Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cooking with Julia Child

I was so excited when Mike of Mel's Diner invited a bunch of us to recreate some of Julia Child's awesome dishes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. And what great company, I'll be keeping, some of my favorite foodies.... BreadChick Mary, Sara of I Like to Cook, Deborah of What's In My Kitchen? and Cooking for Five Mary.

The biggest challenge was choosing dishes. Not because there is little choice, but rather way, way, way too many. So we let Mike, our fearless leader in this tasty project, make the final choices. First up -

Whenever I eat onion soup (and especially when I make it), I'm reminded of growing up in Montreal and eating the best onion soup anywhere. Every restaurant served a very thick, rich, dark and flavorful soup covered in a molten, stringy, salty topping of golden cheese. Sigh and drool!

Years ago I went on a tour of Europe, I was 21. In those days, there was no way my mother would let me travel alone and wander about with friends, so joining an organized tour was the only option. When we were in Paris, someone said that we HAD to go to Les Halles (the central market) at 4 a.m. when the workers were setting up and delivering foodstuff. It was the only time to eat REAL French onion soup. I was so excited, even though I could hardly keep my eyes open. Oh, if I was as interested in food then as I am now...but never mind...we ordered the soup...a very watery version of onion soup and ....SHOCK, SHOCK, SHOCK!!! no golden stringy cheese cheese or bread at all! In fact, it was more like an oniony broth, with very few onions. I'm still recovering! And naturally all I could do (over and over and over) was tell my tour mates that they all had to come to Montreal to taste the real thing.

So I'm very happy to say...Julia's version is much closer to my own...and oh, so much better! I can't believe I never tried her version before and her secrets... egg yolk, Worcestershire sauce and cognac added to the soup just before putting it in individual oven proof soup dishes, topping the oniony soup with toasted French bread and lots of grated Swiss and ...I had to add my Montreal roots...Gruyere.

I'll let you know when the roundup gets posted over at Mel's Diner. It should be sometime early next week. I just couldn't wait another day to share with you.


Sara said...

Isn't onion soup one of the most wonderful things??? I'll have to get my post up soon.

Ruth Daniels said...

OMG!!! I forgot how awesome it is. Can't wait to read your post.

Johanna GGG said...

Love your paris story - reminds me of the travel I have done when I wish I was more interested in my food! I have some gruyere in the fridge and a french onion soup
(vegetarian version) that I want to make so this is a good reminder - yours looks fantastic

LisaRene said...

There is something amazing about onion soup! The sweet onion flavors, the saltiness, the stringy cheese and crisp yet soggy bread, yum! I have made it with red wine but never thought of cognac, must give that a try!

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the "fearless leader" comment, it's more like "foolish leader"! Once again, your commentary is winderful, putting mine to shame. Onion soup is such a great dish on a dreary, rainy day like I had today!


Ruth Daniels said...

Johanna, there are many things I want to go back to Paris for...the soup I had there is not one of them, though.

Lisarene, you are so right. I had forgotten how wonderful and yes, like you, my own recipe calls for red wine. I swear this one is even better.

Mike oh fearless leader...thanks for pulling me into this. I don't do complex dishes very often, so it was a treat. Sorry about the weather, but this has got to be the silver lining ;-)

Deborah said...

Looking back, I can't believe I didn't have French Onion Soup while I was in Paris - I guess there were just so many other things I wanted to try and do that I never made time.

I'd say it's a reason to go back..but I'll have to find a really good place to make the trip worth it. Although, I guess there are a few other reasons?