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Julia Child's Birthday Dinner

My chowhound friends and I are excited about making the menu from Bon Appetit's "Happy Birthday, Julia" article. Are any of you planning a party using this menu? Simple menu, but with many folks across the country making the same menu on the same night for the same reason, should be a reason to keep in touch with each other about our successes/failures and just fun home cooking! I'll look forward to reading the posts.

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  1. I no longer subscribe but I love the idea. Online: http://www.bonappetit.com/magazine/co...

    First Course
    Pissaladière Niçoise
    Bandol Rosé

    Main & Sides
    Poulet Sauté aux Herbes de Provence
    French bread

    Salad Course
    Green Salad with Sauce Vinaigrette

    Reine de Saba

    Delightful. Surely Julia would approve.

    6 Replies
    1. re: MplsM ary

      I love the idea also! She was such a great inspiration to so many! I cherish my signed "Menu Cookbook", tho I confess to not having used it in ages! Her first menu is the Birthday dinner - crabmeat appetizer, Roast Duck with cracklings, the cake! Only Julia could pull off something so rich and decadent!

      And I love the wine suggestions - Chablis, Burgundy or Pinot Noir & Champagne or Sauternes. Would love to go the that dinner party!

      1. re: MplsM ary

        mmmmm. I seem to recall that the Reine de Saba was Julia's all-time favorite cake. But the photo shows a layer cake, and the Reine is a bowl-shaped cake.

        This meal looks (except for the cake) sounds like one of my summertime dinner parties. What a nice idea to make those for Julia's birthday. ;)

        What a classy lady. Every year after her birthday had passed, she would send out thank you notes to all her friends and fans who had sent her birthday cards.

        1. re: ChefJune

          She shows the Los Gatos Cake, " a dacquoise type of apricot filled torte", with merinque-nut layers. Don't see the Reine de Saba cake recipe in this edition - circa 1991.

          1. re: Phurstluv

            this sounds really good. i can't find it published online...

            1. re: jeniyo

              Which one, the Reine de Saba or the Los Gatos Cake?

        2. Just an interesting aside about Julia, even though she was a gourmet cook one of her favorite meals was an In-N-Out double double cheeseburger, she had a list of every In-N-Out in California.

          1. Sounds like a nice tribute to her. I doubt I can participate in that elaborate menu even as much as I love her and want to.

            But what I will do in her honor is probably make a lovely herb omlette in the morning and drink a bottle of, er I mean, a fine glass of white wine...

            1 Reply
            1. re: chef chicklet

              I love the quote from Julia which was the response to the question, "To what do you attribute your longevity?" (or something close to that). Her answer was, "Beef and gin."

            2. I have her cookbook Julia Child and Company with her birthday dinner menu. She says her favorite birthday dinner is always Roast duck and a big gooey cake. Neither of those would have been much fun to make on a hot summer day, before central air. The menu in the cookbook also has Chesapeake lump crab apps, puree of parsnips in zucchini boats and broccoli spears with brown butter and lemon. The duck is duck with cracklings and the gooey cake is Los Gatos Gateau , a very elaborate affair with layers of meringue, apricot filling and butter Cream frosting. I watched her make the cake on television- it was impressive. Thought her menu would be an interesting addition to this thread. I can't wait to see the movie- loved the book.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ginnyhw

                I saw her make the cake, too, and loved that she explained that the grat thing about a long rectangular cake such as this is that you can eat a slice as a treat, then put more buttercream on the end, and your guests will never know. That shows her signature down-to-earth spirit and enjoyment of her own cooking to a tee.

              2. Wow! ginnyhw! My friends and I WON"T be doing that menu...we'll do the simple one in Bon Appetit Mag. I have that Julia Child and Friends book and am going to try that cake one of these days, when the weather around San Antonio cools off a bit... but it won't be min-August! Thanks for the post on her "real" birthday menu. We'll report on how the easier one goes.

                1. Since my birthday is August 15, the same as Julia's, I'm open to anyone who wants to make me Julia's dinner.... ;-)

                  1. Told my sister last week that I thought I'd do this 8/15 menu for the family. I rather like the thought that Julia's fans from all over would be making the same dinner that evening. Very pleased that Bon Appetit picked ratatouille; the vegetables will be available fresh from local growers (shoot, might even manage to use peppers from my own little patch), and the Reine de Saba has been on my "to do" list for a long time. Maybe this is the impetus I need to make it.

                    Being that it's my family, of course I'll have to make a change. The pissaladiere won't fly, alas. So I'm thinking of subbing a small cup of vichyssoise for the first course, Julia's, natch. And I'll cheat and do the Bittman/Lahey bread. Somehow, I don't think Julia would give me any grief on that.

                    1. my birthday is on the 14th so i think i'll make this menu but with an extra quiche for my vegetarian friend instead of the chicken saute or duck breast...

                      i've never tried these cakes, the reine de saba sounds fairly simple for a birthday cake (no layers). so... it's rich enough and birthday worthy?

                      1. We are all excited about our event and we are currently working on our invitations and after that will come selections for the night's menu, in her honor!

                        1. I was inspired by Bon Appetit's suggestion but have decided to prepare the Birthday Dinner from Julia Child and Company at our restaurant.. It was almost thirty years ago when I first prepared it for my husband's and my anniversary dinner. It was a wonderful menu with crab and roasted duck and a fabulous apricot torte. We had just remodeled our kitchen and had put in a convection oven. The duck was wonderful. And we toasted it all with Dom Perignon with our favorite couple. A memorable evening . . . and I think a perfect way to honor Child.

                          I so hope the movie is a hit. In the clips Meryl Streep is almost as good as Dan Ackroyd who back in the 1980s had a wonderful Julia Child sketch in which she/he severs an artery but continues to keep on cookin'.

                          7 Replies
                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                Thanks, guess I am out of luck.... Gonna have to make my own Julia birthday dinner for myself...

                                1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                  Let's see - the 15th is a Saturday, and you're not too far from me, I don't think...... ;-)

                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                    Live in CT, but will be in Cape Cod for birthday week.

                                    1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                      A very nice place to spend your (shared with Julia) birthday!

                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                        Thanks, Linda! I'll be toasting to her!

                          1. i've sent out the word that i'm cooking and there are now around 10+ people coming for dinner. I thought there are just going to be 4 or 5 of us.. =)

                            I don't have the official book. I'm heading out to B&N tonite to pick it up!

                            please let me know if you have a crowd worthy dish you like to make in this book, i think i might end up with 15 people (*_*). Thanks!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: jeniyo

                              At the end of the book are several bonus recipes that weren't on the TV series. One is an egg and mushroom dish to 'bring for a crowd' that I used to make. I'm not home so don't have the book in front of me. There's also the world's easiest dessert with "store bought' ice cream, rum and instant coffee served in a wine goblet. It's delicious.

                            2. Does anyone remember her 80th birthday party? I think it was on PBS. Several teams of chefs fed a huge birthday crowd. Dungeness crab and lamb I believe were on the menu. But what I remember most was an ensemble from the Boston Pops, I think, who performed a special piece for her using only kitchen equipment as their instruments -- pots, pan, whisks, old-fashioned egg beaters, wooden spoons, etc. I've often tried to find a rerun of it, to no avail. No YouTube back then! Happy birthday, Julia!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: nemo

                                Was it a crab bisque & Gigot Farci en Croute? It was her birthday dinner menu from Mastering the Art of Frech Cooking, Vol. 2. Great book.

                                Ginnyw, you must be talking about the Eggs Interallies - Scrambled eggs and mushrooms gratineed with cheese. Looks really good!

                                I have not used any of these menus - but I think it would be hard to go wrong. So awesome how in the suggested wines area of the menu she would put "Jugs or magnums"!!

                                1. re: nemo

                                  I was on that team of chefs. I worked with Chef Jimmy Burke to make Roasted Scallops in their Shells with a very fancy version of Brandade de Morue (we just talked about that....) It was tons of fun being in the kitchen that night. Everyone helped with the plating. You never saw such assembly lines and precision in the kitchen.

                                  As part of the entertainment, Julia requested the showing of Dan Ackroyd's skit, and actually, he was her dinner partner that night. ;)

                                  Afterwards, when we were doing the cleanup, the FOH sent us back lots of Champagne for a thank you. Great memories. ;)

                                2. i've just never heard of these names to these dishes! how fancy. I can't wait.

                                  1. I simply had to update you folks regarding the "Julia birthday dinner" Too much fun. Our local newspaper heard about it and the Leisure Editor is so excited she's going a whole spread on Julia....our dinner, with photos, a movie review and an article about her. We are now getting phone calls from people who were not included and they are miffed!! We are saying "make the dinner with other friends who cook"! A friend who is part of the dinner e-mailed her cousin who lives in Paris. He told his friend in San Francisco and they are astonished that ladies from "Po-Dunk, Texas" are cooking Julia Child's foods. What a hoot.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: amazinc

                                      Very fun! Make sure you post a link to the article, etc. when it's out!

                                      1. re: amazinc

                                        I think that was the whole point of Julia Child: that she demystified French cuisine and brought it to "Podunk Texas."

                                      2. I like the first course, and the dessert, and the salad course is okay.

                                        If I were planning this menu from scratch, I'd probably pick a whole different main course than that offered by the Magazine. The entree for my menu for a Julia Child Birthday dinner would include potatoes, for one, maybe potatoes anna or "pomme de terre sautees" or "gratin dauphinois." Julia is brilliant at potato recipes. Why not include one? Second, I'd do a different chicken recipe from her repertoire, maybe her classic roast chicken or chicken fricassee, or chicken tarragon. I think the editors of the article may have simplified the main course to make the menu attractive to the regular Bon Appetit reader. As for the vegetable course, ratatoullie is not a classic side for roast chicken, either, I'd do a different vegetable side, like braised leeks, or, given that it's summer, peas in butter, or roast corn.

                                        Otherwise, its an okay menu and a great time to celebrate good cooking generally, and Julia in particular. I may personally have picked different items for a menu honoring Julia myself, but it's nice to see people getting exciting about cooking in her honor!

                                        1. Cooking for Julia in August is a challenge because the heat of August in Texas is stifling, heating up the house makes my husband miserable, and many of the recipes require long periods of stove or oven cooking.

                                          So, this year, 2013, I'm having a small kitchen dinner and trying for a menu that won't heat up the house:
                                          Baked Tomatoes (on the grill)
                                          Tournedos (4 minutes per side, on the stove)
                                          Ratatouille (grill outside, then pressure cook, quick,stove again)
                                          Fried potatoes (outside in electric skillet)
                                          Braised kale (in a skillet on the grill)
                                          She doesn't mention shishito peppers, but they are everywhere in CSA baskets right now, so I'm including them, grilled alongside the tomatoes.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: flynguy

                                            Sounds great flynguy! I was on Cape Cod to celebrate my birthday, same as Julia's so I made Steak Diane in her honor. Miss her all the time.