happy birthday julia!
Today marks what would have been Julia Child’s 100th birthday! And it seems quite obvious that to celebrate her legacy we should all treat ourselves to some delicious French food, preferably something whipped up from one of her cookbooks. I went ahead and made two of her trademark dishes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking: vichyssoise and boeuf bourguignon.
So pop open your favorite bottle of French wine and read more to see how you can celebrate Julia and her unparalleled contribution to American cuisine. Or skip the recipes and just watch this amazing remix instead. Bon appetit!
Vichyssoise or Chilled Potato Leek Soup
This recipe is adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Berthole, and Simone Beck.
Serves 6-8 people
This soup is very satisfying yet light, and as Julia says, quite “uncomplicated to make”. You can make it well ahead of time and serve it as a first course before something hearty, like boeuf bourguignon. Try substituting creme fraiche instead of cream for a more modern take on the classic soup.
I N G R E D I E N T S
3 cups sliced leeks (one large leek or 2 small ones)
3 cups sliced potatoes (about 2 smaller potatoes)
1 1/2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
3/4 cup heavy cream
salt to taste
D I R E C T I O N S
Prepare your sliced leeks by slicing off the tip with the roots, then slicing it in half lengthwise. The cut thin slices all the down the white of the leek until you reach the tough, green, fibrous leaves. Some of the green will be tender enough to use but certainly not the entire leek. Then place the sliced leek into a large bowl of cold water. This will ensure any bits of sand or dirt are washed out as they will sink and the leeks will float. Set leeks aside.
Then peel and cut the potatoes in a similar fashion, lengthwise first then in half-circles down the length.
Place the potatoes and leeks in a large pot and cover with the stock.
Cover the pot, bring the liquid to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked all the way through, about 30-40 minutes depending on how thick you slice the potatoes. When the potatoes are completely cooked, carefully transfer the soup to blender or use a hand blender and thoroughly puree the mixture.
Then using a fine mesh sieve, strain the liquid into a bowl.
Whisk in the cream and then add a dash of salt to taste. Julia says to “season to taste, oversalting very slightly as salt loses savor in a cold dish.” Thank you, Julia.
Chill the soup completely before serving. To serve, mince some fresh chives and serve in chilled soup bowls.
Bouef Bourguignon or Braised Beef Stew
This recipe is also adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Berthole, and Simone Beck.
Serves 3-4 people
This is the one of the most classic braised beef dishes ever. It is traditionally served with boiled potatoes but Julia says you can also substitute rice or buttered noodles, so I served mine with pappardelle. She also suggests enjoying this dish with a “fairly full-bodied young red wine like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, Bordeaus-St. Emilion, or Burgundy.”
I N G R E D I E N T S
3 ounces of bacon, cut into one inch pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes, patted dry with paper towels
1 small onion, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon flour
1 1/2 cups red wine
1 to 2 cups beef stock
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
1 bay leaf
D I R E C T I O N S
Start by preheating the oven to 425°F. Heat the oil in a dutch oven or stock pot over high heat. Add the bacon and cook until it is slightly brown.
Remove the bacon using a slotted spoon and set it aside. Using the same pot, brown the beef in the bacon fat over hight heat, working with a few pieces at a time.
When the chunks of beef have been browned, set them aside with the bacon. Then, add the carrots and onion to the pot and brown them in the fat.
Turn off the heat and If you have any excess fat in the pot after you have browned the vegetables, discard it. Otherwise, add the bacon and the beef back into the pot and add the salt, pepper, and flour, tossing gently to coat. Place the pot in the oven, uncovered, for 4 minutes. Toss the mixture around and return it to the oven for another 4 minutes. Julia says “this browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.”
Remove the dutch oven from the oven and reduce the heat to 325°F. Pour the red wine into the meat and then add enough beef stock to just cover the beef. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf and bring to a simmer on the stove.
Cover the Dutch oven with a lid and place it in the oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until the meat is extremely tender and a fork pierces is very easily. While the stew is cooking, check it periodically to make sure it is cooking at a simmer. If it is not, raise the heat to 350°F. If it is boiling rapidly, reduce the heat to 300°F.
Meanwhile, Julia suggests serving this stew with her braised onions and sauteed mushrooms, both of which can be whipped up while the stew is cooking. Also, this is a great time to cook the potatoes, rice, or pasta you wish to serve with the beef. Or, better yet, this is also a great time to sit down and enjoy a glass of wine whilst reading more recipes…
When the beef is super tender, remove the pot from the oven. Carefully pour the hot stew through a strainer, catching all the liquid in a large saucepan or bowl. Reduce the liquid just slightly to thicken, simmering it for about 5 or 6 minutes in a saucepan.
Meanwhile, wash out the Dutch oven, remove the pieces of beef and bacon from the strainer, and add them back to the Dutch oven. This step is tedious and annoying but it’s how Julia would want it!
Then, when the sauce is reduced enough to coat the back of a spoon lightly, add it back into the Dutch oven with the meat and stir to combine.
This, my dears is boeuf bourguignon, courtesy of Julia Child. Ladle the beef over some buttered noodles and serve with sauteed mushrooms, braised onions, and of course, a nice glass of red wine. Thank you Julia and Happy Birthday!