Several food-related events have converged in my life lately. Most recently, hubster and I went to see the film"Julie and Julia" last night, along with all the other baby-boomers in town who remembered watching the original Julia Child on tv when we were youngsters, and felt we needed to pay homage to those memories in some form. (The college kids, who all arrived for fall semester last weekend, flocked to the violent scary things at our local metroplex. Really, the disparity was quite noticeable : 30 and unders drew long lines to see "Halloween 2", "The Final Destination", or"The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard" while all the folks streaming in to see "Julie and Julia" in our tiny little theater at the giant multiplex were all 40 or older.) My own mother, a wonderful baker but an unenthusiastic chef, tried many recipes from Ms Child's famous cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, back in the 60's and 70's when I was growing up. Mom's version of Julia's boeuf bourguignon came out quite tasty and I was always disappointed that she did not make it more often. (I think mom's Baptist upbringing made her feel guilty about cooking with wine.) Mom's version of Julia's chocolate cake, covered in sliced almonds, was wonderful, too. Why did she spend so much time cooking greasy baked chicken, swimming in BBQ sauce and margarine, that routinely made me gag ? The world will never know.
"Julie and Julia" has received much press for Meryl Streep's incredible impersonation of the famous chef, most notably her quavering voice. The films was as I expected : charming, a bit too long on the modern section (Amy Adam's angsting over what she was cooking and the meaning of her life) ; we all wanted more of the older narrative about Julia Child learning to cook and struggling to get her cookbook written. The film came in a little over 2 hours and not once did I look at my watch or wonder if I needed to leave to run to the ladies room. I was entertained and that's all I really ask of a film these days.
I've read a string of books lately through various book clubs that deal with the topics of food, the world of gourmet cooking and foodies, selecting better quality foods to eat, living in France, or all of the above. (See "Summer Reading" on this blog for more info.) Had a conversation with a gf on facebook recently about cooking coq au vin, after her attempt did not turn out well, and I shared with her my fool-proof recipe for it that never fails to taste good to me, esp on a cold winter's day after a wretched day at work; I make mine in a crock pot and coming home to this comforting dish never fails to delight. While I do not claim to be the world's greatest chef or anything, I do cook a quite a bit ( compared to most people I know) and share recipes and cooking ideas with friends. I surprised myself with the sudden realization that I have not included recipes on this blog, (perhaps b/c I keep them to myself ? trade secrets?) So, to start a new topic, here goes :
My neighborhood has lots of parties, dinner or otherwise, and this is one of the most-requested items. It is quick and easy to make ahead and sure-fire crowd pleaser :
1 fresh baguette
1 tub pesto ( or make your own)
3-4 Roma tomatoes
ground or shredded Parmesan cheese
Don't substitute any of the ingredients, ( for ex, other tomatoes are too large or too small, other types of bread not stiff enough to stand up to this recipe and will get soggy on you)
Preheat oven (or toaster oven) to 350 . Slice baguette into approx 1/3 inch thick slices, making little "rounds"out of the loaf. Use a cookie sheet or cake pan ( cover with foil first , for easy clean up) and lay bread slices in close rows across the sheet. Wash and slice Roma tomatoes into thin slices, as many as possible. Pick up each little "round" or bread slice, cover with thin layer of pesto. Place one thin slice of tomato on top, set down on cooking platter. When all the little bread slices are completed this way, sprinkle all with Parmesan rather heavily. (You can experiment and also use shredded mozzarella, reggiano, etc.) Bake until light golden brown around the edges (you can make this hours ahead, and wait till the last minute to toss in the oven) and what you have are little gourmet "mini-pizza" appetizers. They are very tasty and go well with alcoholic beverages of all sorts.
Bon Appetit !