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Paris Tea Table, by Barbara Redmond

Paris Tea Table, by Barbara Redmond

Julie & Julia is narrated by a vivacious, hysterical, brutally honest woman who is saddled with an unfulfilling job and is desperate for a new project. Julie Powell decides to cook her way through Julia Child’s famed cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Amid the pounds of butter, hollandaise sauce, and red wine poached eggs, Julie realizes that meeting her challenge is about more than cooking every recipe in Julia’s book; there is an untapped ambition and drive within her that is straining for release. Although our challenges are different, we see ourselves in Julie’s struggle for fulfillment and satisfaction. Julie reminds us that changing our circumstances is not enough — it is a matter of transforming one’s soul as well.

A good read. For a story to enjoy, opt for the film adaptation by the same title. The book focuses more on the struggles and the transformation of the author and portrays Paul and Julia Child’s courtship, while the movie is lighter, more upbeat, and tells the story of Julia’s time in Paris, her education at le Cordon Bleu, and the genesis of her cookbook. Both are highly entertaining and will inspire you to cook your way through ten pounds of butter. Bon appétit! (Sweet, easy recipes from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” included.)

Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume One

By Julia Child,  Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck (Alfred A. Knopf)

 Pralin (Caramelized Almonds)

“This delicious ingredient is quickly made and can be stored for weeks in a screw-topped jar. It is used in desserts and sauces, as a sprinkling for ice cream, and as a flavoring for cake icings and fillings. In France, pralin is also made with hazel nuts or a mixture of hazel nuts and almonds.”

For about 1 cup


– ½ Cup slivered or powdered almonds
– ½ Cup granulated sugar
– 2 Tablespoons sugar
– An oiled marble slab or large baking sheet


1. Toast the almonds in a 350-degree oven as previously described. (Spread whole, slivered, or powdered almonds in a roasting pan and set in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes. Stir them up frequently and keep an eye on them so they do not burn. They should emerge an even, light, toasty brown.)

2. Boil the sugar and water in a small saucepan until the sugar caramelizes. Immediately stir in the toasted almonds. Bring just to the boil, then pour onto the marble or baking sheet. When cold, in about 10 minutes, break the hardened mass into pieces. Pulverize in the electric blender, pound to a course powder in a mortar, or put through a meat grinder.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume Two

By Julia Child and Simone Beck (Alfred A. Knopf)

Les Truffes aux Chocolat (Chocolate Candies in the Form of Truffles)

“Rough balls of melted chocolate, butter, and orange liqueur rolled in cocoa look like freshly dug truffles. These homemade candies are easy to make and, unfortunately for those who are trying not to resemble Barbar the elephant, they are quite irresistible.”

For 1 1/2 dozen


– ¼ Cup strong coffee (1 Tablespoon instant coffee in ¼ cup boiling water)
– A covered saucepan for melting the chocolate
– 7 Ounces semisweet baking chocolate
– 2 Ounces unsweetened chocolate
– A larger pan of simmering water removed from heat, to hold chocolate pan
– A hand-held electric mixer
– 5 Ounces (1 ¼ sticks) chilled unsalted butter
– ¼ Cup orange liqueur
– A sturdy teaspoon
– About ½ cup unsweetened cocoa on a plate
– Frilled paper bonbon cups


1. Dissolve the coffee in the saucepan with the hot water; break up the chocolate, and stir it into the liquid. Cover, and set in the pan of hot but not simmering water. When the chocolate has softened, beat with electric mixer until perfectly smooth and creamy. Remove from hot water and beat a moment to cool. Cut chilled butter into 1/3-inch slices and gradually beat into the chocolate with mixer, adding a new piece as soon as a previous one is almost absorbed. When smooth, beat in the orange liqueur by dribbled. Chill for an hour or two, until firm.

2. When chocolate mixture has chilled and set, remove by teaspoon gobs, roll into rough circular shapes, then roll in the cocoa to enrobe them completely. Place in paper cups.

(*) When packed in an airtight container, truffes will keep perfectly for several weeks in the refrigerator, or for several months in the freezer.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume Two

By Julia Child and Simone Beck (Alfred A. Knopf)

Couques (Tongue-shaped Caramelized Cookies Made from Puff Pastry Dough)

“These were made famous in the 1920s by Le Café de Paris, on the Avenue de l’Opéra. Whenever you ordered ice cream, long couques on embroidered napery accompanied each serving, and they soon became the most fashionable cookies in Paris. Couque comes from the Flemish koek, whose diminutive, koekje, produced our “cookie.” We shall not give proportions because they are not necessary, but a circle of dough 3 inches in diameter and ½ inch thick will produce 6 to 8 couques 6 to 7 inches long.”


– Chilled leftover French puff pastry, pâte feuilletée
– An oval fluted cutter 3 to 3 ½ inches long (or a 2-inch round cutter, preferably fluted)
– Sugar (ordinary granulated sugar)
– A flexible-blade spatula
– A clean dry baking sheet
– A rack or racks


1. Forming the cookie

Preheat oven to 450 degrees in time for Step 2, and set rack in upper-middle level. Roll pastry out about 1/8 inch thick, and cut into ovals (or rounds). Reform leftovers, roll out again, and cut.

Spread an oval-shaped layer of sugar 1/8 inch thick on your rolling surface. Lay a pastry cutout on the sugar and roll it out into a tongue shape 6 to 7 inches long and about 1/16 inch thick; you will be encrusting sugar into the bottom of the pasty as you roll. Turn it upside down, sprinkle on more sugar, and set on baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the cutouts. (Although you can bake the cookies now, they usually cook more evenly if you cover with plastic wrap and chill them for half an hour at least; this relaxes the dough and prevents it from shrinking or pulling out of shape during the baking.)

2. Baking — oven has been preheated to 450 degrees.

Bake in upper-middle level of preheated oven for 7 to 8 minutes, until sugar coating has caramelized lightly; if some cookies are done before others, remove them to rack because they burn easily. Cookies crisp as they cool.

(*) Couques will stay crisp for several days in dry weather when stored airtight; otherwise keep them in a warming oven or freeze them.

Bethany Olson received her B.A. in French and Environmental Studies from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. Bethany relocated to Mobile, AL after graduation to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA member, and is currently employed full-time as Programs Assistant. Following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill of 2010, she contributes to the organization’s efforts to advocate for restoration of the Gulf Coast, particularly Coastal Alabama. She is employed by Mobile Baykeeper, a small environmental non-profit organization located in Mobile, Alabama, dedicated to protecting the health, beauty and heritage of the Mobile Bay Watershed and Alabama’s coastal ecosystems and communities. Bethany hopes one day to run her own nonprofit organization. In her free time, Bethany loves to cook and bake, craft, write and garden.

You may also enjoy A Woman’s Paris® post, Julia Child: French Cooking for North Americans, by Canadian writer Philippa Campsie who writes about the challenge of making a simple birthday cake in Paris, from finding the familiar whipping cream, measuring cups and spoons, to the search for birthday candles to top the cake! Recipe for Yogurt Cake by Sophie Dudemaine, cookbook author and French TV star, from her cookbook titled, Les Cakes de Sophie.

French Cuisine: Cooking schools in Paris founded by women, by Barbara Redmond who writes about extraordinary women who cook: from Anne Willan, Marthe Distel and Elisabeth Brassart, to “Les trios gourmands,” Julia Child, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle. Including a directory of cooking schools in Paris.

You may also enjoy A Woman’s Paris® post, French Onion Soup – a Paris meal to remember, by Michelle Hum who recalls the aroma of sweet, caramelized onions, dry wine, and rich broth carried with the steam rising from her bowl. With the first taste — serendipity. Recipe included for Julia Child’s Soupe à l’oignon (French onion soup), from her cookbook, The Way to Cook

Chocolate Mousse — debonair, dark and irresistibly rich! by Barbara Redmond who tells of this crème de la crème of mousses: a supreme seducer. And uncovers the source of the original dish, first known as “Mayonnaise de Chocolat,” created in the 1900s by French post-impressionist artist, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Recipe included for Mousseline au Chocolat (Chocolate Mousse), by Julia Child from her book, The French Chef Cookbook

Text copyright ©2012 Bethany Olson. All rights reserved.
Illustration copyright ©2012 Barbara Redmond. All rights reserved.