I'm not a huge TV watcher. When I do watch, I'm usually drawn to the food network and those weird food shows on the public station. Despite this, I only recall catching a Julia Child show twice in my whole life. Strangely, I could recognize her voice anywhere. Julia Child is a culinary fixture, the literal voice of a movement, the Chuck Norris of the kitchen. To many, her recipes are timeless classics. To others, her dishes are antiquated and reminiscent of a time long before I was wielding a spatula, that's for sure. The Julia of my mind leans toward the latter...a person you know through the collective filters of popular culture, certainly not accessible. Definitely not an inspiration to me.
When I read Julie & Julia, (a book inspired by the true story of a pioneering food blogger who randomly decides to make all 524 recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days) I expected to be alienated, punished for not knowing a thing about Julia Child- a no-no in the food world. Instead I found something I could relate to... a real life Julia seen through the eyes of someone like me- a complete and utter non-pro. Did you know Julia Child started cooking when she was 32? If that's not an inspiration to try new things, I don't know what is.
In celebration of the triump of two 30ish women with the cajones to try something new, I decided to get all Julie/Julia and make a recipe from MTAOFC myself. I chose Ratatouille because it looked the EASIEST! Guess what? Not Easy! Am I a convert to Julia's ways? Absolutley not. Do I respect them? Completely. Just be prepared to do a lot of dishes because one dish wonders are not Julia's forte. And remember, do as Julia says!
Ratatouille- From Mastering the Art of French Cooking ( sourced from Bon Apetit August 2009)
Ingredients 1/2 pound eggplant 1/2 pound zucchini, trimmed 1 teaspoon salt 7 tablespoons olive oil, divided 1 8-ounce onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups) 2 green bell peppers, thinly sliced into strips 2 garlic cloves, pressed 1 pound firm but ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, cut into 3/8- to 1/4-inch-thick strips 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1. Promptly freak out about eggplant looking like a Conehead. Impersonate Coneheads for 3 minutes while watching the eggplant impersonate James Dean in the fridge.
Peel eggplant; cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, then cut into 3-inch-long, 1-inch-wide strips. Cut zucchini into same size strips. Place vegetables in large bowl; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Let stand 30 minutes. Drain; dry with paper towels.
Heat 4 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add eggplant and zucchini to skillet; sauté until light golden, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to plate; reserve.
Add 3 tablespoons oil to skillet; heat over medium heat. Add onion and peppers; sauté until just tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
Place tomato strips atop onion-pepper mixture in skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover skillet; cook over low heat until tomatoes begin to juice, about 5 minutes. Uncover; baste vegetables in skillet with juices. Boil until juices are almost evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer 1/3 of onion-pepper-tomato mixture to 2 1/2-quart pot; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parsley. Top with half of eggplant and half of zucchini, then remaining onion-pepper-tomato mixture; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parsley. Layer remaining eggplant and zucchini over; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parsley. Cover; simmer over low heat 10 minutes.
Uncover; tilt pot and baste with accumulated juices. Increase heat to medium; simmer uncovered, basting several times with pan juices until only 2 to 3 tablespoons juices remain in pot, watching closely to avoid scorching, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper.
You get all that? Makes Rachel Ray seem downright concise.
When you get all the dishes done, be sure to see Julia go to the masses when Julie & Julia, the movie, opens on August 7th.