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Favorite Tips From "The French Chef"

Cooking shows have been a regular part of my television viewing since long before Emeril, Top Chef and the Food Network became household words. Graham Kerr, Jeff Smith, Justin Wilson, Martin Yan and Marian Morash all found their way into my living room, but in my opinion, Julia Child still reigns supreme in the world of celebrity chefs.

Favorite Tips From

The photo above was taken from "Julia's Kitchen Wisdom" ~ captioned "Goose ready to take off"

Julia Child's wealth of cooking knowledge and talent for sharing it with home cooks through television and books is nothing short of iconic. She made her television debut in 1963 on WGBH in Boston, yet decades later her books are still my first choice when I feel the need to "consult."

My favorite is The Way To Cook, but I also love the little book she wrote in 2000 called Julia's Kitchen Wisdom. It's compiled from the "trials, remedies, and errors" Julia experienced throughout her career in the kitchen. I thought I'd share some of my favorite and most used tips from that publication here.

  • From "Julia's Kitchen Wisdom"
  • 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 in 2009, but please share any tips and inspiration you've learned from "The French Chef."

comments & replies

32 comments ~

I learned how to make Swedish crackers! I was sucked into the TV! :)

I SO want a copy of this book! Thanks for putting it out there!

I was very young watching those on PBS. My mother was a dreadful cook and watching Julia gave me hope that there really was good food out there. That, and I could watch her omelet episode a billion times!

Learned that preparing food could be fun and not to become uptight about making meals.
Looking forward to the movie.
Grandma Joan

I learned that the ideal temperature for raising (rising?) bread dough is room temperature. (Why do so many recipes call for a higher temp?)

Julia was the original 'just do it' lady. From my perspective she encouraged our mothers (and by osmosis us) to step into the kitchen and cook -- without being intimidated by the ingredients or the number of steps. And to just roll with what happens in the kitchen.

My mother-in-law found the first print of Mastering the Art of French Cooking that Julia Child co-wrote at a thrift store & bought it for me. I used to be a horrific cook and that book helps "break down" the building of recipes so that they don't seem so overhwelming.

I feel like I'm the only one looking forward to Julie & Julia in my family. I'm hoping to convince my husband to take me to see it. :-)

I'd love to win a copy of this book!

she has come a long way, i would give anything to get a copy of her cook book

She taught me that reading cookbooks (and cooking) could be fun!

I loved the way Julia made a recipe come alive. She taught me that recipe books are great forms of reading. I have collected more than I will ever use by now.

What stands out to me is that mistakes happen. It's ok. Just try again. And butter is the bomb diggety in cooking and baking.

I think what I really loved about her was her take no prisoners attitude! SHe really wanted us all to learn to enjoy food and cooking. Her no nonsense style was so refreshing! A legend for sure.

Julia, like my wonderful Norwegian grandmother, taught me the true value that BUTTER can play in my life. Never any of that margerine in our home.

I loved her braveness with cooking. She encouraged all of us not to be afraid. I did not realize you could create creme fraiche with sour cream and heavy cream. I don't own any of her books but I guess being a serious (but happy) cook I should! Can't wait to see this movie.

I learned just to go for it! Try something with abandon and enjoy every second of it! And if it isn't that great, just have some more wine!

I have learned to laugh at my mistakes, not cry. There is always another meal to prepare tomorrow and a chance at success.

I learned that you can make something as simple as a roasted chicken taste delicious if you cook it properly. Julia was the true Master and the original Iron Chef, in my opinion! My sister was fortunate enough to meet her in person. Wish I had!
Thanks for the giveaway - I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'm one of the lucky winners!

The most important thing I learned from Julia is that when it comes to flavor simplicity rules. I also love the show where she drops something on the floor and advises to just throw it back in the pot because no one will know (LOL)

I would love to add this book to my collection. Thanks.

I learned that cold eggs are easier to separate, but that egg whites need to be warmed to room temperature to whip up quickly.

Julia Child taught me that that you don't have to be a perfectionist in the kitchen....and she was definitely an example of that! She was so fun to watch! Julia Child led the way for all of the Food Network Stars so they could be what they have become, and we are all better cooks for being able to see them!

My copy of Julia's cookbook is dog-eared and grubby, but I still turn to her recipes for quiche and crepes. Actually, you could just open the book at random and make something and you know it will be good.
My very favorite cake is her Reine de Saba (Queen of Sheba) from the name alone you know it will be decadent.
I love the way she starts from the beginning and takes you right through to the end, no mysteries involved.

Can't wait to see the movie and would love to win the cookbook! Julia Child was so down-to-earth, and she could be so funny at times...yet she knew gastronomy (the art or science of good eating)...that was a part of her wisdom.

I've learned that I "can do" and don't need to be intimidated by ingredients.

I learned that it's not too hard or scary to debone a chicken. And, you may even enjoy it!

I remember watching Julia on TV when I was a child. My sister and I would pretend to have a cooking show -- I loved the way she talked!

I learned to embrace my creative side and be fearless when trying out new recipes.

You can learn to cook.

I was a little too young to watch the show, but I've been inspired by Julia's can-do attitude. Can't wait to see the movie Julie & Julia - I read the book and it was fantastic.

I just saw the movie last night and now I am inspired to cook anything Julia.

I bought a chef's apron on Ebay signed by Julia Child, Marian Morash, Martin Yen, Jeff Smith and Graham Kerr. There are 3 other signatures on this apron signed in the sixties. Do you have any idea who they might be since I cannot read the other 3. Thank You.

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