Posts Labeled ‘julia child’

My Go-To Cookbooks: Part Four

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking is an absolute must-have cookbook. My copy sits on the first shelf of my cookbook bookcase and is part of my go-to cookbook collection.

The bottom shelf features "staple" cookbooks along with inspiring reads

The cookbook is and was essential long before its appearance as the “leading role” in the Julie & Julia book and movie, because it really is one of the foremost primer’s on classic recipes and essential techniques. It has hundreds of recipes and, unlike Julie Powell, I have not tried them all. A few, however, are particular standouts from the one’s I’ve tried.

I discovered Suprêmes de Volaille à l’ Écossaise (Chicken Breasts with Diced Aromatic Vegetables and Cream) one evening when my husband and I didn’t have time to go to the grocery store and needed to figure out something we could cook with ingredients we had on hand.

Calling for only carrots, celery, and onions (staples we tend to stock) along with chicken and a few other staples, the recipe was delicious and easy to make. It’s not for the calorie-conscious, but the richness and elegant simplicity are hard to resist. The recipe is perfect to make when good friends pop over for dinner. It will look like you slaved all day in the kitchen and will taste that way, too!

Before Julia, my scrambled eggs — another of the recipes I love in this book — were mediocre at best. Her recipe revolutionized my breakfast. (Hint: The secret is low heat and continuous stirring.)

Child’s book would be a perfect gift for newlyweds or aspiring chefs. I know I can’t wait to tackle more of it!

Top Ten Posts of 2009

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season! My vacation ended yesterday and as such I am easing back into work and to blog posting.

This time of year is the time for lists and reflection, so it seems only fitting to look back at some of the most popular Rex & Regina posts over the last year. These popular posts reflect the three main categories regularly featured on the blog: weddings, social events, and at-home entertaining.

1. First on the list is the series dedicated to Julia Child and the release of the movie, Julie & Julia. The series included my humble review of the movie, information about Julia Child’s kitchen at the Smithsonian, Julia-themed party ideas, and other Julia resources.

photo via www.foodandwine.com

photo via www.foodandwine.com

2. Serving trays are entertaining essential. This next top post featured  fabulous trays for everyday entertaining.

lucite tray from Dabney Lee At Home

lucite tray from Dabney Lee At Home

3. It’s always helpful to know the Do’s and Don’ts when bringing wine to a party.

"Cheers" wine gift bag, available from The Craft Pantry on Etsy

"Cheers" wine gift bag, available from The Craft Pantry on Etsy

4. Napkins are a perennial topic for entertainers. This two-part series looked at eco-chic entertaining with napkins. The first post talks about the beauty and practicality of napkin rings and the second looks at just how cool cloth cocktail napkins can be.

Leontine Linens RIley Cocktail Napkins

Leontine Linens RIley Cocktail Napkins

5. Cupcakes were all the rage in 2009, but artisan chocolates were the new dark horse in sweet treats.

Fleur de Sel Chocolates from Recchiuti

Fleur de Sel Chocolates from Recchiuti

6. A good host is always prepared for overnight guests and the tips in this next post provide a good checklist.

Silver Bamboo Clock from Williams-Sonoma Home

Silver Bamboo Clock from Williams-Sonoma Home

The final four popular posts on the list are all wedding-related.

7. I get a lot of questions about children at weddings — whether to invite them, how to entertain them… This post provides some helpful tips on the subject.

Photo courtesy of Karine Aigner Photography

Photo courtesy of Karine Aigner Photography

8. Another question I regularly answer is the difference between escort and place cards — an important distinction.

Escort cards, photo courtesy of Baltazar Photography

Escort cards, photo courtesy of Baltazar Photography

9. Weddings are a great time to  collect wishes and advice from friends and family. This post provided some creative ways to do just that.

Wish guest book; photo courtesy of CB Photography

Wish guest book; photo courtesy of CB Photography

10. A great way to extend hospitality to your wedding guests is to offer them a gift bag upon arrival at the hotel. This post outlined the elements of the ultimate gift bag.

City Out-of-Town Totes available at Blissweddingsmarket.com

City Out-of-Town Totes available at Blissweddingsmarket.com

The Best Wedding Gift of All Time? The Panini Grill

August is Panini Month. That’s right. Panini Month. When I learned about this from @Foodimentary on Twitter, I nearly fainted from excitement.

I love panini. But not just any ‘ol panini. I particularly love the panini I build from scratch in my very own kitchen.

The absolute best wedding gift we received when we got married was our Krups Panini Maker (thanks, Dianne and Jay!). I think we used it every week for at least the first year of our marriage. We made savory panini with prosciutto or with brie and apples, and sweet panini with nutella and bananas.

Brides, if you have not already added a panini grill to your registry, do so immediately. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Just add it!

One of the things I love about a panini grill is that it begs for creativity, inviting you to find the absolute best combination of bread, ingredients, and condiments for that perfect sandwich creation. And, it’s interactive. My husband even brings our panini grill into work for occasional “Panini Fridays” with his team at the office.

So, knowing it was Panini Month, I thought it only right to celebrate with a nice panini and soup lunch this past weekend. For my panini creation, I chose to pile on a few of my favorite ingredients:  Cowgirl Creamery Mt Tam Triple Cream cheese, thinly sliced Granny Smith apples, and baby spinach — all set between two slices of fresh French bread from Cenan’s Bakery in Vienna.

Triple Cream, Apples, and Spinach Panini

Triple Cream, Apples, and Spinach Panini

To accompany the panini, we made Onion Soup from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and served them both on a panini plate.

French Onion Soup and Panini

French Onion Soup and Panini

Happy Panini Month, everyone!

Happy Birthday, Julia Child!

Julia Child would have turned 97 years old today. With or without the recent release of the movie Julie & Julia, Child’s birthday is certainly a significant day in the culinary world.

There are so many wonderful ways to celebrate the day and honor her talents, ranging from cooking one of her recipes, watching one of her PBS shows, or hosting a party in her honor.  And, of course, there are smaller ways to tip your cap to the culinary legend.

For example, how adorable is this apron from Sara Smedley on Etsy?! She’s taken the motif from the cover of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1 and replicated it on a linen apron. Matching tea towels are also available.

Julia Vol. 1 Butcher's Apron by Sara Smedley on Etsy

Julia Vol. 1 Butcher's Apron by Sara Smedley on Etsy

For more of Rex & Regina’s thoughts on ways to celebrate Julie Child, check out Day One, Day TwoDay Three, Day Four, and Day Five of our recent series counting down to Julie & Julia and remembering the great Julia Child.

Day Five – Celebrating Julia Child: Counting Down to Julie & Julia

photo via www.ew.com

photo via www.ew.com

And we made it! Our countdown to the opening of Julie & Julia is complete. What a great week of all Julia Child all the time!

My husband and I just returned from the 7:10 p.m. showing of the film. As his Facebook status confirms, he was one of the only men in the theater under the age of 60. What a trooper!

The movie alternates between telling the story of Julia Child as she undertakes the writing of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and the blogger, Julie Powell, who spends a year trying to conquer it.

Meryl Streep’s interpretation of the jubilant, larger-than-life Julia Child was phenomenal. Streep captures Child’s quirky and sometimes awkward mannerisms and her all-too-famous squawky voice with perfect precision.

The stylists did an impressive job of transforming Streep into the tall, curly-haired brunette. And the costumes! Ah, the costumes! The period-wear in the Child sequences was gorgeous. I found myself drooling over the party-wear in one particular scene when Julia Child’s sister comes to visit. Amy Adams’ wardrobe of flirty vintage finds was also convincing.

As I watched Paul and Julia Child enjoying their years living in Europe it made me remember my own year-long European stint and my subsequent travels around the continent. As Julia walked through the food stalls and markets of Paris, I fondly recalled the faces of my favorite open-air market vendors in Madrid — the kind woman who sold pechuga de pollo and huevos who seemed to take pity on me and my broken Spanish; the older couple who sold vegetables who were always nicer than their rival purveyors one stall over; and the butcher who patiently explained how best to cook whatever cut of beef I had requested that day. Food in Europe — and the experience of buying and cooking it — is incomparable to anything else. Maybe that’s why Julia’s book was so groundbreaking: a cookbook daring to teach Americans to eat, cook, and savor food like the French.

My one disappointment in the film was the Julie Powell storyline. It fell flat for me and at times was little slow. Was I supposed to identify with her? Feel sorry for her? Cheer her on? It was unclear.

Overall, I found the film very enjoyable and a great capstone to this Julia Child Tribute Week! But, thankfully, the tribute doesn’t need to end. There are Child’s cookbooks we can always turn to, as well as her television segments, courtesy of PBS.

Next week we’re back to our regular focus on all things entertaining — weddings, parties, and gracious hosting. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Reviews

Day Four – Celebrating Julia Child: A Countdown to Julie & Julia

Just one more day until Julie & Julia hits the theaters!

For Day Four of Celebrating Julia Child: A Countdown to Julie & Julia, I am taking inspiration from the August issue of Food & Wine magazine. The magazine suggests hosting a “We Heart Julia” Party with one of Julia Child’s favorite dishes: quiche.

photo via www.foodandwine.com

photo via www.foodandwine.com

Adorable party favor ideas include aprons and t-shirts with Julia Child quotes. Another idea is to order a set of 4-6 custom napkins (foryourparty.com is a great source) each featuring a different Julia Child quote.

Can’t get enough of Julia Child and Julie & Julia? Check out:

Dean & Deluca has a crush on Julia Child!

Why else would they host a contest in connection with the Julie & Julia movie?! Test your luck and enter to win a fabulous Dean & Deluca prize!

For more Rex & Regina chatter about Julie Child, check out Day One, Day Two, and Day Three of this series and stay tuned tomorrow for another entry!

Day Three – Celebrating Julia Child: A Countdown to Julie & Julia

One of my dearest friends is in town this week from Kansas City with her seven-year-old daughter. When she mentioned they wanted to do some site-seeing downtown, I asked — OK, begged — her if she’d be willing to include the National Museum of American History on the list. The good sports that she and her daughter are, we all went today to the Museum. As soon as we walked in the doors it was all I could do to not run to the Julia Child kitchen.

Bon Appetit! Julia Child's Kitchen at the Smithsonian

Bon Appetit! Julia Child's Kitchen at the Smithsonian

If you have not seen the Bon Appetit exhibit, I highly commend it to you. To literally peer into Julia Child’s famed kitchen is a thrill. One of the things that always impresses me with the kitchen are the pots and pans. Paul Child, Julia’s husband, traced each of Julia’s pots onto a pegboard wall in their kitchen so that each pot could easily be returned to its rightful home.

And, oh, the gadgets! I love Julia’s kitchen gadgets. The self-proclaimed gadget freak, Julia had quite the collection. I was particularly impressed with the “boil over disk” — a tool that I had never heard of — that prevents pots from boiling over. Clever! Some of Julia’s favorites kitchen gadgets are discussed in a Food & Wine magazine article which is worth checking out.

The sheer feat of getting Child’s kitchen to the museum to establish an exhibit was incredible. The Smithsonian chronicled the painstakingly detailed process in a website.

What's Cooking? Julia Child's Kitchen at the Smithsonian

What's Cooking? Julia Child's Kitchen at the Smithsonian

For DC Area locals, we are so fortunate that the Museum is just around the corner. In honor of Julia Child and the release of Julie & Julia, I encourage you to plan a trip to the American History Museum and visit the exhibit. It would make for a great excuse to pack a picnic (check out this post for inspiration) to enjoy on the Mall.

If you are not able to make it to the museum this weekend, consider going on Saturday, August 29, when author Laura Shapiro will be there to sign her new book, Julia Child: A Life.
When: Saturday, August 29, 2009, 2 – 4 PM
Location: American History Museum, Outside Mall Museum Store, 2nd Floor
Cost: Books available for sale in Museum Store

For more Julia-inspired blog posts, check out Day One and Day Two of the series, and stay tuned for more posts this week!

Day Two – Celebrating Julia Child: A Countdown to Julie & Julia

Julie and Julia Movie, photo from www.julieandjulia.com

photo from www.julieandjulia.com

I am a planner by nature. To plan my schedule daily, weekly, monthly — oh, let’s face it — to plan anything is just in my blood. So today’s post is all about sharing that neurosis and helping readers plan in advance for this weekend’s opening of Julie and Julia!

Here are a few simple steps for planning the perfect movie night:

1) Choose your companions.

Decide who you should take with you to the movie. Julie & Julia is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, a chic flick. That said, I think its culinary theme may give it broader appeal to foodies male and female alike. And dare I say, it could be a nice date movie.

Meryl Streep is said to masterfully capture Julia Child’s quirky demeanor;  Amy Adams, a bright rising star, is also getting good reviews.

So, you can make it a girls-night-out, a date night, or even a group outing. Just be sure to watch it with someone who has a modicum of interest in food lest you miss out on the pleasures of debriefing about deboning ducks and the proper way to poach eggs.

2) Find a theater.

The location of the theater should be convenient for you and your guests. Check out Fandango for theater times and showings.

3) Figure out where to eat.

Going to a movie about cooking without arranging to partake in some good eats is simply unacceptable! Consider…

  • having guests over for a Julia Child potluck before the movie, asking each person to bring a course for the meal made from a recipe in one of Child’s cookbooks.
  • making a full Julia Child menu yourself, should time and resources permit.
  • letting someone else do the cooking! One fabulous option is the special pre-fixe menu in celebration of Julia Child that Inox in Tysons Corner is offering now through August 31. If you are a city-dweller, yes, it would mean a trip to the suburbs, but trust me, based on my recent dining experiences at Inox, it will be worth it.

4) Celebrate!

After the movie, treat your guests to a special dessert to celebrate Julia Child. You might consider surprising them as you leave the theater with cupcakes or other individual-size treats or, if you want to go all out, go home to enjoy a cake or pastries from Baking with Julia.

For more on how to celebrate Julia Child and the upcoming release of Julie and Julia, check out the first post in the series and stay tuned for more posts throughout the week!

Celebrating Julia Child: A Countdown to Julie & Julia

photo by Getty Images via Harper's Bazaar

photo by Getty Images via Harper's Bazaar

I’ve only read a few biographies in my life. If there was ever an argument to start reading more of them it would have to be An Appetite for Life: The Biography of Julia Child. I read it years ago and it remains one of the most inspiring books in my library.  With each page I turned, it was as if  Julia was standing in front of me, her tall frame planted firmly and her fists in the air like a boxer after winning a fight, urging me to live life. To drink it up. To make the most of every minute. And above all, to eat and cook well.

An Appetite for Life, available at Amazon.com

An Appetite for Life, available at Amazon.com

Julia Child was a remarkable woman (even if an easy target for shows like Saturday Night Live). Independent. Sharp. Bold. I remember being floored to learn that she once worked for the OSS, the precursor to the CIA.

Perhaps it was Child’s dynamism that led Julie Powell to choose one of her cookbooks for her yearlong cooking-challenge-turned-into-life-lesson adventure, the Julie Julie/Julia Project.

Powell, a young, married, government worker decided one day to cook through Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year.  As Powell notes in her very first blog entry where she lays down the gauntlet, “365 days. 536 recipes. One girl and a crappy outer borough kitchen.”

Powell later turned the blog into a book.  After sharing with him that I might want to read it, my husband included a copy of Julie and Julia in an Amazon order he placed earlier this summer. From the time it came in the mail, I could not put it down. Powell’s writing is good, but the concept behind  it all is even better. What would happen if you set out to accomplish a culinary goal of working your way through an entire cookbook? What would you learn along the way (besides how to poach an egg or make aspic)?

The book became a movie which is due out this weekend  (August 7). In honor of the movie and Julia Child, whose birthday, August 15, is just around the corner  (more on that in future posts….), I am starting a countdown to the movie starting…. now.

There’s a lot we can learn from Julia Child — and a lot, I think, that we can learn from Powell through her culinary adventure. Stay tuned! It’s going to be a great week!

And in the words of Julia Child, Bon Appétit!

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