Friday, August 21, 2009

I've been nudged out of my summer cooking stupor by a viewing of the movie Julie & Julia. I saw it with my friend Moniqua, and liked it quite a lot. Meryl Streep is always so much fun to watch, she would make a user 's manual interesting. I read the book by Julie Powell when it came out a few years ago, and I thought the concept behind the book was great- now there's an idea for a blog! One year to cook your way through Julia Child's iconic cookbook, in the process teaching yourself the rudiments of fine cooking, finding yourself through your bliss, and learning from other assorted mishaps and adventures that occur along the way. So good I'm sorta jealous. But the thing about the book, and I only read the book- not the original blog, is that I found Julie Powell a little irritating, I found the author's voice cloying. So, the parts of the movie I enjoyed most were the ones that had to do with Julia Child, as portrayed by the wonderful Meryl Streep. To begin with it was set in Paris, and this is the Paris of my fantasies. Vintage Paris with women in hats, shapely suits, and high platform heels. The quaint patisseries, open markets, salons de the with platters of pastel colored macarons and trays of perfect petit fours - men in berets, chefs in toques. It was kind of like Ratatouille come to life minus the gross rat. Julia Child was depicted as an inspirational woman, an indomitable force, and all-around great dame. A chick who wasn't afraid of boning a duck, a televised gaffe, or a pound or three of butter. Her tender relationship with her husband Paul (played by sexy Stanley Tucci) was also beautifully described in the movie. Julia's jubilant personality and love of life and of food made me leave the theater planning a beurre blanc and soon.
Tonight's dinner will be a L'Chaim to Julia Child who's been gone for a few years but whose spirit was great and lives on strong. I'll be serving pan fried fish accompanied by a beurre blanc, potatoes cubed and bathed in hot clarified butter until it becomes the most comfy shade of golden brown, and then some naked asparagus. For dessert: fresh, sweet strawberries with homemade vanilla whipped cream...... Bon Appetit!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Freedom Tastes Pretty Good

The house is still, save for the occasional cough coming from Puppy's room (summer cold). Hub is in Vegas, the two older ones are spending the weekend with their grandparents. The nights are my own. All mine to do as I please. How am I luxuriating in my freedom? Watching trashy TV and reading a delightfully quirky book called What We Eat When We Eat Alone by Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin. It has me thinking about how I am constantly in food prep mode when the kids and Hub are underfoot. Yet, when it's just me, you'll likely find me scarfing down a bag of barbecue chips or throwing down handfuls of chocolate chips and calling it dinner, as I check my email.
So, taking a cue from the nutritious read, this weekend I decided to treat myself to a couple of good meals. Which does not mean fancy or elaborate, rather, simple and satisfying with a just a smidgeon of indulgence. For dinner last night I thoroughly enjoyed a bowl of garlic sesame noodles washed down with a bottle of Coke (regular-not diet). The noodles were simple yet so wonderfully tasty. And the Coke was a godsend; cold, bubbly, sweet, and delicious relief from the salty spiciness of the noodles.
Tonight's dinner will be low-effort but I'll be ramping up the luxe factor with a plate of Port Salut cheese, a baguette, and a side salad of baby spinach, avocado, and tomato lightly dressed in the house Italian. A flute of champagne will be the dish's sparkling companion. I'm in wannabe-French heaven! The burning question: What's for dessert? A bowl of cocoa puffs or a bowl of Ben and Jerry's? Ahhh, life is good for this occasional bon vivant.

Garlic Sesame Noodles
Heat 1 tbsp. sesame oil in a wok or skillet, add 2-3 cloves minced garlic to oil and saute until garlic becomes fragrant. Add cooked chinese noodles, 2 tsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp garlic chili sauce,and 1 tsp sugar. Mix well until noodles are heated through and well coated.

*I'll make this dish for the Hungry Hordes and include veggies and tofu for a one-bowl meal.