There were no leftovers in the fridge. We were too tired to cook. The table was covered in take-out menus and NOTHING was catching our attention. We were exhausted, hungry and couldn’t find or agree upon any food to fulfill our cravings.
My boyfriend, Benjamin, and I had just returned from skiing. I stared blankly at Northampton’s take out offerings. Everything was overpriced or I had eaten there too often. To make matters worse Benjamin flipped on Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations”, a show that is plain evil when you are hungry or filled with wanderlust (both of which described me).
There was Anthony gallivanting about Paris. Ten minutes in I caught both Benjamin and me salivating and on the verge of drooling. That ripe, oozing cheese looked so damn luscious. I wanted to jump through the screen, rip that delicious meat away from Anthony or Eric Ripert and scarf it down like some deprived, crazed wolf. My stomach started screaming. Benjamin jumped to his feet. “This is freaking Food Porn. I want all of it.” Next thing I knew I was in the car and off to Whole Foods Market for our own night of Food Porn. Our mission: Buy ingredients to fulfill our guiltiest food pleasures of the moment.
Forty dollars and an hour later, we were back in the kitchen with a veritable array of ingredients. The wine was open, the food was coming in waves and my hunger woos were cured. Benjamin and I were laughing and smiling like crazed fools. I have always known that cooking makes me happy but something hit me that night. Benjamin noticed too:
The cook in action
“I haven’t seen you this happy in a long time! Why don’t you just cook all the time? You enjoy it. Those around you enjoy it. It is a win-win scenario. Whatever happened to that food, travel and agriculture blog you were going to start? ”
“There are way to many food blogs. Every bored woman or hipster with a keyboard and the munchies has one. Damn whiny Julie Powell already laid claim to writing about Julia.”
“Who cares?! Write it for yourself!” With that Benjamin shoved some caramelized onions (Ben’s absolute guilty food pleasure) in my mouth and effectively muted my other arguments.
So here I am…
I do not know exactly where I am going with this blog but I have thought about creating it often. I will post an explanation of the blog name next. Growing Up Julia is a phrase that has been in my head for a while. Julia Child has been one of my greatest idols and mentors forever. I have grown up with Julia, as though she were by my side, guiding me with her words of wisdom through her books, shows and other materials.
Just to clarify, the name is simply to pay homage to my culinary heroine. I will post some of my favorite recipes and tidbits about Julia, but the blog is not meant to be solely about her. Instead I see Julia Child as the starting point. In fact I think of the following quote of hers as a mission statement of sorts for this blog:
“Learn to cook–try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”
— Julia Child (My Life in France)
So without further ado here is my night of fearless, culinary fun: BEHOLD THE NIGHT OF FOOD PORN:
D'Affinois Cheese with Medjool Dates
First: We had a divine appetizer of D’Affinois Cheese with sliced Medjool dates and toasted bread. Now I have my own luscious cheese, Bourdain! D’Affinois is one of those completely sensual, rich, smooth and incredible cheeses. The dates worked perfectly with the cheese despite my initial doubts.
Second: We picked two of Ben’s favorite comfort foods: Caramelized Onions and Beef. We seasoned some ground Sirloin beef with just salt and pepper and then added in diced onions and chunks of Cheddar Cheese. Once they were cooked, we topped them off with some caramelized onions and more cheese and served them on grilled
Mini Sirloin Burgers with Caramelized Onions and Cheddar
sourdough with Tierenteyn mustard.
Third: Time for pasta, which is easily in my top 5 favorite foods. I love making it. I love eating it. Simply put, it is God to me. No low-carb diets for this girl! A great sauce is a must for fresh pasta. We created our own take on a Primavera theme. We made the sauce with garlic, asparagus, Chanterelle mushrooms, tomatoes, butter, cream and plenty of Parmesan cheese. The Chanterelle mushrooms added a delightful smoky aroma to the tomato based cream sauce. It added an extra depth and dimesnsion that is normally absent in many versions of this dish. The kick from the red pepper made sure that there was just the right amount of heat to balance out the cream and cheese.
Asparagus waiting to be chopped
- A good bunch of asparagus, tough ends snapped off and then cut into 1” – 2” pieces.
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup of Chanterelle mushrooms (or as many as your heart desires)
- 2 large tomatoes, cored and then diced into chunks
- Red Pepper flakes to taste
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 pound fresh fettucine
- 2 large cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
- Lots of Parmesan cheese grated and added to taste
. 1. Bring water to boil in large stockpot for pasta; add 2 Tbl salt. Fill a large bowl with ice water; set aside.
. 2. Add cut asparagus to boiling water in pot; cook 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon drain out the asparagus pieces and immediately transfer them into ice water bath to stop cooking; let sit until chilled, about 3 minutes. Drain well and set aside. Reserve the boiling water for the pasta.
. 3. Heat 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat until foamy in a saucepan. Add Chanterelle mushrooms and sauté until the flavor begins to fill your kitchen, 5 – 7 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and red pepper flakes, reduce heat to low, and simmer until tomatoes begin to lose their shape. Add cream and simmer until slightly thickened. Transfer to a bowl, set aside and cover.
. 4. Add fresh pasta to boiling water until pasta is al dente (it will float to the surface and should be done in about 3 minutes. ALWAYS test to make sure it is cooked the way you like before draining).
. 5. While the pasta is cooking add the remaining butter in the saucepan and heat until foamy. Add the garlic and sauté until the neighbors are banging at your door because of the amazing aroma about 1 minute. Next add the asparagus and cook until heated through and riddled with garlic flavor about 2 – 3 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Then add the tomato, mushroom and cream sauce to the pan and bring it back to temperature.
. 6. When the pasta is done, drain and add back to now-empty stockpot. Pour the sauce into the pot with pasta and toss well to coat over low heat. Serve portions into bowls and immediately cover with a decadent coating of Parmesan cheese.