Saturday, August 8, 2009

Julia Child's Pommes de terre Byron

Otherwise known as a Baked Potato Pancake.

I loved when Julia pronounced the name of a recipe or ingredient in French. Her warbling voice was amusing in English and I can guarantee it was equally amusing in French. Oui?

Yesterday I mentioned that her show, The French Chef, was taped in advance. She insisted that it be presented exactly as taped, no editing out mistakes or flubs. She was the first to keep it real and an anomaly in television. She wasn't dead serious, she was joyful and it was obvious how much she loved food and cooking.

I have great respect for this woman who trained at the famous Le Cordon Bleu and persisted despite the fact that one of the directors disliked her. She was determined and sure that it was something she could learn. Later, pairing up with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle to produce a French Cookbook for Americans.

Julia and her husband Paul moved around Europe and finally settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts where she set up shop in her famous kitchen. On her death the house was donated to her alma mater, Smith College, and her kitchen was dismantled and sent to the Smithsonian! Now, there's something to add to my bucket list, visiting Julia's kitchen.

The story is that Smithsonian curators showed up and carefully crated her kitchen goods wearing those white curator gloves. Julia would have a laugh at that scene.

I love her kitchen with it's wall of pegboard to hold all her cooking utensils.

You've heard of the Six Degrees of Separation? I'm only one degree away from Julia. In 1991 she met up with world renowned pastry chef Alain Roby of the Hyatt Regency in Chicago. He lives about 12 miles from our home and along with his wife Esther, founded the annual Gingerbread House contest in Geneva, Illinois. My son and I took third place!


GINGERBREAD TUTORIAL - PART ONE (There are six parts, you can search the other 5)

I'm talking gingerbread and I've promised you a potato pancake. Here it is..... by the seat of your pants.


4 Baking Potatoes
softened butter
salt & pepper
heavy cream

Bake the potatoes. Remove from the oven and split, scoop out flesh and break up in bowl with a mixing fork. Fluff in salt, pepper and softened butter to taste and moisten slightly with heavy cream. Saute in a frying pan in hot butter until the bottom is crusty, then either flip over the brown the other side or turn onto a slightly buttered baking dish, sprinkle with grated Swiss cheese, cream and melted butter, then brown under a moderately hot broiler.

As you can see, this recipe is easily scaled up or down.

The story behind it is that Julia was preparing it in front of the cameras. When it came time to flip the pancake she missed and a big chunk fell on the stovetop.

"You can always pick it up" she chirped.

"You're alone in the kitchen, who's going to see?"

My kinda gal.

Bon appetit!

I hate to post without photos. It drives me nuts but I'm having difficulties with my photo editing program. Check back later, I'll try to add them.


Farmchick said...

I have been fortunate to visit Julia's kitchen at the Smithsonian a couple of years ago. I thought it was fabulous and incredibly functional. Not at all fussy or pretentious. Her show was the first cooking show I became interested in watching. What a personality! I can't wait to try this recipe.

Old Centennial Farmhouse said...

I used to watch Julia wayyyy back when she was on Good Morning America when it was Joan Lunden and Charlie Gibson...she was a keeper, that's for sure!
(Gotta go to that movie!)

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to go see the movie... maybe this coming week at a matinee. Let's all go, okay?

The Blue Ridge Gal

Leslie T. said...

I would love to visit Julia's kitchen. It would be lovely to just breathe in the essence of the Julia-ness. :) I think I would leave there doing the happy dance.
Today one of our PBS stations is running back-to-back episodes of Julia's cooking shows, and I've been glued to the TV set. It's making me soooooo hungry and so sad that Julia is no longer with us. But what a treat to have a large dose of her this weekend in celebration of the movie debut. A sparkling little treat on this fine August weekend!

dina said...

We didn't have a TV for a lot of years when I was growing up. Yep. We were that poor. But when we did finally get one I did eventually find Julia on OPB - our local public broadcasting station. I thought she was hilarious. And that was back in the day when I had no idea that cooking could be fun or inspiring. Know what really got me hooked on her? Saturday Night Live! Seriously! I saw the spoof on her there and I just rolled on the floor laughing. When I heard that she thought it was hilarious, I knew I liked her - a lot! And then I really sat up and started paying attention to her.

I can't wait to see the new movie. Just gotta scrape together enough pennies! :)

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