu.” I guess that means it was a pleasing success! 🙂
Not a bad first try — but I must say, it was quite stressful to cook a whole 3-course meal. I need a better oven (but I don’t think I will ever get that any time soon while here), a meat thermometer that works, and less nerves when I am trying to get everything finished at the right time so that everything goes on the table while it is sizzling hot.
No wonder many chefs I know are bald. It must be stressful at the kitchen. (No ill intentions meant towards bald men, mind you. I like bald men as you can see!) 🙂
No high scores for me this week… but can’t wait to improve my marks next Sunday, when I will hopefully have better luck and more sense in the kitchen!