Thursday, August 30, 2012

Julia Child’s Coulis de Tomates A La Provencale (Tomato Sauce with Mediterranean Flavors)

As a follow-up to my last post about Julia Child’s Blackberry Clafoutis dessert, here’s another of her recipes I tried with great success: her Coulis de Tomates A La Provencale (Tomato Sauce with Mediterranean Flavors). Both recipes were included in a New York Times article to commemorate what would have been Julia’s 100th birthday. It turned out astoundingly flavorful, transforming the tomatoes, herbs, onion and garlic into a rich red sauce, a fantastic combination of flavors that showed off the best of the vegetables.

Some adaptations and notes:

- The recipe creates enough sauce for 2 lbs. of pasta. We used fettucine.

- Instead of using cheesecloth for an herb bouquet, I used string to tie the parsley and thyme sprigs together. When the sauce was almost done, I simply removed the bundle, along with the bay leaf and orange peel, before serving.

- We added grated Parmesan on top right before eating, and would definitely do it again.

- I skipped the saffron threads.

- I used vine-ripened tomatoes. Home grown would be even better.

- It took two rounds in the Cuisinart food processor to make the tomato pulp. I placed the quartered tomatoes directly into the processor bowl instead of through the tube. I didn’t worry about removing the tomato skins or seeds.

- While most of the time on the stove top the sauce didn’t look like it was going to become rich, thick and red, near the end it all melded together, transforming into a vibrant and bright concoction.

The sauce takes 1 hour and 30 minutes to make, a worthy investment of time to create a meal that’s sure to be a big hit. Bon appetit!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Julia Child’s Blackberry Clafoutis

When the New York Times published some recipes from Julia Child’s cookbooks, I decided to try the appealing Blackberry Clafoutis. I enjoyed reading all the 100th birthday tributes to Julia in the news, remembering all she contributed to American cooking. The beautiful blackberry dessert with its in-season fruit and French sensibility made my mouth water.

As the article describes, another great thing about this recipe is its simplicity. Just whip up the batter in the blender, pour it over fresh fruit in a baking dish, and bake. It looks so elegant and colorful, and tastes sweet and comforting. It’s almost like a fruity dessert pancake and could make a great breakfast or brunch item.

The clafoutis puffs up a bit while baking, mine almost erupting like a volcano, but settles down while it cools. We served it with whipped cream instead of powdered sugar, which made a nice creamy, velvety contrast to complement the dessert. It would work just as well with blueberries, raspberries, and perhaps stone fruit like peaches. It’s so easy and good that I’m sure I’ll try it again with different fruits as they come in season. Give it a try for dessert or a weekend breakfast. Bon appetit!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Discover Homemade Yogurt

My go-to breakfast is Peet’s French Roast Coffee and Greek yogurt, usually Fage with fruit or honey. I find this gives me the nutritious energy I need to get through the next few hours, preventing me from becoming famished between meals.

We recently got a Euro Cuisine Yogurt Maker to make fresh homemade yogurt and it’s been fun to make and enjoy. The process requires boiling milk, adding in yogurt starter (either freeze dried or using previously made yogurt), pouring into glass jars, and letting sit at the correct temperature in the yogurt maker for the required amount of time (8 hours for whole milk, 10 hours for 2% milk, and 12 hours for skim milk). This means you should plan ahead, because when time is up, the yogurt needs to be transferred to the fridge for at least three hours. My husband found this out the hard way his first time, having to wake up at 2 a.m. to make the transfer!

The result? Firm, tart, creamy, fresh yogurt that differs from store-bought yogurts in taste and texture. The yogurt’s silkiness feels fundamentally distinct, with its natural flavor and unique texture coaxed from the milk, one of the products that magically transforms from its original liquid source. Eating it feels elemental, something from the original food substance we discover after birth, and the basis of our innate love of milk-based foods like butter, ice cream, and cheese.

You can customize your yogurt with add-ins of your choice: I like great jams like Bonne Maman Wild Blueberry, or honey, berries, nuts and granola. You could also add brown sugar and cinnamon, vanilla extract, or even coffee.

The yogurt maker, yogurt starter, and extra jars are available on Amazon, making it easy to get all the equipment you need to get started. If you’re a big yogurt fan like I am, check it out. The effort put into creating this creamy goodness makes for a satisfying breakfast or snack that doesn’t disappoint.