Julia’s Guidance

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I don’t know if you’ve ever tried cooking a real meal but if you want to take a chance, don’t do it alone.  Tonight was another great success and Julia Child led me all the way.

Tonight we enjoyed a mushroom soup and cheese bread followed by the main course of Roast Pork, New Potatoes and Pearl Onions with French Bread and Roasted Brussel Sprouts.  Our dessert was a fantastic Apple Tart with glazed Apricot preserves and cream.

Each bite was a huge hit and we left the table full and fully satisfied.


Eat Your Potage

A potato can be so much more, with a little love and a lot of time.

I’ve encouraged you to try new things from time to time.  Take up a hobby, read a book, try a new adventure:  It challenges your senses and gives you confidence.  It breaks the routine and opens your mind to new ideas.

In that spirit, I cooked a potato.

But, before you laugh, I’ll have you know that I also cooked pearl onions and baby bell mushrooms and burgundy wine and leaks and carrots and three pounds of stewing beef.  Over the course of seven hours of cooking, I whisked, stirred, chopped, and tasted.  I even pealed oranges with a potato pealer or all things.

It was my daughter’s 20th birthday and we celebrated with a most successful candlelit meal.  We aren’t usually high-class folks; pizza and coke will serve our needs most of the time.  But last night we pulled out all the stops and ate like the French:  No Italian Pizza for us!  Each course of the dinner was made from Julia Child and her wonderful book, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”  Julia didn’t let us down.

For the Appetizer we had Potage Parmentier with Asiago Cheese Bread.  This beautiful, creamy potato and leak soup was topped with freshly chopped parsley and provided the perfect beginning to the meal.  We enjoyed small bowls of the soup along with a crisp glass of Chardonnay.  After the slurping stopped, our appetites were primed and ready.

The Salad was a tossed green salad with Julia’s perfect Red Wine Vinaigrette.  We enjoyed various cheeses to compliment the salad, including Goat Cheese, Parmesan and Gouda along with a fresh loaf of crackling French Bread.

The Main Course was a huge success:  Beef Bourguignon, Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce served with a nice Burgundy wine.  This was the richest, most wonderful food I’ve ever tasted.  The meat was tender and full of flavor.  The Hollandaise sauce was buttery, lemony and smooth.  The asparagus was tender and crisp.  The house is still filled with the aroma of the beef and my mouth waters even as I describe the plate.

We ended the evening with the Candy-Glazed Oranges, a Port wine and coffee.

Emily was most pleased with her birthday dinner.

If you ever tire of the routine you’ve created, the rut you are in, the daily grind that awaits you, I implore you to try something new:  Grab a cook book and spend some time in front of the stove.  But be warned, you’d better have Julia at your elbow helping you along the way because it is a challenge not intended for the faint of heart…but worth every minute and every amazing bite.

Eating our Way Through Vacation

Our vacation this past week was all about sun and fun…and food. We ate very well while were were away and there wasn’t a meal that disappointed.

Our first stop was the well-attended Popolano’s in Chesterton, Indiana.  This wonderful restaurant provided fantastic Italian cuisine at a reasonable price.  Seated on the patio, we enjoyed a perfect summer evening under the lights and received excellent service that was the perfect compliment to our food.  The only disappointment to the meal was the cannoli that lacked substance.

In the mood for a little spice, we ventured into a menu that originated south of the boarder.  El Salto did not disappoint!  With its garlic roasted shrimp, perfect taco salads and salsa, this Chesterton option was everything we’d hoped it would be.  Perhaps the best item on the menu was the re-fried beans.  Made in the store, these beans offered a nutty, roasted flavor unlike any I’d ever tasted before.  We left the table fully satisfied by the food, even if the server seemed to be less than enthused to be serving us.

The next outstanding meal was found in Chicago.  Based on the recommendation of a 17 year old friend, we caught a taxi and made our way to Ann Sather on Belmont.  Known for their Sweet Rolls, this Swedish diner had the most amazing breakfast.  The rolls (2 for $3) were smothered in sugary goodness.  In fact, by the end of the meal, everything was covered in powdered sugar glaze:  the coffee mug, the silverware and our fingers!  My Smoked Salmon and Eggs Benedict were unbelievable.  There wasn’t a person at the table who left disappointed with their meal.

Our biggest, and most expensive meal of the trip occurred on the night of our 27th anniversary.  We made a reservation for Cafe Bionda on State Street in Chicago.  Let me just say that I’ve never had a better plate of Eggplant Parmesan.  And this establishment wins, hands-down, the cannoli award.  Throw in a glass of their Cabernet and it was the perfect meal.

Our final dinner together was a simple pizza from Pizza Hut.  Carried out and eaten in our hotel room for a twenty-spot, the thin-crust vege with bread sticks and a small side salad was nothing short of beautiful.  We watched the Olympics and enjoyed the quiet of the room during our last night together.  It was a wonderful meal to end our wonderful vacation.