Julia Child, larger-than-life personality and legendary cook, was born one hundred years ago this August fifteenth. Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One, written by Julia and her two colleagues, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck, was published more than fifty years ago (Alfred A. Knoff, Inc, October 1961). The cookbook, with its meticulous attention to detail regarding materials and cooking techniques, quickly became a primer of classical French cuisine for American cooks and continues to inspire generations of folk who enjoy wonderful food and love to cook. My treasured 1961 edition, with broken spine and much spattered pages, is always at hand… ready to remind me how to deal with a lobster, to bone out a chicken and how to prepare the most delicious soupe au pistou, the perfect boeuf Bourguignon, to-die-for coquilles St. Jacques and on and on…
For two weeks (August 15-28) at All The Best we acknowledge our debt to Julia and feature some favourite ‘Julia-inspired’ dishes on our menu as well as tastings of specialties of French cuisine. We encourage you to share with us our passion for foods with great taste and to follow Julia’s advice… “Be fearless in the kitchen and above all have fun.”
Julia’s Salade Niçoise
Julia’s cookbooks include hundreds of delicious recipes for imaginative preparation of vegetables and they describe the simple techniques which enable you to achieve great results and then go on to ‘do your own thing’. This appetizing combination of potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, anchovies, tuna, hard boiled eggs, olives and lettuce is a visual delight.
Use vegetables at peak of flavour and freshness. Arrange as you wish on a large platter or on individual plates and serve as an hors d’oeuvres or as a main dish summer salad.
3 cups/750 ml cold, blanched green beans
3-4 tomatoes, quartered
1 cup/250 ml White Wine Vinaigrette (see below)
1 Boston lettuce, leaves separated, washed, drained and dried
3 cups/750 ml French-style potato salad (see note)
½ cup/125 ml pitted dry-cured Nyons olives 3 hard-boiled eggs, cold, peeled and quartered
6 anchovy fillets, rinsed and dried
1 cup/250 ml canned tuna chunks, drained, or grilled fresh tuna
2-3 tbsp /30-45 ml minced, fresh green herbs (basil, chives, tarragon, chervil, parsley)
In a large bowl, just before serving, toss green beans and tomatoes with a few tablespoons of vinaigrette. Set aside. In another large bowl, toss lettuce with about ¼ cup (60 ml) vinaigrette.
On a large platter, or on individual plates, arrange potato salad. Surround potatoes with lettuce leaves and place beans and tomatoes in clusters on the lettuce. Decorate plate with olives, eggs, anchovy fillets and tuna chunks, Drizzle with more vinaigrette and sprinkle with fresh herbs.
White Wine Vinaigrette
To quote our mentor: “It’s the dressing that makes the dish. And it’s the excellence of the oil and the vinegar that make the dressing.”
2 tbsp/30 ml good white wine vinegar
(or a mixture of vinegar and fresh lemon juice
Kosher or sea salt
1 tsp/5 ml Dijon mustard
6 tbsp/90 ml olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
½ garlic clove (optional)
1-2 tbsp/15-30 ml fresh green herbs, finely chopped
In a small bowl, beat vinegar and lemon juice, if using, with a good pinch of salt and mustard until salt is dissolved. Slowly whisk in oil and season with pepper. For light garlic flavour, rub salad bowl with cut garlic clove or, if desired, mince the garlic and combine with the vinegar, salt and mustard. Taste and correct seasoning before dressing the salad. Stir in herbs just before serving.
Watch our website, allthebestfinefoods.com for more Julia Child inspired recipes as we approach her centenary. Together, with Julia, we wish you ‘Toujours bon appétit!’
Food columnist and cookbook author Jane Rodmell is a founder and principal of All The Best Fine Foods, a Certified Good Food Fighter. Please support the businesses and organisations that support Good Food Revolution.