Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Corporate Lunchtime Seminar

If you are looking for some tips to prepare Quick & Healthy Fall Suppers, then click on the video below. This presentation was given at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI) in Boston.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Review of "Julie & Julia"

Lately, wherever I go people ask me if I’ve seen the new movie, Julie & Julia. My answer is “of course, I saw it within the first few days that it appeared in local theatres”. The next questions are always whether I liked it, and if I think it did a good job portraying Julia Child’s life. The answer to both questions, in my opinion, is “yes”. For those of you who haven’t yet seen the movie, it is basically a biography of Julia Child, how and why she became interested in cooking, how she wrote her first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking and how that book revolutionized home cooking in the US. Instead of focusing just on Julia’s life, however, the movie also focuses on Julie Powell, a young woman from New York, who, in a quest to find herself, cooked her way through all 524 recipes in Julia’s cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking within one year, and documented it by writing a daily blog.

Perhaps one of the reasons why I enjoyed the film so much is because I identified with both Julia and Julie. I have admired Julia Child for many years, and, like her, I didn’t begin my career thinking that I wanted to become a cooking teacher and cookbook author. Another reason why I enjoyed the movie so much was because I could also identify with Julie Powell, the young bride who cooked all of the recipes in Julia’s first cookbook. As a young bride, who loved to eat, wasn’t as thrilled being a speech therapist as I thought I’d be, and, like Julie, didn’t know what to do with my life; I too cooked my way through a good portion of Julia’s first book. In fact, I still remember the day I made Julia’s puff pastry, which had to go back and forth, for several hours, between the board on which the dough was being rolled out, to the refrigerator to chill, which I remember doing in between changing my son’s diapers! Also, at that time, I couldn’t attend as many cooking lessons as I wanted, so, like Julie, I cooked my way through Julia’s book. However, I have to confess that I didn’t even come close to trying all of the 524 recipes, and, I never made the famous duck!

The movie made me realize how much following Julia’s recipes and watching her enthusiastic and lively style on TV greatly influenced me and my love for experimenting in the kitchen. I had met Julia a couple of times, attended a few of her cooking demonstrations, and watched many of her TV shows, so the movie pointed out to me how watching Julia eventually encouraged me to start teaching cooking in my own kitchen, produce and host a cable TV show, and write 2 cookbooks. However, please realize that I don’t pretend to place myself in the same category as Julia in terms of all her knowledge, cooking techniques and marvelous personality. As many of you know, my style of cooking is geared more for today’s cooks, who often like to ‘cook from scratch’, but don’t have the time to use many of Julia’s classical techniques. And, my recipes don’t contain nearly as much butter and wine as Julia’s! One other major similarity to my life in comparison to that of Julia’s is that like Julia’s devoted, helpful and supportive husband Paul, I have Dennis, my extremely supportive husband, who encourages me to be myself and keep aiming for exciting new opportunities. I could never do what I have done without his help and encouragement.

In terms of the acting and accuracy of the movie in portraying Julia’s life, I think that Meryl Streep did a fantastic job! She really made Julia come alive! The movie closely followed Julia’s biography/autobiography, entitled My Life in France, which she wrote with Alex Prud’homme, her husband’s grand nephew. It afforded people an in depth view of Julia’s personality as well as her life, as she began her career in cooking and writing. So, if you like to cook, have enjoyed watching Julia Child cook on TV, or have enjoyed her many wonderful cookbooks, I highly recommend that you see the movie Julie & Julia.

Apple or Peach Torte

© 1991 "From Ellie's Kitchen to Yours"

1 C butter or margarine
2/3 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 C flour

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg

4 C apples or peaches, peeled and sliced
1/3 C sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Lemon juice

Apricot jam (approximately 1/2 C)

Cream butter or margarine with sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla and flour and mix until well blended. Press into bottom and a little way up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Cream filling ingredients together and pour into crust. Drizzle lemon juice over fruit and then mix fruit with sugar and cinnamon. Arrange apples or peaches attractively on top of filling. Bake at 350° for about 1 hour, or until golden. Glaze with apricot jam that has been melted and strained. Chill for a few hours. Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.

Hint: This is a very fancy looking dessert that is easy to prepare. It is delicious with either apples or peaches or a combination. I like to make it in late summer or early fall when these fruits are at their peak. You can peel peaches by dropping them into boiling water for about 40 to 60 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in cold water for the same length of time. Then remove skin with a sharp paring knife. This technique can also be used to peel tomatoes.