TV's French Chef plunges into American cuisine
Julia Child returns to the kitchen this month in the new 13-part TV series she's been working on for months with an enormous crew in a handsome, Colonial-style house in Santa Barbara, Calif.
She's done a group of shows that include chefs from all parts of United States. Yes, it's American cuisine she has fallen for, too, along with all the other trendy food people who are exploring their roots - food roots, of course.
So this series, ''Dinner at Julia's,'' is sparkling, breezy, and great fun, but different from her other series, ''The French Chef.''
This time she is not limited to French foods. She also is not so wonderfully klutzy as on the first series. And her cooking is not so elementary, my dear.
The time is right, of course, for her to switch from French cuisine, which she had explored to its fullest with her pissaladiere, petits fours, pate de foie gras, and all the other French dishes she has introduced to Americans over the last 20 years.
''We no longer have to bow down to other countries,'' she explains. ''We can be proud of what we have here. We're developing fine, new, fresh products, and there's no need to rely on imports.''
''Dinner At Julia's'' shows the star giving a dinner party in a large house in California, complete with beautiful people, a handsome dining room, and elegant food being cooked in a dream kitchen outfitted to Julia's specifications with two huge central islands and a six-burner gas stove.
And if those unrehearsed, down-to-earth comments endeared Julia Child to you, like millions of others, you'll like the spontaneity in the new show too. No food-personality voice has ever been imitated as much as her chummy, conversational, low register, which often escalates to high for the ''oops'' at the drop of an egg.
But the cooking itself is not quite as basic in this show. Methods and techniques are speeded up (even the whisking of the egg whites and whipped cream has been done ahead of time somehow, so it can be accomplished as though by magic). But there is still enough action to make the show instructive.
The new series is built around a dinner party for 10 with Julia and her husband, Paul, as hosts. Each episode has guest chefs, one or two on each occasion.
On the first show, guest chef Douglas Grech of Restaurant Duglass in Southfield, Mich., near Detroit makes a gorgeous Sac de Bonbon.
It is a chocolate mold made by brushing chocolate on a small paper bag that is later removed. This results in a chocolate ''paper bag'' that the chef fills with three different kinds of mousse, topped with raspberry sauce, fresh raspberries, and a frosted strawberry. It looks beautiful and must be delicious.
Julia's first ''on food safari'' segment takes her fishing in Puget Sound, renowned for its salmon. Back in the kitchen, she poaches her salmon in a huge French fish pan, steaming and saucing and handling it with tender, loving attention.
As she brushes oil on the fish with a pastry brush, she comes out with a typical Julia remark: ''I don't think oiling does any good, but the fish like it.''
Some of the American dishes she and her guest chefs will cook are Winged Victory (chicken), Bouillabaisse, Designer Duck, and Devilled Rabbit.
On the show showing her prepare and cook roast lamb, her guest chef, Moncef Meddeb of Boston's L'Espalier restaurant, prepares a Maine lobster specialty for the first course.
Another show features a barbecue dinner with a famous trick roper, a mariachi band, and guest chef Francois Kissel of Seattle's Brasserie Pittsbourg, who prepares Dungeness Crab Stew.
Here is one of the menus from the new show. The recipes are not particularly difficult, but are intended for more experienced cooks.
Roast Loin of Pork
Use a dry marinade of salt, pepper, allspice, pureed garlic, a bit of olive oil, and a touch of soy sauce.
Rub it all over the meat and leave in refrigerator a minimum of 3 hours, preferably all day.
When the hors d'oeuvre hour is almost at hand, place pork under broiler and lightly brown on each side in a shallow roasting pan.
Then roast the meat - the outside or fatty part facing up - about l hour at a temperature of 375 degrees F. and to a meat-thermometer reading of 158-160 degrees F.
Degrease pork-roast juices and simmer with a little chicken broth. You need just enough sauce to go over every meat serving.
Puree of Parsnip
Peel parsnips and cut into chunks, then barely cover with water in a heavy pot. Add a tablespoon of butter and a bit of salt. Cover the pot and boil fairly briskly until water has evaporated and parsnips are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Puree cooked parsnips and beat in butter or cream to taste, then steam in a double boiler, stirring several times, not more than 20 minutes before serving.
Steamed Eggplant With Fresh Tomato Pulp
Cook eggplant in covered vegetable steamer 20 to 30 minutes until tender throughout. Cut lengthwise into 6 portions and score with a knife.
Season with salt, lemon juice, a little pureed garlic and olive oil. Top with fresh tomato pulp seasoned and tossed with fresh minced parsley.
Broccoli must be very fresh with all green flowers and crisp stems. Peel stems. Cook broccoli 3 to 4 minutes, either by blanching or steaming, until bright-green and tender.