Julia Child's company joins her in the Kitchen
When guests arrive for dinner at the home of Paul and Julia they usually find the cook in the kitchen and they are likely to be invited to join her in whatever she's preparing for the meal.
The kitchen at the Child's invites such hospitality because it is large comfortable, "more of a family room, we spend so much time in it." The 18-by-24 -foot room is big enough to fit a table, which seats six people comfortably. Julia says if there is one room in her home she could do without, it would be the dining room.
Julia likes to be one of the party as she goes about readying dinner. "With the cook in the kitchen the food is infinitely better," she says, "because it does not have to wait for the guests."
But Julia does suggest that although everything does not have to be ready before guests arrive, "the more one can accomplish, the better." She advises, "When entertaining, don't make a 'thing' about anything -- but be informal and unhurried, keeping the kitchen clean and professional looking."
The Child's kitchen in Cambridge is professional looking. It is not elaborate, but has a casual warmth and charm, and everything is easily accessible. The walls are covered with pegboard -- on one hangs a collection of saute pans, cast-iron muffin tins, hammered-copper gratin dishes, and fish molds.
On another is a variety of cast-iron skillets, and in the pantry the pegboard displays tools for pastrymaking, such as a croissant cutter and flan rings. Each hook is mar ked with a silhoutte, so nothing is ever out of place.
Julia and her husband, Paul, designed the kitchen together, in soft shades of green and blue, accented by gleaming copper and stainless steel, pottery and wood, and the shiny black Garland restaurant stove.
Julia's menu or her company is elegant, but the dishes, chosen with special friends in mind, are much less expensive to cook at home than to order in a restaurant. The meal begins with a cold appetizer of artichoke halves filled with shrimp in a creamy vinaigrette sauce.
A Roast Rack of Lamb is the entree, accompanied by baby carrots, tomatoes moussakaise, and a gratin potatoes. The combination of foods are colorful together and need only a simple setting.
For dessert, Julia makes hazelnut cornucopias, which are delicate wafers rolled into a horn shape, filled with whipped cream, and served with a bowl of fresh strawberries.
This menu is one of 13 in Julia's latest book, "More Julia Child and Company." The book accompanies her new TV series of the same name and is similar to its predecessor, "Julia Child and Company." She keeps a thrifty budget and a busy schedule in mind when planning the menus, but allows for an occasional splurge, like the Rack of Lamb.
Julia once said that she would never do anything but French cooking, but after several years she felt it was time to get away from the strickly classic French cuisine. Her recent books have drawn from a number of cooking traditions , "since that is really the American way of doing things."
"I'm interested in teaching people how to cook good food, or better food. I want to take the fright out of cooking. And I am eager for people to try things they're unfamiliar with, such as mussels, spaghetti squash, celery root, and monkfish. Monkfish is a European delicacy, but in our country it is less expensive than many other kinds of fish."
In "More Julia Child and Company" no conventions have been taken for granted. Trying out new ideas and recipes required a team of workers to do the research, planning, shopping, and testing.
The group includes Elizabeth Bishop, executive associate and right hand to Julia; Ruth Lockwood, her personal director; chefs Marian Morash, Sara Moulton, and Bess Coughlin; and of course, Paul Child, with his artistic eye and attention to detail.
Three of each dish are made -- Julia does one on television, one is prepared to show the finished dish, and a third is made in case anything happens to the other two.
With each menu, Julia, in her engaging manner, gives a marketing list, explains the timing involved in preparing the meal, and suggests what to do with leftovers.
For special occasions, this book can put a hostess at ease because the organization has already been done and the food is guaranteed to get raves.
Here is Julia's recipe for Artichoke Scoops With Shellfish, and she recommends choosing the filing according to what is freshest and looks best at the time -- shrimp, crab, lobster, scallops, or mushrooms. Artichoke Scoops with Shellfish 1/2 tablespoon very finely minced shallots or scallions 1/2 teaspoon or more salt 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves 1 raw egg yolk 1 teaspoon Dijon-style prepared mustard 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 tablespoon wine vinegar 6 tablespoons light olive oil or best-quality salad oil Freshly ground pepper Drops of hot pepper sauce, optional 1 1/2 cups cooked shellfish meat, or raw mushrooms Salt, pepper, oil, lemon juice, as needed 3 large fine boiled or steamed artichokes
Mash shallots or scallions in small bowl with salt, then tarragon. Beat in yolk and mustard, then lemon juice and vinegar. In a small stream, beat in oil. Season to taste with pepper, and hot pepper sauce if desired.
Remove any cartilage from shellfish. In small bowl, fold in dressing and let sit 10 minutes, folding several times. Taste, and add additional lemon juice, oil, or seasonings if needed.
Slice artichokes in half lengthwise, and scoop out center core of leaves and chokes with a teaspoon. Shortly before serving, pile sauce filling into each cavity.
It is best not to sauce the filling too far ahead for fear the sauce might separate. Instead, toss the shellfish with salt, pepper, and drops of lemon juice and oil; cover and refrigerate. Fold in the sauce and assemble 10 minutes before serving.