29 July 2011

Judith Jones Makes a Potato Dish for Julia Child

A Potato Dish for Julia Child

Who is Judith Jones you ask? She is senior editor and vice president at Knopf , having worked for them for over 50 years and can be noted for rescuing The Diary of Anne Frank from the rejects pile in 1950. And if that doesn't jog your memory, Judith is the book editor who championed a cookbook no other publisher would touch ..."Mastering the Art of French Cooking"  by Julia Child.

Even if you are not a foodie but were lucky enough to see the film "Julie and Julia" you will know that it was Judith Jones who came up with the title. Judith spoke passionately about the language of recipes as an art form and described Julia Child's prose as "earthy and precise". She called the classic cookbook "a historic breakthrough that used language to teach and encourage readers", and for housewives in the 50's it encouraged them to explore beyond the familiar recipes in their home kitchens.

From her own time in Paris and fifty years of working with great chefs including James Beard, Marion Cunningham, Marcella Hazan, Madhur Jaffrey, and John Updike, Judith figures she's learned a thing or two about cooking!!!  She co-authored  three cookbooks with her late husband Evan Jones and was inspired to write a cookbook of her own "The Pleasures of Cooking for One", after her husband passed away . She most recently published a memoir, "The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food," all the while contributing to publications like Vogue, Saveur, Departures, and Gourmet magazines. With such a distinguished list under her belt no wonder she in on the list at number 8 of 50 Women Game Changers from Gourmet Live.

One of my favourite well-travelled bloggers Mary of One Perfect Bite invited bloggers to travel along on a culinary journey throughout the year. For 50 weeks we will experiment with dishes from each of the 50 influential women on "the list". Whether you agree or disagree with the authors chosen fifty and their order it will be an enjoyable and creative outlet to cook from the masters. My cohorts for this adventure can be found below. 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.

In researching what little snippets I could find out about Judith I decided to prepare a delicate, buttery new potato dish that gets an extra boost from salty mashed garlic and cracked pepper. When I made this dish in my cast iron skillet I imagined myself in the room pouring over Julia's cookbook manuscript late one night. According to Judith's book, Julia would turn to Judith and say, "You make a nice little potato dish while I fix the meat." The fact that Judith created this simple recipe while working late at night with Julia Child was enough to make me leap from my computer keyboard and head into the kitchen. In doing so I felt I was creating a little piece of history. In that instant by following the directions, ingredient for ingredient, I was channeling the culinary spirit of the person that created the dish.  When the dish was complete and I sampled the flavours, I could marvel at the genius that married those singular flavours together and begin to understand the inspiration. I also wished that I had not made this recipe for one so that I could have much more!

The recipe comes from Judith Jones cookbook "The Pleasures of Cooking for One." Cooking for one is a HUGE reason why I continue to blog, so that I will continue to be creative in the kitchen and also enrich my every day life. Despite my upbringing, I have learned over the years that food is not just for sustenance but for the pleasure of creating a good meal for yourself, family or friends long before blogging was ever under my radar. If blogging had not popped into my life 4 years ago I might very well live on popcorn and salad for the rest of my life and be none the wiser, although perhaps a few pounds lighter...wink. Quite often recipes you find here at More Than Burnt Toast are cut in half in my own kitchen, and if possible even in quarters. If it is not possible, my freezer yields many frozen delights on any given occasion.

It leaves me with a deep set feeling of satisfaction at the end of a work day or a quiet Sunday afternoon to give some time in the kitchen to cooking, smashing garlic, chopping onions and creating all those good cooking smells which permeate every nook and cranny in my home. Stirring, tasting and then adjusting the seasoning is a comforting form of relaxation that I thoroughly enjoy. Through blogging I share it all with you, and a few select friends who are "game" for my experimentation!

 I always love the moment of drama, too, when everything comes together and I quickly dish up my handiwork, arranging it pleasingly on a warm plate, snap a few photos (hopefully in good light), and then take it to the table. On the occasions when I am eating alone I set a place for one with a cloth napkin in a napkin ring. I sometimes open up a bottle of local wine and light the candles, turn on some music, and enjoy.  I wouldn't miss this pleasure for anything!!!! But, if I really enjoy the recipe I will live off leftovers for days or better yet invite friends over to enjoy with a glass of local wine. Food is meant to be shared in one way or another afterall!

Preparation of dinner is a highlight of her day," she says. “It's really one of the sacred things in life.”

**A Potato Dish for Julia Child**
Adapted from The Pleasures of Cooking for One, by Judith Jones.
  • 2 new potatoes (about 6 ounces)
  • 1 small clove garlic (I like it garlicky so used 2 cloves)
  • Salt
  • 4 teaspoons butter
  • Freshly ground pepper
1. Peel potatoes, and slice them very thinly. ( I ised a mandolin for this step for evenly cooked slices) Peel and mince garlic, then mash it, along with a generous pinch of salt, with the flat side of a large knife until it is a paste. Work about 1/2 teaspoon butter into it.

 2. Heat 2 teaspoons butter in a small pan over medium-low heat; lay in half of potato slices, overlapping slightly, to fill the bottom. Lightly salt and pepper, and smear garlic paste on top. Add rest of potatoes to make a second layer, again overlapping.

 3. Cook, setting a small cover askew on top of pan. After about 8 minutes, turn potatoes, which should be brown on the bottom, by setting a sturdy plate on top of pan and flipping them over onto it. Heat rest of butter in pan, then slide potatoes back in and arrange them as neatly as you can. Cook semicovered for 5 minutes, and uncovered for a couple more minutes, at which point they should be done and browned, both top and bottom. Slide them onto a plate; season with salt and pepper.

For the recipe Judith uses a 4 1/2-inch square cast iron pan but says any small skillet will do.

Serves 1

What did I learn: To add several cloves of garlic mashed with salt to my potatoes. The flavour here had me wishing I had not simply made these potatoes for one!!!

What have we been up to.......

Joanne of Eats Well With Others - Vegetable Sushi Rice Salad
Heather of Girlichef - Zucchini Pancakes
Miranda of Mangoes and Chutney - Linguini with Smoked Salmon Sauce
Jeanette at Jeanette's Healthy Living - Penne with Tuna, Plum Tomatoes and Black Olives.
Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud - Cheese Souffle
Sue - TheView from Great Island - Chicken Salad
Kathleen - Bake Away with Me - Summer Pudding
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen - Roast Pork Tenderloin
Susan - The Spice Garden - Lidia’s Gratinate of Cutlet with Eggplant or Zucchini

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. Best Blogger Tips


  1. A beautiful dish! Those potatoes look incredibly scrumptious.



  2. Val, I love the imagined dialogue you created between these two great women. I learned to cook reading Julia Child and Craig Claibourne.

    Last year for Christmas we gave my FIL Judith Jones' Cooking for One cookbook and he loved it. I liked it so much I got a copy for myself, even though I don't cook for one. Some fabulous ideas in it. I'm so glad you featured Judith today.

  3. Great post, Val. The potatoes look so crisp and delicious...enough to tempt my cast iron skillet out of retirement. I like how you say that even though you are cooking for one, you are sharing your dinner and your love of food through blogging. Have a great weekend!

  4. What a lovely read, Val. I love the food you share with us and am delighted to join you at your table. I must try your potato dish first chance I get. Have a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary

  5. AnonymousJuly 29, 2011

    incorporated the butter into the garlic mash is an important step, oft omitted, in many a recipe.

    great piece, as always.

  6. Such a perfect choice, Val...and what a wonderful post. :D

  7. One beautiful post and a great tribute to a great woman. I've been wanting to get Judith Jones's book and now you've reminded me why. You made me feel like I was there with you and Judith (maybe eben Julia!)

  8. I recently read "The Tenth Muse" (for, what else, my Muse Book group) by Judith Jones and loved it! I'm happy to have this additional information.

    I'm not picking up your double dutch challenge. I couldn't even master handling the ropes!! It would be good exercise.


  9. I feel like I learned something - I love potatoes made this way with that nice browning and slight crunch - oh yum yum

  10. What an informative post to honor Judith Jones by, and I love this simple potato dish she made for Julia Child!

  11. hmmmm, new potatoes are best right now!

  12. What a great post! I feel like I have to run to the bookstore now to pick up The Pleasures of Cooking for One!

  13. I love this dish. It totally sounds like something I would throw together.

  14. What an elegant little dish for her to have prepared for Julia. This is perfect, Val, and so simple.
    This is such a fun series!

  15. Val I love these potatoes I love Julia Child recipes!! gloria

  16. I've never heard of her before but that potato dish looks like a treat Val.

  17. This was such a great description of Judith Jones and also of this process of making this dish!

  18. What a nice tribute dish! Perfect little potato dish for the meat course!

  19. These potatoes sound fantastic! And I loved reading the history of the recipe and its creator :) Great post!

  20. I'm very glad you do keep blogging! I love potato and garlic such a good combination - I think you've done Judith and Julia proud!

  21. What an amazing woman! I have to check out her cookbook.

  22. Val - Judith Jones is truly an inspiration and you have honored her well. I took her book out of the library "The Pleasures Of Cooking For One" a few months after my husband died. The joy of cooking had gone, but slowly it has come back and her cookbook is a great guide. It's great to share your food with others, but I think you have to value your own need too, for good nutrition, good taste and a pleasing meal. It's one of life's pleasures. I love Mary's idea to create this group too.

  23. AnonymousJuly 30, 2011

    I love your post and blog so much!!!.))

    I need your help. I spend another survey but this time with another question.
    "Where do you prefer to shop? What is your favorite shopping center?"

  24. Hi Val,I loved reading this post as I too had never heard of Judith Jones. I was sorry I cldn't participate but hope to join in again soon! The potatoes look yummy!!

  25. This was a great choice. Yours came out beautiful! I really enjoyed your post...you did a great job!

  26. Simply gorgeous potatoes, Val. Such a weakness to me; I'd devour the whole platter!


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