...family, friends, home and other tidbits of a blessed life

Friday, April 16, 2010

Julie, Julia and my cookbook

As the movie starts, Julie is in the middle of a work crisis. Julie’s mate challenges her to cook since that is what makes her happy. Blog and cook. Time limit 1 year. Cook all the items in the Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. More items to cook than days in the year. I loved the movie. All of it. And for the last several days have been dreaming in French, talking to myself in French. And cooking.

Several years ago in a time of high stress and major upheaval in my life, I decided it would be a good thing to put all the family recipes into a cookbook. I had already lost recipes handwritten by my grandmother and my aunt and did not want a repeat of this misfortune for my sons. Since my younger child was the root of the upheaval in my life, I dedicated the cookbook to him.So I relate to this movie on a very personal level. Food, cooking and stress! I must confess, I am a stress eater. I also confess that cooking makes me feel better. It’s cathartic. Had I not had the cookbook and a goal in mind, I probably would have collapsed totally and that would have been a disaster as I needed to be the support person during our crisis. I formulated a page layout in Photoshop(TM) and once that was accomplished, the process was fairly easy. Type the recipe onto the page layout and print. But I didn't stop there. I added lots of family pictures, all involving food. Hence the cookbook grew to very large, time consuming, all-encompassing proportions. Cheaper than a shrink for sure. But now that it's complete, it's a handy reference and I no longer have to figure out where I stuck a recipe, was it in a cookbook or is it handwritten, all those problems were neatly addressed with this one publication.

So back to my mutterings and musings; I’ve been cooking French. Earlier this week it was Salade Niçoise (clicking this link will take you to Julia's version). Served with a fresh baguette and a glass of wine, it’s a delightful meal and not too unhealthy either. Today I share the recipe with you. Bon Appetit!

Williams Sonoma Mediterranean Tuna Salad
~~~~~although this is not Julia's, I actually like this one better because it has fresh dill

1/2 lb young green beans, trimmed and cut in half crosswise
ice water to cover
1 lb small, ripe tomatoes
1 cucumber
1 small green bell pepper, seeded, deribbed and cut into 1/2-inch squares
4 small green onions, including some green tops, chopped
3-4 red potatoes, quartered, boiled until done, cooled.
3-4 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill
13 or so ounces of solid pack tuna in olive/safflower oil, drained and flaked apart

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/s lb mesclun or other small lettuces, carefully rinsed and dried
4 eggs, hard boiled, peeled and quartered lengthwise
8 anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained and cut in half crosswise
20 tiny Niçoise olives or 12 small Italian or Spanish black olives

Place the green beans in a bowl. Add ice water to cover and set aside for 10-15 minutes.
fill a saucepan three fourths full of water and bring to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons salt. Transfer the beans to the pan, reserving ice water. Boil until bright green, but still crisp, 3-4 minutes. Return the beans to the ice water. When cool, drain and set aside.

Core the tomatoes, cut into wedges and put in a bowl. Peel the cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, and, using a small spoon, scoop out the seeds and discard. Cut crosswise into slices 1/2" thick and add to the tomatoes. Add the bell pepper, green onions, potatoes, dill, tuna and green beans.

To make the dressing in a small jar with lid, combine the lemon juice, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Stir until the salt is dissolved. Add the olive oil. Close the lid, Shake vigorously until all is blended. Spoon half the dressing over the vegetables and toss. Serve the remaining dressing on the side.

Divide the lettuces among 4 pasta bowls or plates. spoon the vegetables and tuna mixture on top. Place 4 egg quarters on each plate and top each quarter with 1 anchovy fillet half. Divide the olives among the salads. Serve with sliced french baguette. Do you have a recommendation for a wine??

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