Julia's Menus for Special Occasions

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Here are Julia's six exceptional menus for special or hard-to-plan-for occasions

Everything you need to know to make a potentially intimidating social occasion as easy as pie. You can pacify the hungry hordes at a cocktail party with a fabulous spread, painlessly feed a ...
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Here are Julia's six exceptional menus for special or hard-to-plan-for occasions

Everything you need to know to make a potentially intimidating social occasion as easy as pie. You can pacify the hungry hordes at a cocktail party with a fabulous spread, painlessly feed a crowd with a wonderful cassoulet, or dazzle dieting guests with a genuinely low-calorie feast. It's all here.

The six menus vary from light, summery fare to luscious banquets:
Birthday Dinner (featuring roast duck with cracklings and ending with an apricor-filled torte)

Lo-Cal Banquet (including Angosoda cocktail, chicken bouillabaisse with rouille, and caramel-crowned steam-baked apples)

Cocktail Party (puff pastry tarts, Peking wings, oysters, clams, buttered radishes, and more)

Cassoulet for a Crowd (a consomme au Porto and a cassoulet of beans baked with goose, lamb, and sausages, followed by cool pineapple slices)

A Vegetarian Caper (spaghetti squash tossed with eggplant persillade and a gateau of crepes layered with veggies and cheese)

Buffet Dinner (savory appetizers followed by potato gnocchi, old-fashioned country ham, and fresh vegetables a la Grecque, and as a finale an orange Bavarian torte and sliced strawberries with orange liqueur)

Julia's inimitable voice guides the home cook through recipes step-by-step, helping compile shopping lists and making suggestions for leftovers after the party's done.

With 120 full-color photographs

This book and its companion—Julia's Delicious Little Dinners feature the finest recipes from Julia Child & Company and Julia Child & More Company
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641513794
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/2/1998
  • Pages: 114
  • Product dimensions: 8.85 (w) x 11.39 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Julia Child
Julia Child
Before celebrity chefs like Emeril and Nigella came onto the culinary scene, Julia Child was teaching America how to flambé. When her groundbreaking television program, The French Chef, came into our kitchens, thousands of viewers tuned in to watch Julia flip crepes, blanch beans, and sear steaks, and to hear her signature sign-off: "Bon appétit!"


If leeks, shallots, and sea salt are available at your local supermarket, you probably have Julia Child to thank for it. At a time when many home cooks had nothing more ambitious in their repertoires than Jell-O salad, Child revolutionized the American kitchen, demonstrating that with good ingredients and a few French techniques, even the novice chef could turn out bistro-worthy dinners of boeuf bourguignon and tarte Tatin.

Child's interest in teaching techniques, rather than simply listing fancy recipes, was evident from her first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which took years of collaboration (with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle) and experimentation to write. Craig Claiborne, reviewing the book for The New York Times in 1961, wrote: "Probably the most comprehensive, laudable, and monumental work on [French cuisine] was published this week, and it will probably remain the definitive work for nonprofessionals." He was right -- it's been a top seller ever since.

To promote the book, the Cordon Bleu–trained Child made an appearance on WGBH in Boston. Not content merely to talk about cooking, she brought along eggs, a hot plate, and a whisk, and demonstrated the proper way to make an omelette. The station producers recognized a potential star, and Child's first television show, The French Chef, was born. Soon thousands of viewers were tuning in to watch Julia flip crepes, blanch beans, and sear steaks. Each show ended with her signature sign-off: "Bon appétit!"

Since then, Child has hosted hundreds of television episodes, and her cookbooks have continued to be both inspiring and practical. Volume two of Mastering the Art of French Cooking was followed by titles like The Way to Cook, Cooking with Master Chefs and Julia's Kitchen Wisdom. Child also co-founded the American Institute of Wine and Food, an educational organization devoted to gastronomy. Many top-flight professional and celebrity chefs -- including Alice Waters, Emeril Lagasse, and Thomas Keller -- have cited Julia Child as an inspiration. "My own copy of volume one [of French Cooking] is so worn that the duct tape holding it together looks natural," chef Jasper White once noted.

Still, Child remains best known for bringing good food into the home, where she championed "food as an art form, as a delightful part of civilized life." And though she's expanded her range to include American, Mediterranean, and Asian cuisines, she hasn't been influenced by fad diets or fat phobias. She still cooks with butter and cream. As she told Nightline, "Small helpings, no seconds, a little bit of everything, no snacking and have a good time. I think if you follow that, you're going to be healthy, wealthy and wise."

Good To Know

During World War II, Julia McWilliams served in the Office of Strategic Services -- the forerunner of the CIA -- in Ceylon and China, where she met Paul Child. After the war, the two married and moved to Paris, where Julia Child fell in love with French food. Years later, she could still recount her first meal in Paris, which included oysters, scallops in cream sauce, and duck.

After Child moved from her Cambridge, Massachusetts, house to a retirement community in California, she donated her famous kitchen -- where three of her television series were taped -- to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Child stands tall at a statuesque 6' 2".

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    1. Also Known As:
      Julia McWilliams (maiden name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 5, 1912
    2. Place of Birth:
      Pasadena, California
    1. Date of Death:
      August 12, 2004
    2. Place of Death:
      Santa Barbara, California

Read an Excerpt

1 cup (2 dL) white wine, or half wine or dry white vermouth and water, or water only
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ lemon
6 cooking apples (Golden Delicious or others that will keep their shape)
4 or more Tb sugar
4Maraschino cherries
½ cup (1 dL) sugar
3 Tb water
Stick cinnamon

Get a steaming rack, now available almost anywhere. It's perfect for most fruits and vegetables, though not for rice. The kind I like doesn't work for pudding, either, since it is lifted out of the pot by a vertical center handle. It's made of stainless steel and consists of a round perforated bottom dish standing on folding legs an inch or so high. Hinged around the circumference of the disk is a series of perforated flaps that fold inward for storage and outward, against the edge of the saucepan, when the steamer is in use.

Into a saucepan large enough to hold steamer and apples comfortably with a cover, put the liquid, vanilla, cinnamon, and several strips of lemon peel, adding water if necessary so you have ½ inch (1 ½ cm) liquid in the pan for the steaming operation. Wash and core the apples, and peel half the way down from blossom (small) end, dropping peel into saucepan with steaming liquid--to give added flavor and body to it for later. Place steamer in pan and the apples, peeled ends up, upon it. Squeeze the juice of the half lemon over the apples, and sprinkle on as much sugar as you think appropriate for the apples you are using. Bring to the simmer, cover the pan closely, and regulate heat so that liquid is barely simmering--too intense a steam will cause the apples to disintegrate--and keep checking on their progress. They shouldbe done in 15 to 20 minutes, when you can pierce them easily with a small knife.
        Apples may be cooked a day or more ahead and served cold.
        Set the apples on a serving dish or on individual plates or bowls. Remove steamer from pan; boil down the cooking liquid rapidly until lightly syrup, sweeten to taste, and strain over the apples. Decorate each with a maraschino cherry.
The caramel
Shortly before serving, prepare a caramel syrup. Bring ½ cup (1 dL) sugar and 3 tablespoons water to the boil in a small, heavy saucepan, then remove from heat and swirl pan until all sugar has dissolved and liquid is clear--an essential step in sugar-boiling operations, to prevent sugar from crystallizing. Then return to heat, bring again to the boil, cover, and boil rapidly for a minute or so until bubbles are large and thick, indicating that liquid has almost evaporated. Remove cover and boil, swirling pan gently by its handle but never never stirring, until syrup turns a nice, not-too-dark caramel brown. Immediately set bottom of pan in cold water and stir with a spoon for a few seconds until caramel cools slightly and begins to thicken. It should ooze off the spoon in lazy, thick strands. This is important, because if you put it on the apples too soon, when it's too hot or too thin, it'll just slide off onto the dish. Rapidly decorate the apples with strands of syrup dripped over them from tip of spoon, waving it over them in a circular spiral to make attractive patterns.

To clean the caramel pan and the spoon easily, simply fill pan with water and set to simmer for a few minutes to dissolve all traces of caramel.

The dessert can be made with pears instead of apples. It can be lightened by omitting the caramel, or enriched by passing, separately, a bowl of custard sauce or lightly whipped cream.
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  • Posted July 2, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    Here are Julia's six exceptional menus for special or hard-to-plan-for occasions

    Everything you need to know to make a potentially intimidating social occasion as easy as pie. You can pacify the hungry hordes at a cocktail party with a fabulous spread, painlessly feed a crowd with a wonderful cassoulet, or dazzle dieting guests with a genuinely low-calorie feast. It's all here.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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