Sunday, January 10, 2010

C'mon Julia, cut me some slack!

For Christmas, we received The Art of French Cooking by Julia Child et al (along with probably 100,000 other people). Now, I consider myself a fair cook and perusing the recipes I was initially excited - they are straightforward, amusingly written, and are often things I've always wanted to try.

Here are my results so far:

Carbonnades a la Flamande
Beef and onions braised in beer

Problem: Soupy. At the very end, the recipe says to thicken the sauce with cornstarch. Rather than stew, it was borderline soup.
Salvageable: Yup. It was still quite delicious. And with big hunks of crusty bread the extra sauce did not go to waste.

Gateau a l'Orange
Orange sponge cake (made with lemons instead)

Problem: Coming out of the oven, it was beautiful. Just barely golden brown, puffy, lovely. 5 minutes later, it was flat. More of a glorified pancake than sponge cake.
Salvageable? Not for my birthday cake, but I cut it up, and it is saved frozen to make a trifle with delicious berries come into season.

Pate a Choux
Cream puff paste

Problem: This one went OK, but the baking of the cream puffs was all off. Granted, our oven runs hot, so I lowered the temp and still the delicate little puffs were burnt before even nearing the suggested cooking time. Sigh.

Salvageable? Yes. I cut off the bottoms, and filled with a savory goat cheese paste for appetizers tonight. Not pretty, but quite delicious. And, I've gained confidence to try this again, hopefully next time we have a party, because it was really easy.

Gnocchi de Pommes de Terre
Potato Gnocchi

Problem: Rather than beautiful, pillow-like dumplings, it ended up looking like sad, thin potato soup. Still not quite sure what the problem was. I've successfully made gnocchi before, so I'll scrap this recipe and stick with those that work for me.

Salvageable? Amazingly, yes. I'd only used half the dough to make the dumplings, so I put the rest in a shallow buttered pan, with a sprinkling of parmesan and dotted butter, baked, and it made a very tasty side dish. This one will go on the roster of dishes for company.

Seriously Julia, can you just let me get one recipe right, the way you envisioned it? Please?


Christie said...

I'm trying that beef and beer soon. Yum! We had slightly better luck with the orange cake. Try her scrambled eggs. Those were good! :) Oh, and your cream puffs look amazing.

Linnea Westerlind said...

Ashleigh & Julia :-)