Happy Birthday, Julia Child! Celebrate the Chef With One of Her 6 Classics
Friday, August 15 marks Julia Child’s birthday. She would have turned 102. The iconic chef, author, and television personality has shaped the way people all over the world cook and bake today, and that’s why it’s especially important to celebrate her late summer birthday. From beef to soup to soufflés and everything in between, Julia Child truly perfected the art of French cooking, and now in honor of her birthday, you should, too. Check out these 6 iconic recipes that celebrate the great American chef, and toast to her Friday as you eat. We may no longer be able to hear her distinct voice and shrilly giggle, but at least we can taste her food.
1. Beef Bourguignon
We start out with a Julia Child classic: Beef Bourguignon, highlighted by Tablespoon.com. If you’ve seen the popular film Julie & Julia, you already know this dish isn’t simple, but it is decadent, and when perfected, it certainly impresses. As long as you leave enough time for prep and cook time, there’s no reason you can’t put your own Beef Bourguignon on the table with Julia Child’s directions. This is a dinner that you can be proud of, and one that Julia Child would be proud of you for making.
- 1 6 ounce piece chunk bacon
- 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 pounds lean stew beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 onion, sliced
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups red wine, young and full bodied
- 3 cups beef stock
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 cloves mashed garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1 bay leaf, crumbled
- 20 small white onions
- 3 1/2 tablespoons butter
- Herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)
- 1 pound fresh mushrooms, quartered
Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove bacon rind and cut into lardons (sticks 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long.) Simmer rind and lardons for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts water. Drain and dry. Sauté lardons in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to side dish with a slotted spoon. Heat fat in casserole until almost smoking. Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the lardons. In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the excess fat. Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes. Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily. While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet. Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. Do not expect them to brown uniformly. Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt, and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside.
Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as the butter has begun to subside, add mushrooms. Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat. When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan.
Wash out the casserole and return the beef and lardons to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms on top. Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for 1-2 minutes, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning.
Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley.
2. Coq au Vin
Coq au Vin is another Julia Child classic you can recreate in your kitchen — whether or not you consider yourself an ambitious chef. This dinner only takes 30 minutes to prepare, and one hour to cook, and then you can taste your Julia Child original for days. As Leite’s Culinaria – the site that highlights this recipe — points out, Julia Child gives you the option of enlisting your slow cooker for this recipe, or as we show below, you can simply make Coq au Vin on your stove top.
- 1/2 cup lardons (or very thick-cut bacon), cut into 1/4- by 1 1/2-inch strips (optional)
- 2 or more tablespoons olive oil
- 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 pounds chicken, cut into parts (or all of one kind of part), thoroughly dried
- 1/4 cup Cognac or Armagnac
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 20 small white onions, peeled
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups red wine, preferably Burgundy, Côtes du Rhône, or Pinot Noir
- About 2 cups brown chicken stock or beef stock
- 1 or 2 garlic cloves, mashed or minced
- About 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3/4 pound fresh mushrooms, trimmed, washed, and quartered
Directions: To make Coq au Vin on your stovetop, if you’re using lardons or bacon, sauté them in 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer the pork to a side dish, leaving the drippings in the pan.
Heat the drippings (or oil) in the pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, be careful not to crowd the pan, working in batches if necessary. Cook the chicken, turning frequently, until nicely browned on all sides. Carefully pour the Cognac or Armagnac into the pan, let it become bubbling hot, and then, if desired — and if you’re brave — ignite the sauce with a match. Let it flame for a minute, tilting the pan by its handle and swirling the sauce to burn off alcohol. To extinguish the flames, simply cover the pan with its lid.
Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add the bay leaf and thyme to the pan and place the onions around the chicken. Cover and simmer gently, turning the chicken once, for about 10 minutes. Uncover the pan, sprinkle the flour over everything, and turn the chicken and onions so the flour is absorbed by the sauce. Cover and cook, turning once or twice, for 3 to 4 minutes more.
Remove the pan from the heat and gradually stir and swirl in the wine and enough stock or bouillon to almost cover the chicken. Add the lardons or bacon, garlic, and tomato paste to the pan, cover, and gently simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Test the chicken for doneness and remove those pieces that are ready. Continue to cook the rest of the chicken a few minutes longer. If the onions are not quite tender, continue cooking them in the sauce, then return the chicken to the pan, add the mushrooms, and simmer 4 to 5 minutes.
The sauce should be just thick enough to lightly coat the chicken and vegetables. If it is too thin, boil it down rapidly to concentrate; if it is too thick, thin it with spoonfuls of stock or bouillon. Taste the sauce carefully, and correct the seasoning accordingly. Serve immediately or let cool, cover, and refrigerate overnight. To reheat, skim any fat that has congealed on the surface of the stew and place the pan of coq au vin over medium-low heat.
3. Cream of Leek and Potato Soup
Here’s a Julia Child soup recipe to mix things up. Thanks to Food Network, you can find her directions on how to make the perfect Cream of Leek and Potato Soup online. You know Julia loved her cream, so grab some of that, your leeks, baking potatoes, and chives, and get going. Fall is quickly going to be upon us, so it’s high time you learn a new soup recipe in honor of our favorite chef.
- 3 cups sliced leeks, white and tender green parts
- 3 cups peeled and roughly chopped baking potatoes, like russets
- 6 cups water
- 11/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
- 1/3 cup minced chives or parsley
Directions: In a large heavy saucepan, bring the leeks, potatoes, water, and salt to the boil over high heat. Cover partially, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Correct the seasoning, to taste, and purée with a handheld immersion blender, or in batches in a food processor.
Whisk in the cream and reheat before serving. Top each serving with a dollop of crème fraîche and sprinkling of fresh chives.
4. Cheese Soufflé
Julia Child’s Cheese Soufflé recipe, highlighted by Food.com, is next because we all know that while Julia certainly loved her cream, she also loved her cheese — and her butter. Enlist all of those ingredients and make this soufflé to celebrate Julia’s special day. While this recipe has a lot of steps, it actually only takes 55 minutes to make, and it will instantly put you right back in Julia Child’s kitchen.
- 2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup milk, whole
- 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, unbleached
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg
- 4 large egg yolks
- 5 large egg whites
- 1 cup Gruyère cheese, packed coarsely (about 4 ounces)
Directions: Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter 6-cup (1-1/2 quart) soufflé dish. Add Parmesan cheese and tilt dish, coating bottom and sides. Warm milk in heavy small saucepan over medium-low heat until steaming. Meanwhile, melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until mixture begins to foam and loses raw taste, about 3 minutes; do not allow mixture to brown. Remove saucepan from heat; let stand 1 minute. Pour in warm milk, whisking constantly until very thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in paprika, salt, and nutmeg. Add egg yolks 1 at a time, whisking to blend after each addition. Scrape soufflé base into large bowl. Cool to lukewarm. Cover and let stand at room temperature.
Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in another large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/4 of whites into lukewarm or room temperature soufflé base to lighten. Fold in remaining whites in 2 additions while gradually sprinkling in Gruyère cheese. Transfer batter to prepared dish. Place dish in oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake until soufflé is puffed and golden brown on top and center moves only slightly when dish is shaken gently, about 25 minutes (do not open oven door during first 20 minutes.) Serve immediately.
5. Chocolate Soufflé
Rounding up our Julia Child roundup with a couple of her iconic desserts, we first start out with this Chocolate Soufflé recipe from Bakepedia. This chocolate dish is about as rich and indulgent as it gets, and while there surprisingly isn’t any cream on the ingredient list, there sure is butter, and a lot of it. Along with the butter you need quality chocolate, egg yolks, coffee, orange liqueur, and then some egg whites, and you’re good to go. Your stomach will especially be thanking Julia for this recipe.
- A 3-quart porcelain or stainless steel mixing bowl
- A wire whip or electric beater
- 4 egg yolks
- ¼ cup instant sugar (very finely granulated)
- ¼ cup orange liqueur
- A pan of not-quite-simmering water
- A basin of cold water
- 6 ounces or squares semisweet baking chocolate
- 4 tablespoons strong coffee
- A small saucepan
- 6 ounces or 1 ½ sticks softened unsalted butter
- Optional: ¼ cup finely diced, glazed orange peel
- 4 egg whites
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 cups vanilla-flavored crème anglaise or lightly whipped cream sweetened with powdered sugar
Directions: 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 the not-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 for 3 to 4 minutes until the mixture is cool again and forms the ribbon. It will have the consistency of mayonnaise.
Melt the chocolate with the coffee over hot water. Remove from the 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 optional orange peel. Beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form; sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Stir one fourth of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the rest. Turn into serving dish, dessert cups, or petits pots. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Serve the sauce or whipped cream separately.
6. Best-Ever Brownies
Last but certainly not least, we end on a sweet note with Julia’s Best-Ever Brownies, recipe courtesy of Food.com. This is the only brownie formula you will ever need, so bake it up quickly at the end of the week. Her birthday’s on a Friday for a reason. These luxurious brownies will really make you wish Julia Child was still around, but at least we can relish in the fact that her recipes will be with us forever.
- 1 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces unsalted butter
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
Directions: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. I bake them at a lower oven temp of 330 degrees Fahrenheit. Sift the flour and salt together; set aside. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently and keeping a watchful eye on the pot to make certain the chocolate doesn’t scorch. Add 1 cup of the sugar to the mixture and stir for half a minute, then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Pour the mixture into a large bowl.Put the remaining 1 cup sugar and the eggs into a bowl and mix or whisk by hand just to combine. Little by little, pour half of the sugar and eggs into the chocolate mixture, stirring gently but constantly with a rubber spatula so that the eggs don’t set from the heat. Fit the whisk attachment to the mixer and whip the remaining sugar and eggs until they are thick, pale, and doubled in volume, about 3 minutes. Using the rubber spatula, delicately fold the whipped eggs into the chocolate mixture.
When the eggs are almost completely incorporated, gently fold in the dry ingredients. Pour and scrape the batter in to an unbuttered 9-inch square pan. Bake the brownies for 22-26 minutes, during which time they will rise a little and the top will turn dark and dry. Cut into the center at about the 22-minute mark to see how the brownies are progressing: they’ll be done when barely set and still slightly gooey.