It would have been the utterly fabulous Julia Child's 100th birthday today, and to honour and celebrate her life, there have been hundreds of extravagant dinners served this month, featuring some of her best known and loved classics. While it's true that Julia introduced the wonders of rich, complex French cooking to millions over her lifetime, she was also the master of dishes that are easy and quick to prepare. The constants? Top quality ingredients, seasonal goodness and of course, real butter.
If you're not inclined to whip up a roast duck and big gooey cake tonight - Julia's favourite birthday dinner, and the inspiration for this blog's name - try this simple and simply delicious summer meal instead. Featuring flavourful chicken salad and an in-season peach tarte tatin, it's the perfect meal to enjoy on a warm summer's evening. Pour a glass of chilly white and toast the woman who continues to bring us into the kitchen and inspire us to cook with thought, care and passion.
Julia's Chicken Salad
adapted from Julia's Kitchen Wisdom
Here’s my version of Julia’s pie dough, which can be used for the tarte or for any sweet or savoury pie you wish to make. You will need about half of this recipe for the tarte. Or use your favourite pie dough; you will need enough dough for a single pie tart.
1. Preheat the oven to 425F, with the rack in the lower middle position.
2. In a large bowl, combine the sliced peaches with the lemon juice, zest and spices. Set aside.
3. In the skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat. Slowly stir in the remaining sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to turn syrupy and golden brown. Be careful not to overcook, as the mixture can burn easily.
4. Remove the skillet from the heat. Arrange the sliced peaches in a circular pattern in the skillet, starting at the outer edge of the pan and working your way into the middle, until you have used all of the peaches. Leave any accumulated juices behind.
5. Return the skillet to the stove and cook over moderately high heat, pressing down on the peaches every few minutes. Cover the skillet after ten minutes, but continue to press down on the fruit, and brush the tops of the peaches with the juices in the skillet. Watch the peaches carefully, as the sugar can carmelise and burn quickly. When the juices are thick and syrupy (about 20 minutes) remove the skillet from the heat.