Stuck in a dead-end job, Julie Powell embarked on a unique culinary quest: cooking all 524 recipes from Julia Child's landmark cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."
And she decided to do it all in one calendar year.
The results were bigger than she could ever have imagined: a daily blog, the best-seller, "Julie & Julia," and now, the hit movie of the same name.
The woman who inspired "Julie and Julia" visited "The Early Show Saturday Edition" on what would have been Child's 97th birthday and took on a culinary quest of quite a different kind: our "Chef on a Shoestring" challenge.
Julie prepared a three-course meal from Julia's cookbook but, in honor of Julia's birthday, we added $10 to our usual budget for shoestring chefs and gave her $45 in all -- still not a lot -- to work with.
She also talked with co-anchor Erica Hill and with CBS News about what that year was like, what inspired her, and what it's like to have her life chronicled in a big Hollywood movie.
"It's beyond surreal, of course," seeing her life on the big screen, Julie says. "I've had a couple of years to prepare myself, you know, and I thought I was ready, but there's no question, the first time I saw Amy Adams calling herself 'Julie Powell' on the big screen, it knocked me for a loop. Of course, by now I've seen it seven times, so I'm getting used to it."
Why did she decide to cook every recipe in Julia Child's cookbook?
"I was turning 30," Julie explains, "which at the time felt like the end of the world. I was in a dead-end job. My life was going nowhere. Cooking had always been a comfort, and Julia Child's book had been a part of my life since I was a kid. I'd been a frustrated writer for many years, and ... it all just came together, all at once."
Julie told Hill she never imagined her project would lead to what it has. "I started the blog back in 2002," she said on the show, "and I didn't really know what a blog was. I had no idea. And it was just part of the project I wanted to do to sort of save my life by cooking. And the blogging was part of it. And I had no idea it was gonna to resonate with people the way it did."
In the book, Julie tells of writing to Child about her project and getting a decidedly cool response. That's also portrayed in the movie. And Julie admitted to Hill, "Of course, it was devastating to hear. You come off a year doing what I had done, I saw primarily as a tribute to this amazing, extraordinary woman who changed the world. She really did. So to find that she didn't see it in that light was distressing. But one of the great things that Julia taught me was that the person you have to be true to is yourself. And I know why I did what I did and how much she meant to me. And if she didn't see that, I'm sorry, but it is OK. It is OK."
"Her disinterest didn't change how I felt about her," Julie says. "I don't love Julia Child because she loves me; I love her because she inspired me to change my life. ... I know how I feel about Julia, and that's what matters."
Making all those recipes in a year "was a challenge," Julie told Hill, saying she "ate at midnight a lot. That's the sort of the way it was." She would get up at 6 in the morning and scamper around town, looking for ingredients for that day's recipe, holding down her a=day job all the while. "It was physically exhausting and it took a lot of time," Julie recalled for Hill, "but, existentially, I was feeling so much better about myself, you know."
Would do it all again?
"No!" Julie exclaimed to Hill. "I'm on to the next now!"
And, of all of the 524 recipes in the cook, the one for Braised Cucumbers was her favorite, Juie says, adding, "I'm so glad they made it into the movie, because I think they're a revelation!"
To get the recipes for the dishes Powell made on the show, go to Page 2.
Fricassée de Poulet au Paprika
Roquefort is made exclusively from the milk of the red Lacaune ewes that graze on the huge plateau of Rouergue, Causses in the Aveyron. A genuine Roquefort has a red sheep on the label. The taste is complex, creamy and soft.
Fricassée refers to a dish made from sauteed and stewed meat which is served in a dense white sauce which resembles gravy. The base of fricassee is, of course, the meat. Chicken is a traditional meat for fricasseeing, although other poultry and white meats may be used as well. Typically, the meat is cooked on the bone, which will allow it to develop a particularly rich and intense flavor. The meat is first lightly browned in a sauté pan before being stewed in broth for around an hour so that it cooks all the way through, becoming very tender and falling off the bone.
These nice little mouthfuls are made of pastry dough rolled out and cut into squares, oval, or circles. In the center a small lump of filling is placed. The edges of the pastry are moistened with beaten egg, then either another piece of pastry is placed on top, or the original pastry is folded over upon itself to enclose the filling. They are then baked in a hot oven until they puff and brown. In making them, avoid putting in so much filling that the pastry cannot be sealed, and be sure to seal carefully so the turnovers do not burst while baking. A ravioli stamp - a heavy metal ring about 2 inches diameter with serrated teeth - will seal 2 round of pastry most efficiently together.
Turnovers may enclose a variety of stuffings other than Roquefort, such as cream fillings, or any liver, sausage, ground beef, or veal mixtures. You can also use little pork sausages or store bought sausage meat. Turnovers may be made in any size or shape, from about 2 ½ inches for appetizers to 12 inches for an entrée.
For about 40 pieces
1/2 pound Roquefort of Blue Cheese
1/4 pound (1 stick) softened butter
2 egg yolks
1 to 2 tablespoons kirsch or cognac
1-1/4¼ teaspoons pepper
2 tablespoons minced chives or minced green onion tops
2 to 6 tablespoons whipping cream
Chilled pastry dough
1 egg beaten in a bowl with 1/2 teaspoon water
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Mash the cheese in the bowl with a mixing fork. Beat in the butter, then the egg yolks, kirsch or cognac, pepper, and chives or onion tops.
Beat in the cream by tablespoons but do not let the mixture thin out too much. It should remain a fairly thick paste. Correct seasoning.
Roll out the dough into a rectangle 1/8 inch thick. With a ravioli wheel or a knife, cut the dough into 2 ½-inch squares.
Place 1 teaspoon of filling in the center of each square. One by one, paint a ¼-inch border of beaten egg around the edges of the pastry. Fold the pastry over on itself into a triangle. Press the edges together firmly with your fingers. Press them again making a design with the tines of a fork. Place on a buttered baking sheet and continue with the rest of the turnovers. Paint the tops with beaten egg. Make a shallow crosshatch lines with the point of a knife, and poke a 1/8-inch hole through the center of each pastry top so cooking steam can escape.
Bake in upper third of preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until puffed and lightly browned.
Turnovers may be baked, then reheated. Baked turnovers may also be frozen, then set in a 425°F for 5 minutes or so to thaw and heat through.
Fricassée de Poulet au Paprika
One frequently runs into chicken recipes labeled sautés which are actually fricassees, and others labeled fricassees which are actually stews. The fricassee is halfway between the two. No liquid is included in the cooking of a sauté. For a stew, the chicken is simmered in liquid from the start of its cooking. When chicken is fricasseed, the meat is always cooked first in butter - or butter and oil - until its flesh has swelled and stiffened, then the liquid is added. There is a subtle but definite difference in taste between the three methods. Fricassees can be white, like the following recipe, or brown, like the coq au vin. It is an ideal technique for ahead-of-time dishes, as the chicken loses none of its essential qualities if it is allowed to cool in is sauce and is then reheated.
Type of Chicken to Use: The following recipe is based on frying chicken. Younger chickens, such as broilers, should never be used; their flesh is so soft and tender that it dries out and becomes stringy. Older chickens need longer cooking than the 25 to 30 minutes of simmering required for a fryer.
For this traditional Sunday dinner dish, which is not difficult to execute, the chicken pieces are turned in hot butter, sprinkled with flour and seasonings, then simmered in wine and white stock. The sauce is a reduction of the cooking liquid, enriched with cream and egg yolks. Braised onions and mushrooms accompany the chicken. Include also steamed rice, risotto, or buttered noodles. If you want other vegetables, buttered peas or asparagus tips may serve as a garnish.
STEP 1: Preliminary cooking in butter
2-1/2 - 3 pounds of cut-up frying chicken
1 thinly sliced onion, carrot and celery stalk
4 tablespoons butter
Dry the chicken thoroughly in a towel Cook the vegetables slowly in the butter for about 5 minutes, or until they are almost tender but not browned. Push them to one side. Raise the heat slightly and add the chicken. Turn it every minute for 3 or 4 minutes until the meat has stiffened slightly, without coloring to more than a light golden yellow.
STEP 2: Paprika Sauce
1-1/2 tablespoon fresh-smelling and fragrant paprika
After the chicken has had its preliminary turning of 5 minutes in the butter, blend in the paprika. Cover and lower heat, cook very slowly for 10 minutes, turning the chicken once. It should swell slightly, stiffen more, but not deepen in color. After completing the sauce, stir in more paprika if the sauce needs color. It should be a creamy pink.
STEP 3: Adding the flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
3 tablespoons flour
Sprinkle salt, pepper, and flour on all sides of the chicken, turning and rolling each piece to coat the flour with the cooking butter. Cover and continue cooking slowly for 4 minutes, turning once.
STEP 4: Simmering in stock and wine
3 cups boiling white chicken stock, white stock, or canned chicken bouillon
1 cup dry white wine or 2/3 cup dry white vermouth
A small herb bouquet: 2 parsley sprigs, 1/3 bay leaf, and 1/8 teaspoon thyme tied in a washed cheesecloth.
Remove from heat and pour in the boiling liquid, shaking casserole to blend the liquid and flour. Add the wine, the herb bouquet, and more stock, or water, so the liquid just covers the chicken. Place back on the heat and bring to a simmer. Taste for seasoning, and salt lightly if necessary. Cover and maintain at a slow simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. The chicken is done when the drumsticks are tender if pinched and the chicken juices run clear yellow when the meat is pricked with a fork. When done, remove the chicken to a side dish.
STEP 5: Onion & Mushroom Garniture
16 to 20 glazed onions
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms stewed in butter, lemon juice and water
METHOD: While the chicken is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Add their cooking juices to the chicken cooking sauce in the next step.
STEP 6: The Sauce
2 egg yolks
½ cup whipping cream
Salt and white pepper
Drops of lemon juice
Pinch of nutmeg
Simmer the cooking liquid in the casserole for 2 to 3 minutes, skimming off the fat. Then raise hat and boil rapidly, stirring frequently, until the sauce reduces and thickens enough to coat a spoon nicely. Correct seasoning. You should have 2- 2 ½ cups.
Blend the egg yolks and cream in a large mixing bowl with a wire whip. Continue beating, and add the hot sauce from the casserole by small tablespoonfuls until about a cupful has gone in. Beat in the rest of the sauce in a thin stream.
Pour the sauce back into the casserole, or into an enameled or stainless steel saucepan (do not use aluminum.) Set over moderately high heat and, stirring constantly, reach all over the bottom and sides of the casserole, until the sauce comes to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring.
Correct seasoning, adding drops of lemon juice to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve.
STEP 7: Final Assembly
Arrange the chicken, and the onion and mushroom garniture, in the casserole. Pour the sauce over it. To prevent the skin from forming over the sauce, spoon over it a film of cream, stock, or milk. Set it aside uncovered. Just before serving, tilt casserole, add 1-2 tablespoons softened butter, and baste the chicken with the sauce until the butter has absorbed into it.
Serve the chicken from the casserole; or arrange it with the onions and mushrooms on a hot platter, surrounded with rice or noodles, and covered with the sauce. Decorate with sprigs of fresh parsley.
Among all the recipes for chocolate mousse this is one of the best, we think; it uses egg yolks, sugar, and butter, and instead of cream, beaten egg whites. The orange flavoring suggested here is delicious with chocolate.
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup super fine granulated sugar
1/4 cup orange liqueur
6 ounces semi sweet baking chocolate
4 tablespoons strong coffee
6 ounces (1 ½ sticks) softened, unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely diced, glazed orange peel
4 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 cups crème anglaise or lightly whipped cream sweetened with powdered sugar
Beat the egg yolks and sugar together until mixture is thick, pale yellow, and falls back upon itself forming a slowly dissolving ribbon. Beat in the orange liqueur. Then set mixing bowl over a pan of now-quite-simmering water and continue beating for 3 to 4 minutes until the mixture is foamy and too hot for your finger. Then beat over cold water or 3 to 4 minutes until the mixture is cool and again forms the ribbon. It will have the consistency of mayonnaise.
Melt chocolate with coffee over hot water. Remove from heat and beat in the butter a bit at a time, to make a smooth cream. Beat the chocolate into the egg yolks and sugar, then beat in the orange peel.
Beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed. Stir one fourth of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the rest.
Turn into serving dish or dessert cups. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Pass the sauce or whipped cream separately.
Whipping cream $1.19
Pastry dough $1.59
Chicken stock $1.39
White wine $3.99
Orange liqueur $2.00
Baking chocolate $1.79
Whipping cream $1.19
Grand total: $43.80