Favorite Tips From "The French Chef"
Cooking shows have been a regular part of my television viewing since long before Emeril and the Food Network became household words, or Top Chef began scoring top ratings.
Graham Kerr, Jeff Smith, Justin Wilson, Martin Yan, Marian Morash ~ they all found their way into my living room, and of course the creativity and talent you can catch on the tube today is nothing short of impressive.
But in the world of television cooking, as with so many other things, it's that first experience that ends up making a lasting impression and consequently, in my estimation, Julia Child still reigns supreme.
Photo taken from "Julia's Kitchen Wisdom" ~ captioned "Goose ready to take off"
The 2009 film "Julie and Julia," created renewed interest in Julia Child and her career, but her wealth of cooking knowledge and talent for sharing it with home cooks through television and books has been iconic in the world of food for a long, long time.
She made her television debut in 1963 on WGBH in Boston, and 46 years later her books are still among the first I grab from the shelf when I need to "consult." I love the little book she wrote in 2000 called Julia's Kitchen Wisdom. It's compiled from Julia's "trials, remedies, and errors" throughout her career in the kitchen. I thought I'd share some of my favorite and most used tips from that publication here.
- Give canned broth some fresh flavor by simmering for 15 to 20 minutes with a handful of minced carrots, onions and celery and a splash of white wine (I like to add a little parsley too).
- General salt proportions: For liquids, use 1-1/2 teaspoons per quart. For raw meat, use 3/4 to 1 teaspoon per pound.
- Roast chicken timing: Begin with a standard 45 minutes, then add 7 minutes per pound of weight - e.g. a 3-pound chicken would roast for 66 minutes.
- For maximum flavor development, the ideal temperature for rising dough is 70° to 75°F.
- Baking powder, once opened loses its strength after about six months. To test it, stir one teaspoon into 1/2 cup of hot water. It should actively produce bubbles immediately - if it doesn't, discard it and buy fresh.
- To sauté mushrooms, toss frequently them until butter (or oil) is first absorbed, then reappears on the surface. At this point, the mushrooms will begin to brown.
- Test meat for doneness frequently by pressing it with your finger - if it feels soft and squishy, it is very rare, lightly springy is medium, no spring - well done.
- Whisk together equal quantities of sour cream and heavy cream as a substitute for crème fraîche.
Three of the commenters below won a copy of "Julia's Kitchen Wisdom" (courtesy MyGourmetConnection) for letting us know what they learned from Julia Child. The contest ended on August 7, 2009, but please share any tips and inspiration you've learned from "The French Chef."
Congratulations to Ronna, Jannine and Audrey! Enjoy the book.