Happy 100th Birthday Julia Child!

The late, great Julia Child was born 100 years ago today in Pasadena, California. While working in the Secret Intelligence division of the Office of Strategic Services (the predecessor of the CIA), she met and subsequently married Paul Child. After the war, Child joined the US Foreign Service and was posted to Paris. Hallelujah! This opened the door for Julia’s revelatory meal in Rouen (oysters, sole meunière, and fine wine) which she said was “an opening up of the soul and spirit for me.” That meal inspired he to enroll at Le cordon Bleu cooking school which led to nothing less than a culinary revolution in the US.

On her television program, The French Chef, Child would repeatedly assure her viewers that they should no longer avoid garlic as something “suspiciously foreign, probably subversive, and certainly very lower-class.” From her homey kitchen in Cambridge, Massachusetts, she started nothing less than a culinary revolution, rescuing garlic from its one-time confinement in old ethnic and urban communities and unleashing it on my mother’s and other’s 1960s suburban kitchens. When I was growing up, my mother wore a blue and white striped apron with a red pocket that said, “Thank you, Julia Child.” I couldn’t agree more!

Here are three of Child’s best garlic-infused recipes. Bon Appetit!

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

30 cloves of garlic
4 T. butter
2 T. flour
1 c boiling milk
1/4 t. salt
Pinch of white pepper

Drop garlic into boiling water and boil for 2 minutes. Drain and peel. Melt butter in small heavy-bottom saucepan and cook garlic slowly in butter, covered, for about 20 minutes until soft but not browned. Add flour and stir over low heat for 2 minute. Off heat stir in milk, salt, and pepper. Return to heat and simmer for 1 minute, stirring. Press through a sieve or puree in a food processor. Set aside.

2-1/2 lbs baking potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 T. softened butter
White pepper
2-4 T. whipping cream
4 T. minced parsley

Boil or microwave potatoes until soft then drain and put through a potato ricer or food mill. Return to pan and stir over low heat for a few minutes to evaporate some of the excess moisture. As soon as the puree begins to form a film on the bottom of the pan remove from heat and beat in the butter 1 T. at a time. Add salt and pepper to taste. Beat in the garlic sauce and enough cream to reach the desired consistency. Beat in the minced parsley and serve.

Herb, Lemon, and Garlic Roast Chicken with Watercress

2 lemons, halved, juiced and halves reserved
4 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
6 cloves garlic, crushed, unpeeled
salt and fresh ground black pepper as needed
4-5 lb whole chicken
1 onion, sliced
1 T, olive oil
1/2 c. chicken stock or broth
2 T. walnut or hazelnut oil
2 bunch watercress, stemmed, washed and dried

In a large mixing bowl, add the lemons and juice, thyme, rosemary, garlic, black pepper, and salt. Whisk together and add the chicken to the bowl. Turn the chicken to coat on all sides. Fill the cavity with the contents on the bowl, and tie the legs together with a piece of string.

Choose a heavy-duty 9 x 13-inch metal or flame-proof glass baking dish, and add the onions to the bottom. Place the chicken in the baking dish, and pour over the rest of the liquid. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil, and season generously with salt, and place in a preheated 400 degrees F. oven for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until an internal temp of 165 degrees F.

Remove the chicken to a plate and cover with foil again while you make the sauce. Add the chicken stock to the baking dish and scrap the bottom of the pan to deglaze any of the caramelized juices. Strain the liquid into a bowl, add the walnut or hazelnut oil and whisk to combine. Pour any juices that have collected on the plate under the chicken. Taste for salt and fresh ground black pepper, and adjust.

To serve, toss the watercress in a large bowl with half the hot sauce to wilt it very slightly. Divide the greens on plates. Cut the chicken into serving pieces and top the watercress. Spooning over the remaining sauce.

Shrimp in Lemon and Garlic

30 shrimp
5 T. olive oil
1 or 2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lemon peel, minced
soy sauce
parsley, minced
fresh dill
salt and pepper

Sauté 30 “large medium” peeled and de-veined raw shrimp in 3 tablespoons olive oil with 1 or 2 large cloves of garlic and the minced zest of half a lemon.

When the shrimp have curled, in 2 minutes or so, and feel springy, remove from heat and toss with 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, drops of soy sauce, and salt and pepper to taste.

Toss again, with 2 tablespoons of fine fresh olive oil and a sprinkling of minced parsley and fresh dill.

NOTE: The JC100 logo is from Gourmet. I couldn’t find out who designed it (or I would have given them proper credit) but it’s perfect.


3 responses to “Happy 100th Birthday Julia Child!

  1. Very nice tribute to one the greats!

  2. As teenager I watched Julia Child’s TV show with my mother. She has inspired me ever since. Thank you for honoring Juliea. Bon Appetit!

  3. Thank you Robin! I need to print these out. I once spent an entire winter trying to perfect garlic mashed potatoes.

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