Kalamata Olive Tapenade Recipe

kalamata_tapenade

In this edition of things-that-taste-better-homemade, I humbly submit tapenade. For such a simple thing (a whirred mix of olives, garlic and other aromatics) it’s hard to understand how store-bought versions can be so bad. And yet, they are. Over-the-counter tapenade … Continue reading

Sweet Potato Latkes (or A Lesson on Imperfection)

sweet potato latkes

Making latkes is a study on imperfection and patience. Also, the task will make you smell like a short-order cook (your significant other will wonder why you smell so tasty…like hot french fries).  But don’t let that scare you away … Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Julia Child

Below is a blog post I put together for Julia’s 100th birthday last year. Today, for her 101st birthday, this all still rings so true so I thought I would share it here. Enjoy the video!! Sometimes I play this video when I just need a good smile. It never disappoints.

julia1

When I was a child, there was a period of time when we lived in the country and only got a couple TV channels. The local broadcast (Channel 50 for any Sonoma County alumns) and PBS. So my choices after school  were reruns of Hogan’s HerosI Dream of Genie or whatever fundraising drive was on PBS. Clearly I Dream of Geniewas the best choice in that line up.  I remember one day flicking past PBS and hearing a deep and joyful laugh that caught my attention. It was a woman, smiling and laughing at a stove. It was Julia Child and I loved her immediately.

I was 12 and was already an accomplished eater (no picky-kid-food-only in our house) and a curious and ambitious cook (regularly made dinner for our family). For me, the kitchen was a place where curiosity took form in delicious food. And I was one curious child so the kitchen was my happy place. So when I saw Julia Child, man-handling a chicken, comfortable, in charge and having fun, it reinforced what was already beginning to know: that if you allow cooking to be carefree and you know how to get the most out a few simple ingredients, you will make delicious food. And when you serve your family (or anyone, really), delicious food, you are passing on a bit of your joy to them and for this, your table will never be empty.

Once I discovered Julia, I was hooked. I tuned in regularly. I learned how to make a perfect omelette (plenty of butter, not too much egg in the pan, and SHAKE….20 seconds is all you need), a humble and sublime roast chicken (trussing is key) the trick to delicious roasted potatoes (fat, of course!). I look back now and realize that I was becoming the chef I am today in those moments. Julia says a great chef is made by “training and techniques….a great love of food…and a generous personality.” I don’t know if I’m a “great chef” but I do know that I was born with a deep love food and that a childhood filled of taking care of others has made me a generous spirit. But as for the culinary training and techniques? I began my education sitting on the carpet in front of a black and white TV looking up to one of the best culinary teachers of our time….am I am a better chef and educator for it.

Here’s a fun, modern spin on so many of the things I love about Julia Child. You’ll be singing “Cook and cook and keep on cooking…this is the way to live!” by the end of the video. Happy Birthday, Julia!