Posted by: njbrown | January 2, 2011

A new year of cooking

The second half of 2010 was spent away from the stove, but as Christmas approached, there were more reasons to once again don my Julia-style apron.  After a Thanksgiving of making more dishes than I ever have for a single meal to accommodate all of the dietary preferences and restrictions in the family, I decided to simplify for Christmas.  Sadly, Julia’s Buche de Noel was deleted from the menu, but perhaps next year I’ll be ready for a tour de force.  This year’s Christmas dinner was salmon done in a balsamic-garlic glaze recommended by my sister, portobello mushrooms filled with home-made stove-top stuffing, wild rice, and a moussaka-like dish.  For dessert, I adapted Julia’s pastry recipe so that my vegan daughter could eat it, and made a guilt-free pumpkin filling without eggs or condensed milk.  All in all, a satisfying and much easier meal to prepare.

Early in December, I’d had a brief, shining return to Julia-like cooking when I made a lobster, scallop and shrimp “pie” (topped with puff pastry) for a pot-luck dinner.  Heavy cream really is a wonderful ingredient!

In Julia’s day – especially in France – there was no concern about “factory farming.”  She was able to get beautiful, fresh ingredients from small farms where animals were treated well.  Her beloved butter and cream as well as all sorts of meat and seafood held absolutely no guilt for her.  Thankfully, a number of modern chefs are focusing on “sustainable ingredients,” and I hope in 2011 this trend will continue.  It is worth paying more for food that is healthy and ecologically responsible as well as delicious.

Bon appetit!



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