“Gratin de Pommes for Julia on a Summer’s Evening”

“Gratin de Pommes de Terre Provencal”
(“Scalloped Potatoes with Onions, Tomatoes, Anchovies, Herbs & Garlic”, page 525-526  “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, Volume One, Fortieth Anniversary Edition, by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck, New York, Alfred A. Knopf 2008)
 I realized last week when Julia Child would have been 100 years old that I have never actually cooked any of her recipes.  I do own quite a few of her cookbooks.  I have always used her books as reference books, not as cooking books.
So in honor of Julia’s 100 birthday I pulled out my copy of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and followed her recipe for “Gratin de Pommes de Terre Provencal”.
The results? A light scalloped potato dish, speckled with fresh seeded tomatoes sautéed with onions, an anchovy-garlic paste & fresh thyme, dusted on the top with freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano and baked until golden brown and bubbly. No cream or butter to  cover up the taste of the vegetables, just a wonderful freshness that emphasized the creaminess of the potatoes & spiciness of the other ingredients, all complimenting each other perfectly.
The original recipe is not at all complicated or fussy. I have taken the liberty to give the recipe in my own words to make it “blog friendly”.
2 cups thinly sliced onions
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 1/2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded & juiced (This is the only change I made, I did not peel the Heirloom Tomatoes I used)
1/4 tsp salt
6 canned anchovies, packed in olive oil & drained
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/4 tsp basil, 1/4 tsp thyme (both fresh & chopped)
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 lbs boiled potatoes, sliced thinly
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Swiss Cheese
 1 tsp olive oil
1. Cook onions in 2 tbsp olive oil slowly together until tender but not browned. Cut seeded tomatoes into strips & gently stir into the onions. Set aside
2. In a small bowl, mash the anchovies, garlic, herbs, pepper & 2 tbsp olive oil into a paste-like mixture.
3.  Spread 1/4 of tomato-onion mixture in the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Layer on top,  1/2 of the sliced potatoes, half the anchovy mixture and 1/2 of the remaining tomato-onion mixture. Layer on remaining potato slices & anchovy mixture, topping with remaining tomato-onion mixture. Sprinkle cheese & 1 tsp olive oil over the top.
4. Bake in middle of an oven preheated to 400 degrees for about 35-40 minutes. If top begins to brown too much, cover loosely with foil. Serve.
A heartfelt & belated “Bon Anniversaire” Julia.

“Hiding Behind Julia..A Week in Postcards”

Postcard #1  ” Mother’s Day Sunday Teacup with Tulips”

Hey, all you sons and daughters…email, call, text, Skype, carrier pigeon a message to your Mother, or someone else’s Mother to tell them how much you appreciate them..It may be a so-called “Hallmark Holiday” but it’s the only one dedicated to all us Mothers…no cards necessary.

Postcard #2 “Hiding Behind Julia”

My friend Rory White sent me this amazing photograph…(he is a great photographer, artist, musician and all round interesting person..check out his blog if you don’t believe me at http://rorywhite.com/blog/)

Imagine you are one of the folks who hid behind Julia on the set of her show… handing up the ingredients for a cassoulet, steak Diane or chunks of dark chocolate..who are you? How did you come to be in that place at that time in history? What was your next career move? Are you still out there basking in the light? Did you realize she would be  the “Mother of TV Cooking” when you were there?

Postcard #3 “Beer Friday”

Some weeks are like that…long, hard, fun and frenzied…then it’s Friday..Beer Friday. How do you punctuate the end of your work week?

Postcard #4 “There Is No Way I Am Cooking-No Cooking Required, Garden Salad”

These are wax beans from our little garden…I had been testing a watermelon-cucumber salad for a photo shoot…I steamed the beans, picked a few more vegetables from the garden, added them to my “shoot” salad…no cooking required. Do you have some simple go-to, no-cook summer recipes that you love?

“Watermelon, Cucumber Garden Salad”

Ingredients: Ripe Watermelon cut into chunks

English Cucumber, seeded & sliced

Fresh mint leaves

Juice of one lime

sea salt & cracked black pepper

2 small golden beets thinly sliced

a handful of fresh wax beans, shelled

3 young fresh carrots, thinly sliced

1 mango peeled & cut into chunks


1. Mix everything in a large salad bowl, chill and eat.

Postcard #5 “A Mother-load of Pretty Saucers”

I  pondered these pretty saucers for while before choosing just the right one for a slice of pie I was styling for a cookbook. I love these random designs that I pick up from flea markets & yard sales, don’t you?

Postcard #6  “Working & Strolling Chicago Tulips”

After work stroll along Michigan Avenue…window shopping. Tulips seems to be a recurring theme in my life..much like my Buddhas. Have you noticed how your life can be full of “themes” you might not even be aware of?

Postcard #7  “A Kitchen Clean”

If I remember correctly our kitchen was clean for a while this week…otherwise it was covered with recipe pages, measuring cups, dirty dishes, food on the floor and in bowls…my work life is very messy so when my kitchen finally looks like this I feel very “zen”. What are some ordinary, homey things that make you feel serene?

Postcard #8  “Any Sunday Morning”

My perfect Sunday morning is coffee in bed (compliments of Wouter), newspaper, book, phone (for texting only) and a few hours to ruminate about everything. This is my weekly gift to myself, my ritual. It is necessary for starting a new week sedately. Do you “treat” yourself with some simple rituals to keep your life balanced? I hope so.