My colleagues in the newsroom tease me about my lunches. Not in a bad way. They like to peer over my cubby wall and look at my salad during lunchtime while I eat at my desk.
“Look!” they will exclaim. “She is using a real plate!”
In the webinar I am currently teaching “An American culinary journey: From succotash to urban chickens,” we are spending an entire section on Julia Child.
In many ways Julia’s own journey (and I feel like I can be on a first name basis here, since her genius lay in her ability to be accessible and engaging) epitomizes the transition of American cuisine – from one that was recovering from war rations and Jell-O molds into the discovery of cuisine, food as an element able to delight the senses, engage the mind, and empower a cook to exude creativity.
Her own awakening, as it is widely known, came in Rouen, France with sole meunière.
When the word came that Nemo was heading our direction blowing 65 m.p.h. winds and bringing at least 2 feet of snow, my friends Nathan and Emily, who live a few blocks away, extended the invitation for homemade chicken pot pie. I was in charge of bringing brownies.
I knew immediately that I wanted to bring The Pastry Chef’s Baking Frosted Brownies, since these are so decadent and delicious I definitely did not want to be left in the house alone with a pan. I have very little self-control around chocolate. Bringing them to a group dinner was the perfect solution!
If you are hosting a crowd to watch the game this Sunday, here are a few ideas from my recipe list to consider for your spread. You’ll need some good snacking items to last the game and one dish meals like chili, chowder, or lasagna will make for easy handling in front of the TV. Same goes for dessert, keep it simple and sweet so the focus can stay on the gridiron and not whether you are making a mess!
May the best team win…
There’s not a lot to say here except that this will be the best chocolate cake you ever bake. Ever. It has stood the test of time, fads, and the convenience of box cake mixes. This chocolate cake recipe first appeared in The Christian Science Monitor in the 1930s or ’40s. It was reintroduced to readers a few years ago in this essay.
France, it has long been known, has the power to ignite a passion for food.
Julia Child overcame prejudice and disdain for Americans to earn her culinary badge from Paris Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in the 1950s. Her memoir, “My Life in France,” details her love affair with the country and its culinary masterpieces. Food writer Amanda Hesser wooed a grumpy peasant caretaker in a walled kitchen garden at Chateau du Fey in Burgundy, France, and wrote about it in “The Cook and the Gardner.” And even food blogger-turned author Molly Wizenburg of Orangette fame traces her food writing epiphany to the streets of France in “A Homemade Life.”
There are countless other Americans who traveled to France and suddenly found a new direction in life centered on food. So revered is French cuisine that its principles are a bedrock in Western culinary schools. In November 2010, French gastronomy was added to UNESCO’s “intangible cultural heritage” world list.
And then there is Ellise Pierce, the Cowgirl Chef, who followed a Frenchman to Paris only to get homesick for Texas. There, in the romantic culinary capital of the world, the former journalist found herself yearning for cornbread, hot chilis, and even – gasp – Milky Way candybars.
At warm-up Thanksgiving this year, the annual pot luck my friend Jenna hosts a few days before Thanksgiving, I brought a butternut and kale side dish that was a hit. The butternut squash is tossed with spices and olive oil before it is roasted, and then sautéed onions, dried cranberries, and toasted pumpkin seeds are added to a bed of leafy green kale.
Not only does it look pretty on the table, it tastes delicious! This dish quickly emptied out at our pre-Thanksgiving meal.
On most American Thanksgiving tables, pumpkin pie is as much a presence as the turkey centerpiece. In modern forms it may appear as a flan, a cheesecake, or a frozen whipped delight.
In a Victorian-era cookbook, “The Art of Cookery: A Manual for Home and Schools” by Emma P Ewing, I found a recipe for a pumpkin pie that surprised me for two reasons: the heavy use of molasses and no cinnamon.