Posts Tagged ‘Julie & Julia’

This is what happens when you go see “Julie & Julia” with foodie friends: at the end, when Julie triumphantly brings out the “Pate de Canard en Croute” (aka Boned Stuffed Duck Baked in a Pastry Crust) you look at each and vow, “We are SO doing that!”

So, yesterday, we did.


Mise en Place--we're ready to begin

Rosemary, Vikki, Carol and I began just after 11 am, bearing in mind that the thing has to bake 2 hours, sit several hours, then chill for hours more–and that’s AFTER you bone & stuff the thing. We eventually dined at 8 pm, which seemed quite reasonable, really.

First step, boning the duck.
Cutting into duck

Well, honestly, the first step was Rosemary’s mistletoe mojitos. Dissecting a duck can drive a girl to drink.

Rosemary making mojitos

It's 5:00 somewhere

Then the butchery commenced. Julia warns “…the procedure may take 45 minutes the first time because of fright” and while we weren’t exactly frightened, it did take about that long.

This could explain why it took that long...

Eventually we did accomplish what Julia calls “an unrecognizable mass of confusion” which was seasoned with allspice, cognac, port, and truffle oil and left to sit while the stuffing was prepared.

half-boned duck

Yep, that's pretty confusing

Note: at this point I had to run out for a hair appt–it was unavoidable. But my friends carried on in my absence, ransacking my kitchen, creating the pork & veal stuffing…

duck stuffing

Pork, veal, & pork fat. Mmmm.

…wrapping the boneless duck suit around said stuffing, and lacing it all together…

stuffed trussed duck

It looks just like the book!

And browning it beautifully.

Browned duck

It's a thing of beauty!

Upon my return, my job was to make the crust, the “croute” of the title.

Team Duck

Then our avian friend was wrapped in swaddling dough and laid in a baking pan–and off to the oven it went. Two hours later, the house smelled divine and it looked like this:

Baked duck

Wouldn't Julia Child be proud?

Of course, it had to cool and chill for hours more, so a movie or two later Rosemary whipped up a fantabulous cheese souffle:

Cheese souffle

Souffle au Fromage

And attempted Hollandaise sauce for the broccoli…

Rosemary reading recipe

This ain't how Emeril does it...

…which was rather less successful.

Hollandaise gone horribly wrong

But never mind. The duck was divine, the souffle perfection, the broccoli was fine with a little butter & lemon juice, Carol’s chocolate bread pudding with brandy sauce was delicious, and a grand time was had by all. (Vikki & Rosemary had such a grand time they ended up spending the night.)

So, we have conquered the duck. And while it’s not something I’d make every week, I would consider it for a (very) special occasion. Meanwhile, our merry band of foodies is already plotting next year’s holiday cooking extravaganza. We’re thinking “Filet de Boeuf Braise Prince Albert” which in English is “Braised Filet of Beef Stuffed with Foie Gras and Truffles”. Or maybe…

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Cream Puffs & Cookbook

Dedicated food nerd that I am, I’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of the new movie Julie & Julia for months. Being of a social disposition, I thought it only right that my personal premiere should include food—and not just any food, but dishes from Julia Child’s seminal work, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

After scaling back my original party vision (handmade invitations, houseful of people, 5 course meal, Julia Child impression contest, fabulous prizes…) due to budget constraints, I ended up inviting a few friends over for a Julie Child pot-luck and trip to the movie.

My guest list included two of my Dallas Symphony Chorus foodie group friends. We’ve been singing together for 15 years, give or take, and for something like 8 of those years we’ve held several dinner parties each season, all themed around the music we were performing. Menus have included everything from schnitzel and spaetzle (we sing a lot of German music) to New York-style pizza (Bernstein) and borscht (Tchaikovsky). With all this experience (literally) under our belts, we felt pretty confident tackling The French Chef.

Unfortunately, only one of us actually owned the cookbook—and that someone was not me. On the plus side, the fabulous McKinney library does own a copy, and it was even on the shelf when I went to look for it. Considering this was the week before J-Day (August 7, the day Julie & Julia released), I took that as a sign of divine favor and left the library rejoicing.

After several phone calls, we had our menu. Rosemary would make vichyssoise, which while not actually in Mastering the Art… was a JC recipe. Vikki, who does have the book, offered to make coq au vin. Holly, who is not a foodie, brought a wonderful whole-grain baguette.

I—surprise, surprise—tackled dessert. But which dessert? I bake cakes all the time, so I didn’t want to go there. The apple tart sounded delicious but. . . I eventually decided on cream puffs. I really wanted to make a croquenbouche—it’s kind of a Christmas tree-shaped tower of cream puffs decorated with lacy sugar garland—but apparently one has to have a special form, along the lines of a metal traffic cone, to pull that off. So plain old cream puffs—filled with Cream St. Honore flavored with crème de cacao and topped with homemade caramel—would have to do. Cream puffs are ridiculously simple, btw, so if you’re thinking of trying to make them: do.

While I would have preferred opening night, we couldn’t give proper attention to both a gourmet dinner AND a movie after work on Friday. Saturday, August 8, it was, then. And what a fabulous evening. Vikki came in costume with a vintage apron over her dress and pearls; the rest of us made do with wearing my collection of bridesmaid pearls to the movie. And the food? Oh. My.



Here’s the vichyssoise, which Rosemary informed us was created by happy accident. Apparently it was meant to be hot potato-leek soup, but someone forgot to reheat it before it went out to the customers. Nobody complained, and a new dish was born.

Coq au vin

Coq au vin

Next course, coq au vin. As Vikki said, “I knew it was going to be good when the first step was ‘Brown the bacon in butter.’” The (almost) two bottles of wine that went in it didn’t hurt either. If you’ve never tried coq au vin, run, don’t walk, to the nearest grocery store for ingredients and make it tonight. It was lick-the-plate good. Those potatoes are roasted garlic and shallot mashed potatoes left over from an earlier dinner, btw.

Roused from a food-induced coma by the sight of the clock, we dashed to the movie. Fortunately the theater is just 5 minutes from my house. It was delightful—but we were SO glad we’d eaten before we got there. It’s a rare and beautiful thing to find a film that has very little bad language, no nudity—except for a couple of chickens—happily married couples, and a satisfying ending. Not to mention the food porn…which is why we were so glad to be well-fed.

Cream Puffs

Cream Puffs

Afterwards we went back to my house, resolved to make that boned duck in the not-too-distant future, and stuffed ourselves with cream puffs. And they all lived happily ever after. Amen.

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