Wednesday, July 29, 2009

drawing from Julia…

"It's a shame to be caught up in something that doesn't make you absolutely tremble with joy." ~ Julia Child

Julia cooking in her tiny Parisian kitchen.
Julia in on the balcony at 81, rue de L’Université. ~ these images by Paul Child

One of my favorite stories in the book “My Life in France” by Julia Child, is the part where she relates how her husband, Paul, a gifted photographer and artist, took many dramatic and beautiful images of her during the time that they live in France.

Paul Child also took many close-up photographs of Julia’s hands as she cut, diced, sliced her way into culinary history. These images were translated into line drawings by the talented illustrator Sidonie Coryn for her premiere cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Julia writes in “My Life in France”:
"Paul and I spent many hours doing a photo sessions…making photographs for the illustrator. We had fun, just the two of us, tinkering with food and camera.”

When the Alfred A. Knopf Company first published Julia’s first cookbook effort in 1961, there was no such thing as splashy full color food-porn images as we have today in our cookbooks. However, these superbly drawn images make this book a true classic masterpiece and now a piece of culinary history.

I bought some beautiful artichokes from my local Italian produce market this morning and I wanted to make Julia’s recipe for Artichauts à la Buerre Fondu au Citron for a light dinner.

I looked in my 1961 copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking for the recipe and I was so very impressed by the detailed illustrations to guide me through this dish. As I read, I thought about how these expertly drawn black line drawings probably had helped thousands of other dedicated cooks prepare this very same dish for nearly 50 years.
What an inspiring way to begin cooking this evening...!

Artichauts à la Buerre Fondu au Citron
(Artichokes with melted butter with Lemon)


2 fresh globe artichokes
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces and chilled

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Kosher salt and freshly ground of white pepper to taste.


Trim the artichokes for cooking.
Lay each on its side and cut off about an inch or so off the top, break off the small leaves near the base, and cut off all but an inch of the stem. Snip off the ends of the leaves all around the artichoke with scissors to rid it of any sharp points.
Rinse it well under cold water.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.

Gently boil the artichokes, uncovered, for about half an hour. When the leaves pull out easily and the bottoms are tender when pierced with a knife, they are finished cooking.

While the artichokes are cooking, prepare the lemon butter. Gently reduce the lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small saucepan. Over low heat, whisk in the chilled butter pieces, one at a time, until your sauce is creamy.

Remove from heat, and serve in warmed ramekins.

The edible parts of each leaf are nearest their base. I scrape the soft pulp against my teeth after dipping in the tangy rich buerre fondu au citron. So when you serve the artichokes, provide a large bowl for the inedible part of the leaves.
I love this dish.

So fresh...
So elegant...
So French...
So Julia...
So simple.
So delicious...

Bon appétit…!


Karen said...

What a great post. I am reading "My Life in France" now and also checking out my copy of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and anxiously awaiting the new movie. I loved Julia Child and learned so much from watching her on PBS.

feasting-on-pixels (terrie) said...

Merci beaucoup Karen for such a great comment.

So happy that you liked this post as my love for Julia went into the writing as well as into the research, cooking and photography.

What I love most about following Julia's recipes is her amazing humor and her inpiration to be fearless as she was.
I see she has inspired you as well.

Looks as though all of us Julia-philes will all be united watching this movie and I am sure we will be inspired to follow our culinary dreams.

(insert Julia's voice here...)
Bon appétit…!

p.kilkenny said...

I love the delicious simplicity of the artichoke. It forces one to "slow down" and savor each leaf as all food should be enjoyed! You would make

Anonymous said...

The artichokes sounds excellent! I need to look at some of Julia Child's cookbooks. We recently visited a new Julia Child exhibit in the American history museum - really neat!

jeanette, mistress of longears said...

Julia is in my triumvirate of all-time inspirational women. She yanked the American middle class out of a vat of Cheeze Whiz and into camembert! I was lucky enough to meet her at a booksigning and have picture of us on my workroom wall.

chez aurora said...

what a lovely and delightful post! I adore everything thing about it! Wonderfully inspiring information about Julia .. and your love for her certainly does stand out...I love those old b/w shots from the book and must get my hands on a copy to see more.

And what could be better than your presentation of artichokes ? Fabulous photography! I love your plating and styling with the touch of lemon rind :)

Artichokes are one of my favorite treats from childhood, my mother used to make them stuffed with breadcrumbs, herbs, and grated Romano cheese. And coincidentally enough, I had some steamed baby artichokes for lunch ... sans the delicious buerre fondu au citron though ... :-)

bisous chêre TM I hope you are enjoying your summer days ..


feasting-on-pixels (terrie) said...

Merci mille fois, Pat, Natasha, Jeanette and Barbara for these wondeful comments.
I am so pleased that my long-time love for Julia shows through this blog post.

Julia Child has been my culinary hero since I was a little girl...watching her with my mom, laughing at her "mistakes", enjoying her wonderful humor, delighting in the scrumptious French cuisine and taking in all the knowledge that she had to offer shaped my culinary life.

I was so very lucky to have had the opportunity to meet her in Napa a few years before she passed. That was truly a golden day for me that I won't ever forget.

She has inspired this blog almost a year ago and continues to be an influence in my daily culinary efforts.

cook a recipe that scares you.
Be fearless...and have fun with your food.

You will be surprised (as I was) at what you will find inside you as you tackle that recipe that has haunted you. may have something really delicious to eat in the end.

Julia would have wanted it that way.

(insert Julia's voice here...)
Bon appétit…!

Phil Lowe said...

This looks a really interesting book and I love the appartment pictures at the top of this blog post.

Catherine S said...

Hi, what a great post! I work for the Smithsonian Photography Initiative and I love the photo of Paul taking photos of Julia from The Art of French cooking. Is this photo yours? If so, we would be interested in using it to illustrate an upcoming blog post, and of course, would be glad to link back to your post. Let me know if this is something that would be possible by emailing me at shteynbergc (at)