Julia Child’s great-nephew Alex Prud’homme with his new book
Julia Child often said: “I was born hungry!” She had an appetite for life and sharing a love of good food was her consuming passion. She was North America’s first TV celebrity chef and her great-nephew Alex Prud’homme had a front-row seat.
Alex Prud’homme, the grandson of Julia’s husband Paul Child’s twin brother Charles, has written books about biotechnology, terrorism and fracking. But, among food lovers, he’s best known for co-authoring “My Life in France”- Julia Child’s memoir of Paris and Provence in the late 1940s and early ‘50s. Alex’s new book “The French Chef in America: Julia Child’s Second Act” picks up Julia’s story as she rose to stardom at home in North America.
Julia was my beloved friend and mentor. I first met her in April, 1991, when she came to Toronto for a day as guest of my newspaper: the Toronto Star. I was in touch with her until a few weeks before she died in August, 2004. The last letter I received contained two recipes for Tarte Tatin, a dessert I was trying to perfect.
I regularly make her famous Cheese Souffle. These are two staples of hers in my cooking repertoire.
This is Julia’s stove-top version from her favourite book (and mine): The Way to Cook. The classic rendition is baked in the oven and unmoulded like a cake. It uses clarified butter; I don’t think it’s necessary. I use half butter and half vegetable oil. This is easier and has the same delicious, visually attractive result. Use starchy potatoes such as russet. Julia offers the option of adding sliced or grated Swiss cheese between layers of potatoes.
2 1/2 lb/1 kg potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced
1/3 to 1/2 cup melted butter (or combo of butter and vegetable oil)
4 oz/125g Swiss cheese, cut into slices 1/8″ thick (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
Pour 1/4 inch of butter/oil into a 9- inch skillet over medium heat.
Rapidly arrange overlapping slices of potato in a single layer.
Brush with a sprinkling of butter/oil and cover with cheese slices.
Repeat layers, seasoning each with salt and pepper.
Cook 3 to 5 minutes over medium-high heat to be sure bottom is crusting.
Reduce heat to low. Cover skillet; cook about 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced with fork.
Run spatula around edge of skillet. Cover skillet with an inverted plate; turn over to unmould potatoes.
Makes about 6 servings.
Lemon Loaf Cake
From Baking with Julia by Julia Child. You can serve this cake as soon as it cools, although there are those who believe that a pound cake needs a day to ripen. I like this crowned with a tart icing: While cake is till warm, poke holes in top with a skewer. Melt 1/3 cup granulated sugar with 1/3 cup lemon juice in small saucepan; pour over cake.
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
Grated zest of 3 large lemons
1 3/4 cups cake and pastry flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup whipping (35%) cream, at room temperature
5 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature.