Julia Child’s Bouillabaisse Recipe

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I’m caught up in Julia Child fever {so much so that I’ve started a new blog – visit Dinner with Julia and follow me as I dive into Julia’s recipes}; the movie Julie & Julia is opening this weekend and I’m not ashamed to say that I will be standing in line for a ticket. I’ve read that Meryl Streep has captured the best of what we love about Julia, from her warbly, exuberant voice to her healthy physical lust for her husband.

Thinking about my Julia Child moment had me plucking my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking off the shelf for a little sit-down time. I wanted to make a recipe from the book, but I had trouble conjuring that spark of hunger that usually makes me rush to the kitchen to cook.

Is it because some of the recipes in Mastering are stuck in a bit of a time warp?

Browsing through the book, I see recipes that speak to another time, a time before crème fraîche became a staple in the grocery store and we knew not to cook a piece of pork to within an inch of its life: cold chicken aspic decorated with slivers of canned pimiento, veal Prince Orloff and crepes filled with boiled, canned pineapple.  In my mind I draw a caricature of the 1960′s American housewife that Julia was writing for – a perfectly coiffed woman about to throw a dinner party in her sprawling suburban ranch house, wearing a bullet bra, Jackie O skirt suit and smoking a long cigarette, like a character from the television show Mad Men.

But in between the thick, cream-colored pages of Julia’s tome are a multitude of other classic recipes and techniques that will never go out of style or fail to please – her precise directions for making homemade mayonnaise, perfect rolled omelets and puffy souffles are what make Mastering the Art of French Cooking stand alone on the cookbook shelf.

I chose to make the bouillabaisse (page 52) the other day, along with a rouille sauce to smear on crusty toasted bread.

Bouillabaisse is a Provençal fish soup, and Julia stresses the importance of keeping it simple; the broth is fortified with lots of seafood shells and trimmings (available for less than a dollar a pound at your fish counter) and flavored with the typical flavors of the region: garlic, saffron, olive oil and tomatoes.

The soup was outstanding and I like how it had something for everyone at my table (picky children among them)  – delicious broth, different kinds of fish and seafood, and a big hunk of bread to soak up every drop in the bowl.

The simplicity and authentic taste of this recipe is what Julia Child is all about to me. It also defines how I love to cook.

Julia says it best:

This is the kind of food I had fallen in love with: not trendy, souped-up fantasies, just something very good to eat….the ingredients have been carefully selected and beautifully and knowingly prepared. Or, in the words of the famous gastronome Curnonsky, “Food that tastes of what it is”. (from My Life in France)

Here’s to you, Julia!

Julia Child’s Bouillabaisse Recipe

Serving Size: Serves a table of 6

Serve the bouillabaisse with toasted bread and rouille on the side.

Ingredients

  1. 1/2 cup olive oil
  2. 1 cup each chopped onion and leek
  3. 4 cloves mashed garlic
  4. 2 or 3 large, ripe tomatoes
  5. 2 1/2 quarts water
  6. Fresh herb sprigs: thyme, parsley, fennel fronds and basil (in any combination)
  7. 1/2 teaspoon saffron
  8. 1 tablespoon sea salt
  9. 3 - 4 pounds fish heads, bones, trimmings, shrimp shells
  10. 1 1/2 pounds each peeled shrimp (use the shells for the stock); wild cod, halibut and/or sole cut into chunks, and debearded, scrubbed mussels or clams
  11. Toasted rustic bread
  12. For the Rouille:
  13. 1 roasted and peeled red bell pepper
  14. 1 roasted hot red chile pepper or ground cayenne pepper to taste
  15. 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  16. 1 small peeled garlic clove
  17. 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs or finely chopped almonds
  18. 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
  19. Fine sea salt, about 1/2 teaspoon or to taste
  20. 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

    For the soup:
  1. Heat the oil in a tall pot (I used an 8 quart stockpot) over medium heat; add the onion and leek and cook gently until softened. Stir in the garlic and cook for a minute until fragrant, then add the tomatoes, water, herbs, saffron, salt and fish bones. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat so that the broth bubbles slowly without boiling.
  2. Cook 30 minutes, then strain the broth into a large bowl or another pot and discard the solids.
  3. Pour the broth back into the stockpot and bring to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook until they turn pink, a minute or two. Add the rest of the fish and shellfish, cover and simmer until the mussels or clams open. Taste the soup and add more salt and freshly ground pepper if needed.
  4. For the Rouille:
  5. Puree everything except for the olive oil in a food processor until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil while processing to form a paste.
http://familystylefood.com/2009/08/julia-childs-bouillabaisse-recipe/

French Lemon Yogurt Cake

Getting ready for baking

I’ve been hauling Dorie Greenspan’s new book, Baking From My Home to Yours around the house (it’s heavy) for weeks now. I look at it while I’m drinking my morning tea and I get all geared up to bake something. I take butter and eggs out of the fridge to come to room temperature and I turn on the oven.

And then my day happens. The butter sits there until dinner time, looking all sad and flaccid. That’s when I face the fact that there’ll be no baking today, again. I heft the book back upstairs for some bedtime reading, and I fall asleep dreaming of French Yogurt Cake.

I think the only reason I got around to making this cake today is that I had a half-cup of Total Greek yogurt left in the container, which is just exactly the required amount for this cake. So I seized the moment!

There are a few very nice things about this cake:

1. You don’t need to soften butter.
2. There is no electric mixer needed.
3. You have to massage lemon zest into a bowl of sugar.

If you’ve never rubbed lemon zest between grains of sugar, you haven’t lived. It’s smells way better than that aromatherapy pillow I get to wear around my neck while I’m getting a pedicure.

Dorie’s recipe calls for a lemon marmalade glaze, but I didn’t have any lemon marmalade, so I took her suggestion and topped it with a mixture of crème fraiche, lemon juice and confectioner’s sugar. Somehow that makes it seem really French. She also says this cake is even better the next day. Great! I’ll have a thick slice with my tea while I dream about my next baking project.

Lemon-Scented Yogurt Cake
Adapted from Baking: From my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan.
The author describes this simple cake as a cross between pound and sponge cake.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely ground almonds, or substitute another 1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup flavorless oil, such as canola or safflower
1/2 cup crème fraiche
2-3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Center an oven rack and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a standard loaf pan and place on a baking sheet.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, almonds, baking powder and salt.

Put sugar in a large bowl with the zest and rub with your fingertips until sugar is moist and aromatic. Add the yogurt, eggs and vanilla and whisk until blended. Whisk in the oil. Add the flour mixture and fold with a spatula or wooden spoon.

Scrape the batter into pan and bake 50 – 55 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer pan to a rack and cool 5 minutes. Run a blunt knife around edges before unmolding onto a rack to cool, right side up.

Combine crème fraiche, sugar and lemon juice and spoon over cake.

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