I owe Julia Child a lot when it comes to cooking. She may have saved my marriage, and certainly my sanity through the years! You see, my husband and I had totally different dining experiences growing up. Growing up in rural northern California wasn’t like being in the culinary bread basket. At the time, this was strictly meat and potatoes country. Meanwhile, my beloved grew up in southern California…land of Mickey Mouse, Los Angeles, Hollywood…and then he topped that off with a few years in the San Francisco area. I knew I was in trouble the first time we went out to dinner…I didn’t recognize much of anything on the menu, except for the steaks. I quickly learned to ask him to order for me… Then, fast forward a couple years, and we’re living off the grid, with lots of time on my hands, but virtually no opportunity to go out for a couples night. Enter Julia Child and The French Chef Cookbook.
The French Chef Cookbook became my text book, and Julia Child, my teacher. I tackled recipes that took hours to prepare…I tackled recipes that felt obscure to me. I simply cooked…anything that appealed to us, regardless of the cuisine. My first Julia Child recipe was Coquilles St. Jacques…complete with crepes whose batter required resting for hours.
The recipe I chose to begin celebrating Julia’s 100th birthday with is Supremes a Volaille a Blanc, which she paired with a risotto in Show 14 of her cooking series. I substituted a stove-top risotto from Show 62, mostly because it’s August and I don’t use my oven much in August! The chicken breasts were easy to put together…just a quick sear and finish in the oven (I used my toaster oven). The risotto was my learning curve. I’d never done risotto before…though I’ve been more than curious! The risotto begins with very white rice grains which will simmer gently in hot broth until the grains soften and become somewhat opaque. Between Julia’s instruction and hearing Chef Gordon Ramsay in my head…I think I got this one okay!
Although this plates rather pale and insipid in appearance, it doesn’t taste pale and insipid! The risotto is tender but not mushy with plenty of flavor from the chicken stock and the vermouth…then there’s also vermouth in the pan sauce…the two dishes tie together nicely. A dry white wine would have been a nice addition…perhaps a Pinot Grigio or a Viognier. Add a side of sauteed spinach, or nicely cooked asparagus, and you’ve got a meal.
I hope to be able to visit a few more recipes in my Julia Child cookbooks… When I reviewed the recipes for this celebration I found several recipes I”m anxious to cook. I hope to drop by a few more times during our 10 day celebration of America’s most celebrated Chef!!