julia child, mastering the art of french cooking, julie powell, french cuisine

Leave the Gun, Take the Pommes Normande

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“It’s fun to get together and have something good to eat at least once a day. That’s what human life is all about — enjoying things.” – Julia Child

Last night was a fun time at the Edwards house. We had some friends over for a “Godfather” night – Ben made his signature spaghetti supper (with a 3-meat sauce recipe he pulled from the movie itself!) and we watched the first “Godfather” movie. We planned to start around 6:30, and Shelby was the first to show up. While Ben put the finishing touches on his sauce, Shelby and I hung out at the kitchen bar chatting about this blog and how things were going, what ingredients I’ve had a hard time finding, etc. It was nice to hear from someone in person who’s been following along on this culinary adventure. Not long after, Ben B. and Vivienne arrived, and we poured drinks, stood around talking, and finally were ready to serve up the pasta.

Cooking apple slices

We had a pretty tasty salad, followed by Ben’s spaghetti with thick slices of warm rustic durum bread, and of course lots of wine. Lots. of wine. Despite the fact that none of these recipes was from MtAoFC, dinner was great, just as I knew it would be. And to finish it all off, I made a Julia dessert:
Pommes Normande en Belle Vue (applesauce caramel mold) with Creme Anglaise (custard sauce). While the recipe took a bit of time to prepare, overall it was actually pretty easy to make. It began with peeling and coring about 4 lbs. of red apples and slicing them into 1/8″ pieces. I plopped them into a big pan and cooked them on the stove for about 20 minutes until they were nice and tender. (By the way, do you have any idea how good warm apples smell? If this were sold in the form of a perfume, I would definitely buy it.)

Next, I beat cinnamon, sugar and the grated peel of a lemon into the apples. I have to say, just between you and me, there’s nothing much stranger than seeing a naked lemon. (Side story: As I was grating the lemon peel, the smell reminded me of a time when I was young and ate an entire bag of lemon drops…a decision I immediately regretted. To this day, the smell of lemon makes me a little queasy.) Forging ahead, I put the mixture back on the stove and mixed it until it gained the consistency of a puree. Taking it back off the heat, I added cognac, eggs and an egg white.

Caramel-lined mold (couldn't find a cylindrical mold, so this had to do)

I worked on making a caramel sauce to line the mold in which the apple mixture would be baked. I anticipated this to be the hardest step of the entire recipe – from past experience, I know how easy it is to burn a caramel sauce, so I expected it to take a couple of tries. And I was right. The first time, I poured some sugar and a little bit of water into a pan over the stove and stirred it carefully. I must have waited too long, because all of a sudden, the liquid in the pan turned into a paste and was instantly useless. I dumped it out and started over. This time, I took the liquid off the heat early, poured it into my mold and tilted the pan until the inside was well coated with the caramel. Then, I tipped the pan upside down and set it on a plate so the extra sauce would cover the rest of the walls of the pan.

Ready for the oven

I poured the apple mixture into the mold, then set it inside a pot with boiling water and put the whole thing in a 400 degree oven for about an hour and a half. As a topping for the dessert, I followed Julia’s recommendation and made a custard sauce. I beat sugar and egg yolks together in a pan, then added some boiling milk. I poured it all into a clean pan and put it back on the stove until it had thickened; finally, I took it off the heat and added in some vanilla extract, giving one last mix with the whisk.

Artistically delicious

When the apples were done in the oven, I pulled out the pan and removed the mold from the pot of water. I let it cool for about 20 minutes, then inverted its contents onto a serving dish. I drizzled the custard sauce over the top and served it to our guests. Final results? SUCCESS!! The dessert got two thumbs up – the texture was like a combination of apple pie and bread pudding. There was just a hint of lemon from the grated peel, which worked well in juxtaposition (whoa, bust out your thesaurus!) with the super-sweet custard sauce. (Trust me when I tell you that a little of this sauce goes a long way.) If you like cinnamon-apple treats, you’d really enjoy this dish. And did I mention it was really easy to make?? (Of course, don’t tell your guests that – tell them you slaved over a hot stove all day just for them. You’re sure to get rave reviews that way.)

Good food with good friends.

We had a really fun night with our friends. This just goes to show that food really does bring people together. The next time you want to get your friends together, do what we did…make them an offer they can’t refuse.

-Jessica

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