October 04, 2009

Adventures in French Cooking

When I saw the movie "Julie and Julia" I did not think it would lead to something like this. I mean, I don't care to be trendy; I didn't want to be one of the millions of women (and three men) who bought all the books, including the expensive cookbook. I even said after the movie that it wasn't quite enough to make me start cooking a la francé. But here I am. And I'm loving it. Our Sunday dinner consisted of:

Poulet roti
Carottes a la concierge
Champignons a la Grecque
Bavarois a L'Orange

For the French impaired that it roast chicken, casserole of creamed carrots with onion and garlic, and mushrooms a la Grecque(?) followed by orange Bavarian cream.

I prepared for my 1.5 hour estimated cooking excursion by: making a potty trip, washing hands, changing into clothes that may be splattered on, pulling hair out of face, eating a small snack, prereading the directions for all recipes, and removing all jewelry that might get lost in the body cavity while molesting my chicken(So sorry chicky. Julia made me do it). All of this added an extra 1/2 hour to my excursion time but I planned for it so it was okay. We would be eating by 5pm.

Starting with the recipe needing the longest effort, I cleaned, salted and buttered my bird and placed it in the oven. According to direction I have to turn it on each side, then it's back, not to mention basting it every 10 minutes. EVERY 10 MINUTES?! FOR 1.5 HOURS?! Okay, I can handle that.
Doesn't he look all roasty-toasty in there?

Anyway, the bird was easy if high maintenance. On to the next recipe, creamed carrot casserole. This one takes about an hour. AN HOUR?! Okay, deal Petunia. It takes a lot of carrots; 4 1/2 cups of sliced carrots. At this point I whip out my nifty food processor. (Oh food processor, how I do love thee.) Carrots and onions chopped in a mere 2 minutes. So carrots and onions and cream and beef stock are cooking on the stove. In the spare minutes between basting I clean dishes and reread the next recipe. Thank Heavens the mushrooms only take 10 minutes. We'll save those for last, after the chicken is out of the oven.

So the carrots are done and staying warm on the stove, the chicken now comes out of the oven and it's time to start the mushrooms. Wait. I'm referred to a second recipe that takes an additional 10 minutes. That's okay. So I make the Grecque sauce(whatever that is) and then I add the mushrooms. Mushrooms done. Wait. Now I have to boil down the remaining Grecque sauce(what does Grecque mean anyway?). Another 10-15 minutes. Wait. The chicken juices need to be boiled down to make a sort of gravy. Okay. Another 10-15 minutes. It's a good thing I ate that snack earlier.

Finally the food is ready to serve. An hour later than planned but that's okay. Add a salad and a glass of Cab and we're ready to dig in.

Well the chicken just tastes like roast chicken. It still needs salt. And the mushrooms taste like boiled mushrooms. More salt. But the carrots. Heavenly! Seriously, the best of all the recipes I've tried so far. I could eat them for a meal all by themselves.

Now for dessert. I made this on Saturday so it would be completely set. It took about an hour and lots and lots of cream. When turned onto the plate it flopped a little cattywampus but it was still a thing of beauty. And it separated a bite but that added to it's charm. It was kind of like a mousse on the bottom and a custard on the top. The family all adored it. My ego expanded.
Another successful French meal. So far I have not found a recipe that takes less than 30 minutes but that's fine with me. It's the process that I enjoy. It's the learning experience and the experimenting that make me happy. We'll see if that changes when it comes time to make calf brains.

Remember folks: food is not just sustenance. It can be a joy too.


bermudaonion said...

My husband would be in heaven if I tried this!

Charley said...

That's a good looking meal! And cattywampus - not a word I've ever used, but I like it.

Ti said...

It all looks delicious! Especially the carrots and I don't care for carrots all that much but cream and beef stock? What's not to like?

Petunia said...

BermudaOnion-I'm not sure if my family is excited but they are encouraging and try everything so I can't complain.

Charley-Apparently Blogger's spell check doesn't use it either. :)

Ti-When you cook carrots they release sugar so these ones were very sweet. Plus a touch of nutmeg. It would make a great holiday sidedish.

trish said...

Love this post! I bought Julia Childs' cookbook so I could try some recipes. I love love love French food, so I've got my fingers crossed the actual cooking won't kill me!

trish said...

Becky, I'm working on putting some tours together and thought you might be interested. Send me an email if you'd like more info! :)

Zibilee said...

I love living vicariously through you and getting all the information on which recipes are good. The Orange Bavarian Creme looks awesome, and I love, love, love the carrot recipe. I am thinking that I need to get this book sooner rather than later. Awesome post!

Lynn said...

Well now I want to try the carrots. I made one of Julia's dessert recipes, a pear concoction, a couple weeks ago when my mom had a Julia dinner party. It was tasty but took sooooo much time and so many steps! I think she must have gotten simpler over the years, because those first couple of cookbooks, which I've owned forever but rarely use, are super time-consuming. Thanks for sharing your experiences. :)