Friday, August 28, 2009

Julie and Julia and Julia and Me

Its been a long time since I have been inspired by a movie. I love the movies, my husband and I have date-day on tuesdays and we go to the picture show. So, I pretty much see em' all. Good, bad, really good, really bad...I go for the popcorn and stay for the movie.
In one of my past lives I worked in the "industry". I write that with quotes, because that is pretty much how I say it too. I wasn't lighting the world on fire...but I sure had fun. Got to travel a bit and meet some interesting people. I went for the celebrity sightings and stayed for the craft-service table.
So, when I tell you I was inspired by a movie, I am saying this as an avid movie watcher and jaded know-it-all.
Before I get into why I loved Julie and Julia so much...let me say this. Give Amy Adams a break. I thought she played the sorry-sack quite well, thank you. Of course, everyone wants to see Meryl Streep playing a really interesting, easily recognizable, likeable character. Juila Child's life was interesting and it was in seems quite enviable. Who wants to compete with that? It would be like comparing the life story of David Sedaris with let's say the cashier at your bank who wrote a winning essay in 5th grade on the bicentennial. Botton line...some people are more interesting than others.
I thought both chapters in this movie were equally wonderful. Let's face it, the food in Julie's chapter was exceptionally appealing.
Here's what else I loved...I loved the Love in the movie. Paul for Julia, Julia for Paul, Eric for Julie, Julie for herself.
I saw the movie for the first time at a screening with my friendApril; a friend from my past-life pavillion and a fellow food enthusiast. Before the movie there was a lovely spread of beautiful but mediocre food, by catering giant Wolfgang Puck. My favorite part of the pre-vent was meeting Jeffrey from the NEXT FOOD NETWORK STAR and not telling him he should have won. I pride myself in my brutally honest omissions.
So, i'm emotional just as a participant in life...either I am extremely empathetic or on the verge of a breakdown.
...I tell you about my emotions because Julie and Julia made me cry...more than once...okay maybe tear up is a more accurate assesment. But it did. And then it made me hungry. And then it made me envious, and then it made me hungry again...and then it made me wonder how Julie's small apartment could look so fabulous and tidy while my quite large apartment always looks like a yard sale...
...and then I was hungry again.
I have lots of nieces and nephews who love to be in the kitchen and I really wanted them to see Julie and Julia...I thought they would love it and it would inspire them as it had me.
One lazy afternoon, I took 3 of the girls to see the movie and they loved it. And I still loved it, and I teared up in the same places as I had before...and I came out of those double-doors seriously hungry. Because this is America and we are still free to do what we please, the girls and I went immediately to the grocery store and began planning our late, very French lunch. I had some amazing tomatoes from my road trip to Chino Farm at home, so we decided to make the famed bruschetta from the movie. That's a hard there...just so you know.

The gallblatter bruschetta.. is fried in oil like a donut. After spending way too much time in the meat section...we settled on poulet alouette et chevre. Okay seriously, I don't speak French...but this might actually be how you would say what we made. We finished it off with mousse au chocolat. A current obsession of my niece Julia.
We had a great time in the kitchen that and laughing and learning new skills. Personally I have never fried the bread for bruschetta, I always grill or toast it in the broiler. Frying it makes for a lovely crunch, a great color and a real treat, but it's still really good if you toast or grill the bread...once toasted, rub a garlic clove across the top, drizzle with a bit of really good olive oil and top with chopped tomatoes, garlic and fresh basil. I like to drizzle a bit of aged or reduced balsamic on top.
The Poulet Alouette et Chevre is really simple. Take 4 boneless, skinless, tasteless chicken breasts and pound them until they are about 1/8" thick. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Take 1/3 brick cream cheese, 4oz chevre and a pot of garlic and herb alouette and cream together. Separate into 4 portions and place each down the center of each breast. Fold chicken over cheese mixture and secure with toothpick if necessary. Dip each chicken parcel in lightly beaten egg and then coat in bread crumbs. Brown seam side up in olive oil on stovetop, then turn and place pan in 350 oven to finish cooking.

I made my first chocolate mousse when I was about 8 or 9 years old. I don't know how I found myself alone in the kitchen, but I was and I decided that I wanted to make chocolate mousse which resulted in a horrible accident where I spilled boiling water down my front while trying to pour a large pot of it into the sink. I knew I would be in trouble for cooking without my mom so I cleaned up and kept mum. My parents only found out about it because my mom noticed burn welts down my stomach when I was in the bath that evening. I don't remember if I was punished (probably not), but I do remember that I didn't fully understand the severity of what I had done, and all I could talk about was how delicious the mousse was.
I guess it could have been worse, I could have been stealing or doing drugs.

For the Mousse au Chocolat, separate 3 eggs and whip the whites until frothy. Add a pinch of salt and then really whip until they are stiff but not dry. Set aside while you prepare the chocolate cream. Take 1 cup heavy whipping cream and heat until a simmer. Meanwhile whisk the egg yolks with a tsp of vanilla. Temper the eggs with the hot cream and then place back on the stove. On very low heat stir constantly until the mixture thickens just enough to coat the back of the spoon and when you swipe your finger through you create a "track". Take off the heat and add 8 oz very good bittersweet chocolate pieces. Lightly whisk until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Cool to room temperature, then gently fold in the egg whites. Go slowly and carefully, you do not want to deflate the whites. Pour into individual servings and place in refrigerator to set.
Once you make this and realize how simple, fast and delicious it is, it may just become your obsession too!


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