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

A Tale of Three Recipes: Story 3


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“Tears mess up your makeup.” – Julia Child

And now, the exciting conclusion of our epic tale: “Triple D: D is for Disaster”…

Story 3: Feeling a Little Deflated
Between the lamb stew disaster and the Apple Charlotte flop, I was about to give up entirely on my final culinary task for the night: Galettes au Fromage (cheese wafers). And yet, I couldn’t. I’d made it this far, and my stubborn will power wouldn’t let me throw in the towel…so to speak.

Wafer Dough

While the apple dessert had been cooking, I had already begun mixing the dough for these little snacks. I kneaded grated Swiss cheese, butter, flour and some seasoning until it formed a dough, then I rolled a tablespoon-sized ball in my hands, set it on my Silpat-covered cookie sheet and flattened it with the heel of my hand. I did this for the remainder of the dough, then brushed the tops of the wafers with beaten egg and topped each one with a pinch of grated Swiss.

Just before going in the oven.

I popped them into the 425 degree oven for about ten minutes and got off my feet, cursing myself for ever having dared to attempt all of these recipes in one night – especially when I had gotten a later start than planned. It was about this time that I made a promise to myself that the next time I find myself in the predicament of a shortage of time, I will let one recipe go. Nobody would notice if the cheese wafers or the Apple Charlotte – or even the lamb stew, for that matter – weren’t on stand-by in the kitchen for a potentially hungry guest. Instead, I will take the advice of my husband and scratch the recipe altogether, opting for Taco Bell and relaxation instead. Because this marathon cooking? It’s for the birds.

When I took the wafers out of the oven, I determined I was pretty much par for the course. While Julia describes these as “featherweight wafers” that should “spread slightly, puff lightly, and brown”, I somehow did not yield such results. For starters, my wafers were completely flat…there was no sign of even a hint of puffiness to these cakes. Additionally, they were kind of chewy and really greasy. But they were done!

This is how they're supposed to turn out. Lovely!

After letting them cool on a rack for awhile, I picked one up and took a bite, and was at least glad to discover they weren’t entirely awful. The edges had turned a golden color, but the middles were still pretty soft. The Swiss cheese flavor was overpowering, and the pinch of cayenne gave them a little bite that I could have done without. Overall, not my favorite snack, but then again, it’s possible I wasn’t completely open-minded at this point, either.

All in all, this cooking experience was a bit of a whipping. Three recipes and none of them turned out just right? Frustrating. I will say that the end result of the stew was delicious; the Apple Charlotte was a complete failure; and the cheese wafers were mediocre, but pass-able. Moral of the story? When it comes to cooking, it’s okay to draw a line at some point.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

As you can imagine, I gave myself last night off to regroup and come back this week with a strategy and a renewed sense of energy. We had the leftover stew, and it was even better the second time around because all of those flavors really had time to meld together. Yum! Tonight’s dinner will be a new and improved roast chicken with risotto – stay tuned for more adventures in cooking!

– Jessica

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