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Cookbooks in the Pantry: Julia Child & Company


Julia Child & Company, by Julia Child (1978)

Why I've kept it: Who better to see us through the holidays -- through every day -- than Julia? And who better to teach us how to entertain all year long, without getting tied up in knots? 

My husband Ted and I have tackled some ambitious entertaining dishes in our kitchen over the years. One of the fanciest was a recipe from this book, a chicken melon (boned and stuffed chicken in its own skin, filled with chicken paté, forced into the shape of a melon with a judicious application of cheesecloth and twine. It took two of us to accomplish what Julia made look so easy, but without her gentle voice and encouragement throughout the recipe, we'd never have had the courage to tackle it at all.

However, while Julia Child & Company focuses on entertaining, most of the recipes are not super fancy. I love that this book, which was a companion volume to Julia's television series of the same name (if you watched the series, you can actually hear her voice while you read), is organized by menu, with each chapter containing the game plan for an entire meal from appetizer to dessert. You can mix and match, of course, or make the whole menu as Julia envisioned it. The recipes walk you through basic techniques and strategies for putting a beautiful meal on the table.

I still love this homage I made for Julia's 100th birthday, an adaptation of her spiced pound cake recipe, and this salad Nicoise-style, inspired by Julia, too. I've made or adapted, but not shared here, many dishes from this book in addition to the chicken melon.

Bookmarked, to try next: chicken bouillabaisse with rouille.

Do you have Julia Child & Company, or other books by Julia, on your cookbook shelf?

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I only have one Julia Child book in my collection, and I haven't ever seen this one but it sure does sound fun!

The original Mastering the Art..., TV series and books, came along just when I was first married and taught me a lot at a high foundation level. My mother and I sat and watched her together. I had the book on my lap and made notes where she differed from the printed word.
And Company, I'm sorry to say, is in my give-away pile. Just doesn't help me as a vegetarian! Sorry, Julia, sorry, Lydia.

Newly married years ago and desperately trying to learn to cook delicious meals, Julia and Paul Child came here to a major department store to promote one of her cookbooks (off hand I don't remember the name; its on bookshelves in the basement). My new mother-in-law (a wonderful cook and devotee of her cooking show) and I went and got autographed cookbooks by Julia and Paul. I tried a few of the recipes but the only one I remember was the mussels in a wine sauce. My mother gave me the 2 volume set of French cooking before I was married but I have never made anything from it. I guess I consider it collectible now just because it was co-authored by Julia Child.

My husband bought this book (and the one that followed it) when it first came out and the TV show was aired. Even though many of the recipes are beyond my expertise, still I love flipping through it. I remember that Chicken Melon! Most of all I remember Julia plopping that huge and ugly monkfish on the table! Yes, yes, you CAN hear her marvelous voice when your read. It's always a joy to revisit this remarkable book. Thanks for the memories, Lydia.

Finally -- some love for the two most under-rated JC books! I bought both of these in 1980/81 soon after they first appeared (yep, I'm officially old) and when I got my first food processor. I own them in both the paperback versions (for kitchen) and hardbacks (for archive).

And the first thing I tackled was the Poulet Charente a la Melonaise. Made it twice the first year, for parties. It's truly a showstopper, and time-consuming, but spectacular. But I don't think I've made it in the past 20 years. I think Thomas Keller may have murdered my love of project-type cooking.

But I may bust these out again for the next anniversary of JC's birthday. I remember especially loving the pistachios in the chicken pate'.

Thanks for the memory, Lydia. Nobody ever mentions these books in all the Julia hagiographies. I'd love to get my hands on videos of the two TV series, too.

Postscript: Looking again at your photo of the book, I'm reminded how much I loved that double-crusted apple tart she's holding in her hands. I made that dessert dozens & dozens of times, it's a perfect cross between elegant and rustic, with its decoration that lookes like gift-wrap. Dang it, I'm gonna add some cranberries to the apple filling and make that for Thanksgiving next week as a little homage to Julia.

I have seven cookbooks by Julia Child of which 4 of them are autographed to me. I had the pleasure of cooking for her and 1,700 professional chefs at the Year 2000 Professional Chef’s Convention held in Providence, RI. Convention Center. I was invited into New Japan Restaurant kitchen by chef/owner to make appetizers for all 1,700 attendees and then I was paired with Chef Derek Wagner to produce dinner for Julia’s head table of 50 Chefs. I collected as many chefs’ signatures (including Julia’s on my cooking apron which I have not washed since that day. I was then invited to attend Julia’s retirement parties in Boston and was seated at her family table.

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