Baby Turnips in Caramel Butter

Baby Turnips in Caramel Butter

When I was in Portland recently, I tasted turnips for the first time without thinking they were just another form of rutabaga – in other words – old, starchy tubers.

The pickled turnips I ate at Nedd Ludd restaurant were small, tender and sweet; a revelation.

A few days later I took some home from the farmer’s market, tiny, bright garnet – colored babies that looked very much like radishes.

I cooked them simply, inspired by Julia Child. After blanching them briefly I cooked them again in a skillet until they were glazed in caramelized butter.

I liked them so much I was inspired to post the recipe on my other blog, Dinner with Julia. It’s been months since I’ve had a chance to do that…go check it out for the recipe.

Happy Birthday, Julia!

Baby Turnips in Caramel Butter

Serving Size: 2 -4 side dish servings

Ingredients

  1. 2 bunches small turnips (about 4 cups)
  2. 2 tablespoons butter
  3. 1 tablespoon sugar
  4. 1/2 cup stock or water
  5. Sea salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Wash the turnips and trim the greens, if attached, and reserve for steaming or sauteeing, if desired.
  2. If the turnips are young and tender, there is no need to peel, otherwise peel larger turnips and cut into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Blanch the turnips in a small saucepan of boiling, salted water for about 5 minutes, until tender but not mushy. Drain.
  4. Melt the butter in a skillet and add the sugar. Add the turnips and stock and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Uncover and continue cooking, stirring now and then, until the turnips are coated with the glaze and nicely caramelized.
  5. Season with some sea salt and black pepper before serving.
http://familystylefood.com/2010/08/baby-turnips-in-caramel-butter/

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/

My Julia Child Moment

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Being a child of the Sixties, I have vivid memories of watching Julia Child as The French Chef, on a tiny black and white television in the kitchen with my mother.

I don’t remember her ever cooking one of Julia’s recipes, and my parents didn’t entertain much. I’m pretty sure that as much as we loved to watch Julia, the food she cooked seemed unapproachable and fussy to my mother, not to mention calling for ingredients way over her weekly grocery budget.

My mother prepared dinner every night for our family of five, economical favorites like Sloppy Joes, American Chop Suey, and baked chicken with my favortite seasoning, Shake n’ Bake; pretty typical fare in our working class New England neighborhood.

Watching Julia fling a duck onto her counter as she readied it for Canard à l’Orange might have had the same effect on us as watching Iron Chef Morimoto disembowel a blowfish would today – totally bizarre, impractical and kind of eccentric.

When I was much older, living on my own and seriously considering a career working in restaurant kitchens, I met Julia at a professional conference in Miami.

She was just finishing up her hour of book signing when I hurried over with my newly purchased copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I already owned an old, beat-up copy of the book, but I’d forgotten to bring it. I figured having the chance of getting close enough to a living culinary legend like Julia Child was worth spending the extra bucks for a crisp, new book; so unlike the worn, musty-smelling one I had at home.

As I smiled and approached her with my book, she stood up and shook her head. She said something like “I was just on my way up to my room for a siesta – I’ll have to sign your book another time. Oh, it’s been such a long day”.

I don’t remember exactly what I replied, but somehow my tragic disappointment must have been writ large on my face, since she did finally make her way bake to her seat to sign my book.

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So, I add my Julia Child moment to the list. If you have a moment inspired by Julia, leave me a note in the comments – I want to hear about it!