Thursday, September 10, 2009

Quiche Cooking Goodbye?

How many decades has it been since I made quiche? Three? Four? Well, yesterday I made spinach quiche, which is the creamy quiche I remember, and a Mediterranean quiche, new to me. It has cheese but no cream ~ rather, tomato paste, fresh tomatoes, anchovies, and Kalamata olives. It's brick-red in color, studded with olive halves in a flowerlike pattern.

Since I don't eat wheat, I made my quiche in a buttered dish with no pastry crust. Julia tells me when you do that, it's now called a gratin, not a quiche. Another thing I learned in this process is how to seed and juice a tomato. All my life, I've painstakingly scraped each section free of its seeds and watery pulp. Not Julia. She slices the peeled tomato horizontally, palms a half and squeezes with her hand. Splat ~ the stuff shoots right out. How simple is that?

Quiche was to be the swan song of my month of celebrating Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. However, I just learned that Barnes and Noble has just shipped my backordered French Chef 2 DVDs. Oh-oh. I will need a break to quiche these four-hour, forty-utensil recipes goodbye. My waistline needs time to quiche the cream and butter inches goodbye. And I need time to practice my newly learned skills. But I'll have further culinary adventures with Julia in the future.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Omelette Ta-Da! Voila! and La-Di-Dah!

Finally, an omelette a la Julia that ended up on my plate, not on the stove. It was nicely folded like a little silk evening purse; and it tasted really fresh and fluffy and moist. Ta-da! My trick? One egg instead of two and a fearless jerk upward at the end.

Omelettes ~ Again

Saturday omelettes. Sunday omelettes. Monday omelettes. I'm practicing. And cleaning yellow puddles off the stove.

Julia's shake-shake-shake motion reminded me of popping corn. Today I had better success with a shake-shake-roll motion, which coated the sides of the pan. Covering more of the pan's surface allowed more of the egg to cook. The jerk at the end needs to fold the omelette onto itself. I didn't quite accomplish that, but today's omelette was lighter and fluffier than my weekend ones.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Almost Done

Almost done with my 2009 Julia Child craze ~ I think.

Made creme brulee for my husband's birthday last week. This dessert is one we like so much at restaurants, I really want to get good at making it. Who better than Julia Child to teach me how? For years, however, I confused it with creme anglaise and was disappointed when it came out runny. (But oh, the fresh vanilla bean-y taste was divine.) Then I learned creme anglaise is supposed to be runny ~ it's a sauce. Not creme brulee though.

Anyway, I decided it was high time I owned a kitchen torch, so bought one last week, along with an omelette pan (more on that later). When it came time to brulee the creme, I couldn't figure out how to put the torch parts together. Gadget Guy did it in about five seconds and announced the necessary butane did not come with the torch kit. At that point, we were ready to eat the dessert, so decided to brulee under the oven broiler, which worked okay, but cooked the egg mixture ever so slightly. Next evening, armed with butane, we took turns torching the next two ramekins. What fun! The brown sugar bubbled and glistened, without the egg mixture getting heated. Yay! And yum! The third evening, we reprised our act with the final two ramekins. As an added bonus, when I Googled what to do with the creme brulee's leftover egg whites, the answer was mousse au chocolat. Aw shucks.

Today, omelettes a la Julia. I had bought an 8-inch pan with gently curved sides. In retrospect, taller, more squared-off sides, might be preferable, since Julia's method is to shake the pan and at the end, jerk it enough to fold the omelette over on itself. My first attempt was good, not great. In my second attempt, the liquid cascaded over the sides into a yellow puddle on the stove, and I ended up with quite a bit of uncooked egg on my plate. For our third two-egg omelette and Robert's first attempt, he got the motion down. I'll have to practice more to get a reliable result. But what we loved about Julia's method is that it yields a light, fluffy, moist omelette.

About that mousse au chocolat ... Let me just say that (1) if you use Julia's method, you'll end up with most of your kitchen utensils spread all over your countertops; and (2) it is worth the prep and cleanup time. We were so blissed out (and full) from licking the beaters, spatulas, spoons, bowls, and the countertops themselves, that we didn't even want dinner.