Tag Archives: Julia Child

Just a Spoonful of Water Makes It Better

In this time of separate and distant, as we try to cope with not meeting our favorite person for coffee and cake, or connecting with a like-minded group to discuss a book over food relevant to the plot, I scurried to find store bought cookies to ease me into comfort.

Ah, but to venture into a store was to risk contagion, despite the plastic screens in front of the cashiers at Whole Foods and the yellow tapes marking six foot distance.  Not many millennials venture in, but when they do, their sense of immortality tends to drive them to ignore science-based suggestions.  I could order cookies from Amazon, but then I would need to wipe down the cartons inside and out, and those handiwipes are precious, better saved for my hands when needed.

A friend, noting my dilemma, suggested I make my own cookies.  I always have a stash of semi-sweet chocolate and sugar.  Recently, I had bought a ten pound bag of organic flour on sale – before I knew I would be housebound.  Why not make the most comfort laden food I knew.  And, I could control everything in the process, in a time when control of anything seems almost impossible, from the dough to the oven to the delivery – without packaging.

Toll House Cookies

If you have made the traditional Toll House cookies lately from the recipe on the bag, you may have noticed the teaspoon of hot water has been omitted from the ingredients.  Originally the water was used to dissolve the baking soda, a step most modern bakers no longer use.  Earlier forms of leavening, including baking soda, were chunkier than now, and a little water helped to keep out the granular specks.

I’m not sure when it disappeared from the wrapper, bu I still add it.  Does it make a difference?  I’ve never tried making the cookies without it, so cannot judge, but if you have, let me know.

It’s Julia Child’s Birthday Today

In honor of Julia Child’s birthday, I wanted to eat.  Going off to Paris was not an option, and no French restaurants were open in the area – but Julia would want me to cook.

Channeling her joie de vivre and her courage to use whatever happened to be on the shelf, I found shallots, garlic, elbow macaroni, olive oil, fresh parsley and basil from the little pots I nurtured – and Romano Pecorino cheese.

After slicing the shallots and chopping the garlic, I heat the pan before pouring in a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil.  First – the shallots sautéed to a shimmer; then the garlic – just soft, not burnt.  In the meantime, the pasta boiled to al dente in 6 minutes.

I poured the shallots and garlic into a deep crockery bowl from my Grandmother’s era, and then remembered her cheese trick.  I grated the cheese into the now empty shallot/garlic pan – mmm, melted cheese – browning and aromatic.

Only a cup of the macaroni went into the crock (I had used only one shallot and 2 cloves of garlic – lunch for one).  Then, the chopped parsley and basil and, finally, the liquid cheese.  I gently tossed all together, and sat down to eat right out of the bowl.

A moan of pleasure out of my mouth and a toast to Julia – happy birthday!  No pictures – ate it all!

Julia Child’s Queen of Sheba Cake

This rich chocolate and almond cake reminds me of a volcano cake – soft and gooey in the center.  I usually skip the icing and sprinkle a little confectioner’s sugar on top.  It never lasts very long when I make it.

Queen of Sheba Cake

from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking

  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, plus 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons rum
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup blanched almond (pulverized in blender or food processor with 2  tablespoons granulated sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup cake flour

Melt the chocolate in microwave; add rum to warm chocolate.  Cream butter with ½ cup sugar; beat in egg yolks. Blend melted chocolate and rum into yolk mixture, then add crushed almonds and almond extract.

In another bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Beat in the cream of tartar and salt and continue beating until soft peaks are formed. Gradually beat in 2 tablespoons sugar and continue beating until you see stiff, shiny peaks. Gently mix a quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, using a rubber spatula. Scoop the rest of the whites over  the chocolate and, alternating with sprinkles of flour, rapidly and gently fold in the rest of egg whites.

Turn batter into buttered and floured 8 inch round cake pan, tilting it in all directions up to the rim all around. Set in preheated 350 degree oven. Bake 25 minutes.  Cake is done when puffed to the top and a toothpick inserted 2 to 3 inches from edge comes out clean. The center should move slightly when the pan is gently shaken.  Do not overcook. Remove pan to a rack and let cool 15 minutes. Wait another half hour before trying to remove from the pan, or serve it in the pan (easier).

Add a little ice cream on the side of the dish, if you like, but it’s really great all by itself. You can eat it with a spoon.