In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude."
~ Julia Child
I first of all want to thank you for your patience while my IT friend rid me of the nastiest computer virus yet. I think I will recommend him for Sainthood. A writer without Internet or access to their blog for a few days is like being a chef without any ingredients. I literally felt like someone had strangled my voice and hid my keyboard in a black hole. I know I am being over dramatic. I don't know if it is possible to catch up on all your wonderful posts, but I will do my best. I am more than happy to say..she's back......
There’s something so wonderful about cooking from a recipe. By following the directions, ingredient for ingredient, you are channeling the culinary spirit of the chef that created the dish. When the dish is complete and you sample the flavours, you are able to sit back and take an objective view. You can marvel at the genius that married those singular flavours together but by cooking dishes created by the masters, you begin to understand the inspirations of a chef from the inside out. The recipe is a starting point and a guideline since from there you are on your own and limited only by your imagination!
And so to honour the masters Gourmet Live brought out a list of the 50 most influential women in food...Fifty women game changers. Some are chefs, some are food writers, and some are women who are passionate about the creative process. You could certainly add or detract women from this list since it is one persons opinion, and biased from an American point of view, but no matter what these women have all influenced us in one way or another. Being a woman and passionate about food myself I wanted to explore and not only learn from the masters but recreate some of their dishes to better understand what has shaped and molded them into who they are today.
One of my favourite well-travelled bloggers Mary of One Perfect Bite invited bloggers to travel along on a culinary journey. For the next 50 weeks we will experiment with dishes from each of the 50 influential women on "the list". I have already come up with some who do not have recipes but they deserve their moment in the sun too. Whether you agree or disagree with the authors chosen fifty it will be an enjoyable and creative outlet to cook from the masters. My cohorts for this adventure so far will be Joanne of Eats Well with Others and Claudia of A Seasonal Cook in Turkey. If you would like to join in please contact Mary. This is an informal event and you have the flexibility to follow along when you can. She will be posting every Friday.
The first woman on the list needs absolutely no introduction. Ever since the film Julie and Julia came out last year, it seems Julia Child is on everyones radar, foodies and non-foodies alike. The fact that Julia started her passion for food and cooking so late in life makes us "kindred spirits" although, like me, I am sure she had a passion for food from the very beginning, she just didn't know it. She is so inspiring to me because of her outlook on life and her unending joy for her chosen path. I’m happy to say her wonderful recipes and independent spirit are still alive!!!! When I was in Washington DC a few weekends ago I would have loved to spend time in her kitchen at the Smithsonian but sadly there are only so many hours in a day aren't there?
We are all blessed to be among those who owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Julia Child for her tireless guidance, enlightenment, inspiration, and encouragement through the decades. She set a tremendous example for us, not only with her culinary expertise, but also with her marvelous sense of humor, and her indomitable grace and aplomb in sticky situations and live television. Her work speaks for itself!!! Bloopers such as “First you take a leek…” would perhaps have destroyed the career of those less self-assured than our Julia. Long may she reign as the number one most influential woman in food, in my humble opinion.
At the time when she created this recipe for her cookbook she was probably one of the few people around who had witnessed the real Caesar Cardini making his salad. She was about 9 years old when her parents took her to his restaurant in Tijuana, just the other side of the border from San Diego. As excerpted from her book, when Caesar Cardini first served his famous salad in the early 1920s, he used just the hearts of the romaine lettuce, the tender short leaves in the center, and he presented them whole exactly like this recipe from Julia Child. The salad was tossed and dressed, then arranged on each plate so that you could get your hands into it and pick up each leaf by its short end and savour every bite. Many customers didn't like to get their fingers covered with egg-and-cheese-and-garlic dressing, so he changed to the conventional torn leaf type of salad. Too bad, since the salad lost much of its individuality and drama. I decided to resurrect the original Caesar salad from Caesar's at home... providing my guests with plenty of big paper napkins. I love to eat with my hands!!! It's so primal!!!You can read Julia's full account from her book Julia Childs Kitchen here.
What have our other kindred spirits been up to?
Mary - Poulet Saute aux Herbes de Provence
Joanne - Pain Brioche
Claudia - Navarin Printanier
Heather of Girlichef - Hollandaise
Who has influenced you the most throughout the years and inspired your love for cooking?
**Julia Child's Caesar Salad**
- 18 to 24 crisp, narrow leaves from the hearts of 2 heads of romaine lettuce, or a package of romaine hearts (about 1 pound)
- ½ baguette, cut into cubes
- 1 large clove garlic, peeled
- ¼ cup or more excellent olive oil
- – salt
- 1 large egg
- – freshly ground black pepper
- 1 whole lemon, halved and seeded
- 3 drops Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, imported Parmigiano-Reggiano only
To flavour the croutons, crush the garlic clove with the flat of a chef’s knife, sprinkle on ¼ teaspoon of salt, and mince well. Pour about a tablespoon of olive oil on the garlic and mash again with the knife, rubbing and pressing to make a soft purée.
Scrape the purée into the frying pan, add another tablespoon of oil, and warm over low-medium heat. Add the croutons and toss for a minute or two to infuse them with the garlic oil, then remove from the heat. (For a milder garlic flavour, you can strain the purée though a small sieve into a pan before adding the extra croutons. Discard the bits of garlic.)
To coddle the egg, bring a small saucepan of water to a simmer. Pierce the large end of the egg with a pushpin to prevent cracking, then simmer for exactly 1 minute.
Mixing and serving the Caesar: Dress the salad just before serving. Have ready all the dressing ingredients and a salad fork and spoon for tossing.
Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the romaine leaves and toss to coat, lifting the leaves from the bottom and turning them towards you, so they tumble over like a wave. Sprinkle them with a generous pinch of salt and several grinds of pepper, toss once or twice, then add the lemon juice and several drops of the Worcestershire, and toss again. Taste for seasoning, and add more, if needed.
Crack the egg and drop it right on the romaine leaves, then toss to break it up and coat the leaves. Sprinkle on the cheese, toss briefly, then add the croutons (and the garlicky bits in the pan, if you wish) and toss for the last time, just to mix them into the salad.
Arrange 6 or more leaves in a single layer on individual plates, scatter the croutons all around, and serve.
Serves 2 - 3
You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.