Monday, May 24, 2010
Week 16: Julia's Kitchen Wisdom - Essential Techniques and Recipes from a Lifetime of Cooking by Julia Child
In this book, Julia boils down the most complicated meals into "master recipes" and shows how you can make something simple very elegant by adding a few touches. Once you grasp the master recipe, you're able to move forward in your cooking adventure.
I laughed a lot through this book, which is filled with little "Julia-isms" like, "weight down the lid with a five-pound something - a brick, if you prefer". I especially loved her version of the bread "sliding board", "I use a 3/8" plywood bought at the home improvement store". In this book, she shows you that there are very simple tools you can use to cook, bake, braise, and create a tart. Even if it means you have to run to Ace Hardware.
The last two chapters of the book were perhaps the most helpful - the first showed detailed illustrations of different types of pots and pans and cooking instruments - many of which had been cryptic to me all my life. The second to last was a glossary of much-used and not-much-understood cooking terms. For instance, the definition of "deglaze" is to pour liquid into a pan after a meat has finished cooking, so as to soak up the coagulated juices and to create artful sauces.
I got the distinct feeling that Julia was challenged to fit a lot into this little book - and that she really had to select the most valuable lessons from her enormous life experience.
One thing's certain: I'll never look at my food processor the same way. I may even allow it to take up semi-permanent residence on my countertop.