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

I’m Here All Week! Try the Veal!

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“If you don’t have an egg ring, you can use a cat food can, if you’re so fortunate as to have a pussycat.” – Julia Child

Ellie the super kitten

Over the weekend, Ben and I decided to expand our family…we got a kitten. Four years ago we adopted Gracie the wonder cat, and due to our busy schedules we’ve always wondered whether we ought to get her a friend to keep her company. Ellie the super kitten has certainly been keeping her on her toes. The transition is going as well as can be expected – moderate amounts of hissing and playful batting from Gracie, nobody is hiding under the bed anymore, and we even caught the two of them eating from the same food dish. Last night Gracie came and snuggled with me on the couch for a few minutes, so I think she’s past the “What have you done??” phase and has accepted that this new little orange ball of fluff is here to stay.

I tell you all of this because I want you to know…it is really hard to cook a Julia Child dinner with a kitten climbing up your leg. Last night’s dinner was Escalopes de veau a la Creme (sauteed veal sallops with mushrooms and cream) with Fonds d’Artichauts au Beurre (buttered artichoke bottoms, whole) and some buttered rice. As I stood over the stove, sauteing mushrooms for the cream sauce, I juggled Ellie who was literally climbing up my pants leg, up my shirt and onto my shoulder so she could get a closer look at what I was doing. All I could picture was her leaping into my saute pan and the mayhem that would ensue.

Veal Cutlets

The veal was easy to cook. I bought four veal cutlets and dried them with paper towels, then cooked them in a pan with butter and oil. Once they were brown on both sides, I set them on a plate and used the juices left in the pan to make the cream sauce. I added minced green onion to the pan, then poured in some wine and beef stock and brought it to a boil. Some cream and cornstarch helped thicken the sauce, and a little salt and pepper gave it some added flavor. Lastly, I scraped the sauteed mushrooms into the sauce and set the veal patties into the pan, basting them with the creamy sauce. It looked and smelled delicious!

Artichokes take a little more time and effort, as they need to be prepped before actually cooking. I broke off the stems and tore off some of the bottom leaves until I could see where the artichoke bottom ended. I cut off the top cone of leaves and shaved off any remaining green tips around the base. These went into a boiling pot of flour, water and lemon juice and simmered for about 30 minutes. When they were soft, I took them out, scooped out the choke from the center and they were finally ready for the main recipe.

Cream Sauce and Mushrooms

I seasoned the bottoms with salt and pepper and melted some butter in a casserole dish. Setting the artichoke bottoms upside-down in the pot, I basted them with the melted butter, covered them with buttered wax paper and put them in a 325 degree oven for about 20 minutes. While they cooked, I made some instant rice (in case the artichokes weren’t a big hit).

When Ben got home, all I had to do was cover the pan with the veal and cream sauce and bring it to a simmer for about five minutes. A scoop of rice, a veal cutlet topped with sauce, and a single artichoke bottom went on each plate (now that I know how small an artichoke bottom is, I would definitely make more per person). The veal tasted great, but was surprisingly tough. I don’t know if that’s how it’s supposed to be, or if the cutlets cooked too long while I wrestled Ellie from my leg, but either way, the flavor was outstanding. (I can’t tell you enough how good Julia’s cream sauces are!) The mushrooms in the sauce were perfect – you could hardly see them, but you sure could taste them. Delish!

The artichoke bottoms were surprisingly good. They were really tender and light, a little thick on the outside but soft on the inside. Ben commented that this was his favorite way we’ve eaten artichokes so far. I could see how these would be a substantial vegetable side dish (had I made more of them), and I would definitely make them again.

Veal with Cream Sauce, Rice and Artichoke Bottoms

All in all, this was a good dinner! Not my favorite (again, the toughness of the veal just didn’t appeal to me, despite the yummy flavor) but good nonetheless. Tomorrow we’re having sole with julienne vegetables, leftover rice and broccoli with hollandaise sauce.

Stay tuned for more adventures from the kitchen!

-Jessica

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