our finished coq au vin
julia child inspired me to cook; julie powell inspired me to blog; and meryl streep just makes me want to watch movies. so i don’t think it surprises anyone that i was pretty friggin’ excited for last weekend’s opening of “julie and julia.” since this was no ordinary movie to me, i couldn’t make it just any ordinary movie outing. it had to be an event that celebrated the real star of the movie, julia child’s gift to the culinary world, her book “mastering the art of french cooking.” my own 684 page voluminous copy sits on a shelf in my living room as a testament to my love of jc (not to be confused with the jc of “what would jesus do?”). i couldn’t think of a better way to honor her than cooking a few of the french recipes she shared with us in her first publication.
thickening the coq au vin with a beurre manie
this past sunday, six of my favorite female foodies joined me in my kitchen to remake julia’s ratatouille, coq au vin and crepes fines sucrees (filled with strawberries and nutella) to get us in the mood for our afternoon matinee. with three dutch ovens on the stove, you knew we weren’t messing around (and yes, i own three – ergh, actually 4 – dutch ovens). under her trusted direction, we fearlessly poured cognac over the chicken for our coq au vin and lit it on fire (though she does warn us to avert our faces). with great conviction, we shook the casserole back and forth until the flames subsided, just like she told us. the sauce of our coq au vin came out silky and rich enough to get drunk off of. the chicken cooked to perfect tenderness filled with flavors of the wine it basted in. our ratatouille reminded us how decadent vegetables can be, and our crepes brought us to back to the crepes stands in paris. snacking on cheese, pate and bread, we diced, chopped and seared, all the while channeling the voice of julia, just as julie powell did for a year while she cooked all 524 recipes from the original jc bible.
if you haven’t heard of julie powell, she is a secretary turned blogger turned published author turned subject of a movie. powell’s unexpected rise to fame started when she took on a unique personal mission – to cook every recipe from “mastering the art of french cooking” in 365 days and blog about it. eventually the blog was turned into the book, “julie and julia,” which is now a movie playing under the same name at your local movie theatre starring the glorious meryl streep as jc. competing with julia’s romantic and inspiring life journey and paris in the 1950’s is no small challenge, but i’d consider powell a bit of a modern day hero. to twenty-and-thirty-something’s still wandering aimlessly in life, her story reminds us that fame is just 524 recipes and 365 blog entries away. ok, maybe that’s not the real lesson, but her story does provide all of us that want more than our office day jobs some hope, right? maybe all it takes is that one recipe (or 524) to help us find our way in life. in the meantime, i'm happy to just find my way in the kitchen.
thank you julia child for helping all of us to find our way in the kitchen; thank you julie powell for doing what you love; and thank you meryl streep for bringing julia child back to life for us.
some lovely french tunes that i imagine jc would love to cook to, as well as a playlist for your julie / julia party:
for more photos of our "mastering the art of french cooking" celebration: