Monthly Archives: January 2010

It’s Fun to Stay at the YMCA, Julia

This weekend my friend B and I decided to take a page from Julia Child’s book. Several pages, actually. She bought me Mastering the Art of French Cooking for Christmas last year (10 days ago. . . weird) and I decided that I was going to try and expand my cooking repertoire, which pretty much consists solely of easy American dishes and a few Italian American dishes. And pie. We decided on a menu, pretty much centered around sauces (yeah, oops), and bought ingredients. I felt emboldened as I had already made a bechemel sauce with cheese for macaroni a week or two previous which had turned out simply HEAVENLY. And it was so easy! (Also, let me say now that I am going to butcher the spelling of several French words in this blog and I am far too lazy to go to the cook book and look up the correct spelling. Those who judge can kiss my aspartame). I remember that after seeing Julie and Julia a few months ago, that I had been in a bookstore a few days later and picked up Julia Child’s book, just to see what it was like. I opened to something totally insane like how to pluck and tie up your own chicken and I put it down, frightened and intimidated. Then I kicked myself for doing something so consumer-liciously obvious–God, think of all those other people who had gone to the bookstore to be like Amy Adams. Stupid me. . . but I was really glad when I got it as a gift (hehe). After the successful bechemel, however, my fears of being too stupid for the book vanished, my confidence in my ability to turn words on a page into a culinary masterpiece at full strength. B happens to be a very good cook and has a good instinct for it, so I knew I had a good wingwoman for anything more complicated.

First of all, it was absolutely, positively a BLAST. We bought a bottle of wine and drank most of it while cooking, speaking loudly and obnoxiously with an atrocious Julia Child accent (or, at least in my case, since I’ve never actually heard Julia Child speak, Meryl Streep’s Julia Child accent) that goes to prove that my boyfriend is the most patient and tolerant man that a woman could ask for. Referring to each other as “Julia” for entire evening, we stumbled through three sauces–a bernaise sauce, a white wine and tarragon sauce whose French name I don’t remember, but something like “escargon” or something, and a hollandaise–and gnocchi. We decided to put the bernaise on the gnocchi, pan fry some chicken for the white wine sauce and put the hollandaise on steamed asparagus. We also bought a delicious loaf of par-baked bread to dip in the sauces.

Since this isn’t that Julia Child-wannabe Julie girl’s blog, I’m not going to go into the serious details, but basically, Julia Child is a genius. When she said that the potatoes were going to leave a film at the bottom of the pan when they were done (yeah, B and I had no idea what the hell that meant either), they did! When she said not to use the milky substance at the bottom of the melted butter (???), there it was! And we didn’t use it! When she said that the gnocchi shouldn’t be boiled or else it would disintegrate, boy did it disintegrate in the most beautifully French way possible. Fortunately we had doubled the recipe and had leftover so that we could make the most delicious mashed potato balls EVER. Also, B and I have a really horrible track record for making gnocchi–the first time, while, again, hilarious and fun, was. . . well. . . it’s always edible, but it’s not gnocchi. I guess this time was better, but, man. . . it really doesn’t seem as easy as it sounds. The moral of the gnocchi story is that when Julia says to make the gnocchi 3 inches by 1 inch in diameter, YOU JUST FUCKING DO IT. Don’t second guess this woman–I don’t care how inane or ridiculous or whatever it seems, just do it! She even says at the beginning of the book, very frankly, “Look. I studied at the Cordon mother fucking Bleu. I’m not making this shit up. So just follow what I say and you’ll be good.” And it’s true. More than with any other recipe that I have followed, she has your back, our little Julia.

Anyway. Aside from the gnocchi debacle (at which point we were tipsy enough not to care and used packaged tortellini to supplement our resounding failure), the sauces were DELECTABLE. I mean, really, just absolutely gorgeous and delicious. Now, I’ve never had hollandaise, bernaise, or white wine whatever sauce before, so frankly, I could not know what I’m talking about, but they were good, so even if they were a bastardization of what the French masters wanted, they all turned out great!

Ahh. But here is the sauce moral of the story. NEVER make three rich French sauces for one meal. I seriously had a butter hangover this morning. We used FOUR STICKS OF BUTTER and A DOZEN EGGS in these three sauces. No fricken joke. Thank God there were five people eating the dinner or else we would each have literally eaten a stick of butter. My heart feels like it’s going to explode. I can feel a little butter ball choking my arteries as I’m typing this. Delicious, but so conceptually gross. One of those sauces would have been PLENTY. Even the three boys who devoured our meal, who seemed to love every bite, were a little staggered. Oh yeah, did I mention that we didn’t end up eating until midnight? Did I also mention that we started at 7pm? Frankly, if I were to make any of these sauces again, it would probably take about a half hour for each of them (except the hollandaise, which we did in a blender, sanctioned by Julia, and took 6 minutes, seriously). I think the gnocchi is what made this insane.

Also, shout out to M Fox for helping with the dishes :)

I woke up this morning, literally rolled out of bed so I could beach myself on the couch, and found a gym. The YMCA (TITULAR LINE!!!) is having this great promotion where January is free. And, for GOD’S SAKES, I’m going. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even feel good anymore and the French sauces just kicked it into the abyss. Bleck.  The boyfriend and I went and worked out for about an hour and boy did it feel good.

Also, I couldn’t find my discman (no, I don’t have one of those new-fangled mp3 contraptions, sue me), but I DID find my WALKMAN. Take THAT 2010. I had just recently uncovered all these mix tapes that I made in high school and went to town. I forgot about DENI!! Holy shit!! Waaaay back in the day, my high school friends and I went into what was once a pub and brewery (we didn’t sit at the bar, obviously) and now is a Mike’s Subs (lame), there was this guy whose name was Deni performing. Stupid name, maybe, but for some reason I LOVED his music. Apparently he sampled a lot of The Matrix movie into his stuff, but since I hadn’t seen it (and didn’t care. . . saw it later and still don’t care, actually) I didn’t see it as the kinda nerdy DJ guy that he was. I remember feeling so trendy that I had discovered this cool new artist at a PUB, no less. Anyway, when I heard one of his songs on the mix tape, my chubby German thighs kicked into high gear on that elliptical. It didn’t know WHAT was coming.

The conclusion. I think that this may become a delicious tradition. Lots of wine, French food, and a guilt-induced work out the next day.