Earlier this summer, I volunteered to play host to a Julia Child-themed pot luck in celebration of what would have been her 100th birthday. Then I wrote a story about the experience for the World-Herald.
Everyone in our regular pot luck crew stepped up to the challenge, which was to make a Julia Child recipe or a dish inspired by her cooking. I took on three dishes: a roasted pork shoulder using Julia’s Marinade Sèche spice rub; a rocket, roasted beet and orange salad; and the biggest challenge, two pâte brisée tart crusts made from scratch and turned into Pissaladière Niçoise tarts filled with caramelized onions, olives and anchovies.
Here’s the pork roast when it went into the oven, hours before anyone arrived. The pressure was on for this pot luck more than any other I’ve hosted, because not only was the whole thing being photographed for the newspaper, I also was making more complex food than I’d ever tackled. Thankfully, under the guidance of Julia, everything turned out rather miraculously.
I still have a hard time believing that I actually cooked that pork.
Hanging out in the kitchen waiting for the pork to cook.
The beautiful beet and orange salad, above, and the tarts just as I pulled them from the oven.
My sister’s dish, Tomatoes Provençal.
Quentin’s dish, roasted asparagus with onion.
Sara’s chocolate mousse. (Read about the other dessert she made on her blog.)
The Vankat’s fig and pear tart with fennel and almonds.
Special thanks to World-Herald photographer Jim Burnett, who took such beautiful photos of the food and the party. Below, the recipes. Bon Appétit!
(Salt marinade with herbs and spices)
Julia says: Fine for all types of fresh pork. This is our favorite, as it tenderizes the pork and accentuates its natural flavor. Recipe is per pound of pork.
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
¼ teaspoon ground thyme or sage
1/8 teaspoon ground bay leaf
Pinch of allspice
Optional: ½ clove mashed garlic
Mix all the ingredients together and rub them into the surface of the pork. Place in a covered bowl. Turn the meat 2 or 3 times if the marinade is a short one; several times a day if it is of long duration.
Before cooking, scrape off the marinade, and dry the meat thoroughly with paper towels.
Marination times: (If the meat is refrigerated, increase the minimum marination time by at least one third.)
Chops and steaks — a minimum of two hours, six to 12 are even better.
Loin roasts — a minimum of six hours, but 24 are recommended
Fresh hams and picnic shoulders — a minimum of two days, but four to five are more effective
— Adapted from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”
(Onion Tart With Anchovies and Black Olives) Makes 4 to 6 servings
Julia says: This is not a quiche, properly speaking, because it contains no eggs. In Nice it is made either in a pastry shell or in a flat round of bread dough like an Italian pizza.
2 pounds minced onions
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium herb bouquet: 4 parsley sprigs, ¼ teaspoon thyme and ½ bay leaf tied in cheesecloth
2 cloves unpeeled garlic
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
Pinch of ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
1 partially cooked Pâte Brisée tart crust, cooled
8 canned anchovy filets
16 pitted black olives (the dry Mediterranean type)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Cook the onions very slowly in the olive oil with the herb bouquet, garlic and salt for about one hour, or until very tender. Discard herb bouquet and garlic. Stir in cloves and pepper and taste carefully for seasoning.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Spread the onions in the pastry shell. Arrange anchovy filets over it in a fan-shaped design. Place the olives at decorative intervals. Drizzle on the oil. Bake in upper third of the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until bubbling hot.
Pâte Brisée tart crust
1½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch of sugar
6 tablespoons (¾ stick) chilled butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
2 tablespoons plus ¾ teaspoon chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into ½-inch pieces
4 tablespoons (or more) cold water
8-inch-diameter springform pan
Dried beans or pie weights
Whisk flour, salt, and sugar in medium bowl. Add butter and shortening with a wire pastry cutter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 4 tablespoons cold water. Work mixture with fingertips until dough comes together in moist clumps, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic; chill until firm, at least 1 hour.
Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 400 degrees. Roll out dough on floured work surface to 10-inch round. Carefully transfer dough to 8-inch springform pan. Press dough onto bottom and about 1 1/2 inches up sides of pan, pressing to adhere to sides. Fold down and roll 1/2 inch of dough sides inward, forming double-thick edge at top of crust sides. Using dull edge of small knife, make small indentations at 1/2-inch intervals on double-thick edge. Chill 20 minutes.
Line crust with foil; fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake crust until sides of crust are set, about 18 minutes. Remove foil and beans. Pierce bottom of crust all over with fork. Continue to bake until bottom is set and pale golden, about 14 minutes longer. Remove from oven and cool.
— Adapted from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”
Beet, Blood Orange, Walnut and Rocket Salad
For the beets:
2½ pounds fresh beets
1 cup water
Salt and freshly ground pepper
For the vinaigrette dressing:
3 blood oranges (or regular oranges; fresh Mandarin oranges work well. )
1 large shallot
¼ cup sherry wine vinegar
½ cup excellent extra virgin olive oil
2 bunches rocket (arugula), washed and dried
½ cup walnut halves (toasted at 325 F for 8 to 10 minutes)
Special equipment suggested:
8-by-10-inch baking dish
Preparing the beets — 1 hour: Preheat the oven to 375 F. Wash the beets and cut away the tops and tails. Place in the baking dish, pour in water, and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour (or longer), until the beets are tender enough to be pierced easily with a toothpick or small knife. Remove foil, let the beets cool, and then peel them over the sink (their skins will rub off easily). Slice the beets thin; season with salt and pepper if desired.
Preparing the oranges: Grate the zest (orange part of peel) of one orange into a small bowl, being careful not to include any white pith. Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice from one half into the grated zest (set the second half aside in case you need it later). From both ends of the 2 remaining oranges, cut slices deep enough to expose the flesh. Stand each orange on end and neatly slice off strips of skin and pith, from top to bottom, all around, to expose the naked flesh. Cut oranges into thin slices and set aside for the salad.
The vinaigrette: Peel the shallot, cut into fine dice, and stir at once into the orange juice and zest. Add salt. Whisk the vinegar and then the oil into the bowl. Taste carefully and determine if more oil or vinegar is needed, or juice from the reserved orange half. The sauce should be on the acidic side, to balance the sweetness of the oranges and beets.
Serving: Arrange the rocket on the platter. Spoon a few tablespoons of vinaigrette over the beets, toss to coat evenly, and then place artfully on the rocket. Lay orange slices around the platter and scatter walnuts over the top. Spoon on enough vinaigrette to coat the salad. Serve immediately.
— Adapted from “Julia Child: Cooking with Master Chefs”Tweet