Mastering the Art of French Cooking

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Overview

“Anyone can cook in the French manner anywhere,” wrote Mesdames Beck, Bertholle, and Child, “with the right instruction.” And here is the book that, for forty years, has been teaching Americans how.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking is for both seasoned cooks and beginners who love good food and long to reproduce at home the savory delights of the classic cuisine, from the historic Gallic masterpieces
to the seemingly artless perfection of a dish of spring-green peas. This ...
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Overview

“Anyone can cook in the French manner anywhere,” wrote Mesdames Beck, Bertholle, and Child, “with the right instruction.” And here is the book that, for forty years, has been teaching Americans how.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking is for both seasoned cooks and beginners who love good food and long to reproduce at home the savory delights of the classic cuisine, from the historic Gallic masterpieces
to the seemingly artless perfection of a dish of spring-green peas. This beautiful book, with more than one hundred instructive illustrations, is revolutionary in its approach because:

• It leads the cook infallibly from the buying and handling of raw ingredients, through each essential step of a recipe, to the final creation of a delicate
confection.
• It breaks down the classic cuisine into a logical sequence of themes and variations rather than presenting an endless and diffuse catalogue of recipes; the focus is on key recipes that form the backbone of French cookery and lend themselves to an infinite number of elaborations—bound to increase anyone’s culinary repertoire.
• It adapts classical techniques, wherever possible, to modern American conveniences.
• It shows Americans how to buy products, from any supermarket in the U.S.A., that reproduce the exact taste and texture of the French ingredients: equivalent meat cuts, for example; the right beans for a cassoulet; the appropriate fish and shellfish for a bouillabaisse.
• It offers suggestions for just the right accompaniment to each dish, including proper wines.

Since there hasnever been a book as instructive and as workable as Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the techniques learned here can be applied to recipes in all other French cookbooks, making them infinitely more usable. In compiling the secrets of famous cordons bleus, the authors have produced a magnificent volume that is sure to find the place of honor in every kitchen in America.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The book that started it all. When Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the product of nearly a decade of work, was first released in 1961, it started a revolution.

No single cookbook has influenced more chefs or inspired more home cooks to try something ambitious, authentic, and refined on their own. It changed the face of food writing as well, with its precisely detailed instructions and ingredient lists. As Paula Wolfert is quoted as saying in Noël Riley Fitch's biography of Julia Child, "Just as it's been said that all Russian literature has been taken from Gogol's overcoat, so all American food writing has been derived from Julia's apron." A tattered copy of the first edition can be found in just about every baby boomer's kitchen.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780394401553
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/21/1976

Meet the Author

Julia Child

Julia Child, a native of California and a Smith College graduate; Simone Beck, French-born and -educated; and Louisette Bertholle, half French and half American, educated in both countries, represented an even blending of the two backgrounds and were singularly equipped to write about French cooking for Americans. Mrs. Child studied at Paris’s famous Cordon Bleu, and all three authors worked under various distinguished French chefs. In 1951 they started their own cooking school in Paris, L’Ecole des Trois Gourmandes, at the same time that this book was taking shape. After that, Madame Beck published two cookbooks, Simca’s Cuisine in 1972 and New Menus from Simca’s Cuisine in 1979, and she continued to teach cooking in France. Madame Bertholle also had several cookery books published. Shortly after the appearance of Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 1961, Julia Child began appearing in the public television series The French Chef, which aired for many years all over the United States, and in 1978 the program Julia Child & Company was launched, followed the next year by Julia Child & More Company. In 1968 recipes from her early programs, many of which were drawn from this book, were published in The French Chef Cookbook.

In 1975 From Julia Child’s Kitchen was published, followed in 1978 and 1979 by Julia Child & Company and Julia Child & More Company, based on those programs. Also based on television series were the two books—Cooking with Master Chefs and In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs—she wrote in themid-1990s, as well as Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, with Jacques Pépin, in 1999. The Way to Cook, her magnum opus, was published in 1989, and in 2000 she gave us Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom, a distillation of her years of cooking experience.

Biography

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

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I

40th Anniversary Edition
By Julia Child

Knopf

Copyright © 2001 Julia Child
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0375413405

Clafouti (Cherry Flan)

The clafouti (also spelled with a final "s" in both singular and plural) which is traditional in the Limousin during the cherry season is peasant cooking for family meals, and about as simple a dessert to make as you can imagine: a pancake batter poured over fruit in a fireproof dish, then baked in the oven. It looks like a tart, and is usually eaten warm.

(If you have no electric blender, work the eggs into the flour with a wooden spoon, gradually beat in the liquids, then strain the batter through a fine sieve.)

3 cups pitted black cherries

1 1/4 cups milk

2/3 cup granulated sugar

3 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup flour

Powdered sugar in a shaker

For 6 to 8 people

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Use fresh, black, sweet cherries in season. Otherwise use drained, canned, pitted Bing cherries, or frozen sweet cherries, thawed and drained.

Place the milk, 1/3 cup sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, salt, and flour in your blender jar in the order in which they are listed. Cover and blend at top speed for 1 minute.

Pour a 1/4-inch layer of batter in a 7- to 8-cup buttered,fireproof baking dish or pyrex pie plate about 1 1/2 inches deep. Set over moderate heat for a minute or two until a film of batter has set in the bottom of the dish. Remove from the heat. Spread the cherries over the batter and sprinkle on the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar. Pour on the rest of the batter and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon.

Place in middle position of preheated oven and bake for about an hour. The clafouti is done when it has puffed and browned, and a needle or knife plunged into its center comes out clean. Sprinkle top of clafouti with powdered sugar just before bringing it to the table. (The clafouti need not be served hot, but should still be warm. It will sink down slightly as it cools.)

Continues...

Excerpted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I by Julia Child Copyright © 2001 by Julia Child. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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