Remembering the Recipes

Baltimore's food pros share the dishes that made them fall in love with the inimitable Julia Child.

August 18, 2004|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN FOOD EDITOR

Julia Child preferred to think of herself as a teacher rather than a chef.

And when she died last Friday, at age 91, she left behind a legion of devoted students, including chefs, cooking instructors and food writers who credited Child with helping them learn their craft.

Donna Crivello, owner of Donna's coffee bars, recalls laughing at Child's antics on television when she was young. But when Crivello became serious about cooking, one of her first books was Child's The French Chef.

"I was eager to learn, and with great direction, Julia not only taught me how to make some of my most favorite dishes, but taught me some very basic techniques of cooking that I still use today and now pass on to my own students," she said.

One of America's most beloved food legends is gone, but she leaves a legacy of recipes -- thousands of them from television shows and cookbooks during the course of a 40-year career. Here are some favorites from local folks who know and love good food.

Donna Crivello

Owner of Donna's coffee bars

"Before Julia, I thought I could never make a decent pie crust, but once I discovered her recipe for pate brisee, pies and tarts were not only easy to make, shape and roll, but were delicate and crispy. ... Truly, this is a recipe I have used now for over 25 years."

Pate Brisee

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for sprinkling

4 ounces chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 cubes

3 tablespoons chilled white vegetable shortening (see note)

For a sweet dough: a pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar dissolved in 1/3 cup of iced water

Measure flour and place in bowl. Add butter and shortening, and mix with pastry blender or a fork until it resembles a coarse meal. Butter should not soften.

Slowly add the cold water (with sugar dissolved).

Blend rapidly with a rubber spatula, pressing mixture against the sides of the bowl to form a rough mass.

Then turn dough out onto a board or marble. With the heel of one hand, rapidly press pastry bits down on the board and away from you in a firm, rough, quick 6-inch smear. This blends the flour and the fat.

Scrape into a mass, quickly form into a ball, flatten, sprinkle lightly with flour and wrap in waxed paper and chill for at least 2 hours. (It can be frozen at this point.)

When ready to roll, remove wrap, place on lightly floured board and "beat" with your rolling pin.

Lightly flour the top and bottom of the dough. Then place the rolling pin across the center, roll back and forth to start dough moving. Finally, with a firm, even stroke, and pushing your pin down and away from you, start just below the center of dough and roll to within an inch of the far edge.

Then lift the dough, turn at a slight angle, and give it another roll. Continue lifting, turning and rolling, as necessary, sprinkling with more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Roll into a circle 3/16 inch thick and at least 2 inches larger than your pan.

Work as quickly as you can so the dough will not soften. If it does, refrigerate for about 15 minutes.

Note: Over the years, Crivello has made this without the shortening and it still works just fine.

- "The French Chef"

Diane Feffer Neas

Restaurant consultant

"My father loved mussels mariniere and he tried many variations. But the best one was the simple one in [Julia's] book."

Mussels in Steamed White Wine (Moules Mariniere)

Makes 6 servings

4 tablespoons butter

1 cup minced onions

1 large clove of garlic, pureed (optional)

a large handful of chopped fresh parsley

4 quarts of fine fresh mussels, prepared for cooking (see note)

2 cups dry white French vermouth or dry white wine

Melt the butter in a 6- to 8- quart kettle with a tight-fitting lid, stir in the onions and optional garlic, and cook slowly for several minutes, until limp. Then add the parsley and the mussels, cover the kettle, and shake once to mix all the ingredients.

Pour in the vermouth or wine and shake once again. Turn heat to high, cover tightly, and let steam for 3 to 4 minutes (without shaking again in case of sand), just until the mussels have opened.

To serve, dip the mussels out, shells and all, into soup bowls. Tip the kettle and ladle the fragrant cooking liquor into each serving, being careful not to include any sand at the bottom of the kettle.

Serve with chilled dry white wine and French bread.

Note: Before cooking, be sure mussel shells are tightly closed. Keep mussels well iced. Carefully look over each mussel. It should have a sweet, fresh smell. Scrape off the beards (the hairy tufts protruding from one side of the shells). Cultivated mussels rarely have sand in the shells and now usually come ready to cook.

- "The Way to Cook"

Rob Kasper

Sun columnist

"I made this Julia Child chicken potpie in January 2001 on the Sunday that the Ravens beat the New York Giants to become Super Bowl champions.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.