I’m writing this after returning home from Julia Child’s birthday celebration. This evening, at Mrs. Dornberg’s Culinary Experience, we toasted to a wonderful cook, who would have been 106 today.
There is much that we could celebrate about Julia and what she brought to American cooking. After viewing some television clips, what is quite obvious is that she was real.
She burned food, ruined recipes, dropped chickens, and kept right on going. Nothing stopped her from teaching us with great zeal and humor, as imperfect as she was.
I find that quite comforting.
Our birthday meal consisted of:
- Gruyere Stuffed Mushrooms (Champignons Farci)
- Eggplant Pizza
- Salad greens with Basic French Vinaigrette
- Poached Salmon with Cucumber Sauce
- Buttered String Beans (Haricots Verts a la Maitre d’Hotel)
- Chocolate Mousse topped with whipped cream
We toasted with a bit of champagne, and appropriate wine pairings were also available. Julia did lots of wine pouring and toasting, celebrating food and life.
As we continue to celebrate summer, kids going back to school, and beautiful sunsets, I offer you a recipe we enjoyed. It is from Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom, by Julia Child.
Basic French Vinaigrette
Makes about 2/3 Cup
- ½ Tablespoon finely minced shallot or scallion
- ½ Tablespoon Dijon-type mustard
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ Tablespoon wine vinegar
- 1/3 to ½ Cup excellent olive oil or other fine, fresh oil
- Freshly ground pepper
Either shake all the ingredients together in a screw-topped jar or mix them individually as follows. Stir the shallots or scallions together with the mustard and salt. Whisk in the lemon juice and vinegar, and when well blended start whisking in the oil by droplets to form a smooth emulsion. Beat in freshly ground pepper. Taste by dipping a piece of the salad greens into the sauce and correct seasoning with salt, pepper and/or drops of lemon juice.
Vinaigrette is always at its freshest and best when served promptly, but you can store it in an airtight container and refrigerate for several days. The shallots and fresh lemon juice will eventually go off, spoiling the taste of the dressing.
*Add minced fresh herbs to dressing as desired after all the oil has been added.
A true French salad is simply mixed greens with vinaigrette such as this. It helps to cleanse the palate between courses.
Cheers to Julia, eating amazing food, and keeping it real.
“Remember, ‘No one’s more important than people’!” In other words, friendship is the most important thing—not career or housework, or one’s fatigue—and it needs to be tended and nurtured.” –Julia Child, “My Life in France”