Julia Child’s Birthday & Coq au Vin

Chicken in Red Wine with Onions, Mushrooms, and Bacon
“In France it is usually accompanied only by parsley potatoes; buttered green peas could be included if you wish a green vegetable.” from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

In honor of Julia’s birthday, Father Adam and I are making the meal as she recommends. Our potatoes are parsleyed and our peas are buttered and tossed with chopped fresh mint.

Montecito, California

Adjacent to the city of Santa Barbara, lies beautiful Montecito. A while back my mother and I had lunch at the charming Montecito Inn.

After lunch, we decided to drive up the road to visit the Casa Dorinda and see where Julia Child spent her last years.

This assisted living facility is a sprawling complex, the former estate of a wealthy nature lover. Julia occupied a cozy one bedroom apartment. She decorated her little kitchen walls with cookware and tools just like she had at her home in Cambridge.

In addition to cooking and camaraderie, another of Julia’s passions was golf. I like to imagine that it gave her pleasure to have this pretty little green at the Casa Dorinda. Perhaps she played there?
Back to the kitchen and her Coq au Vin recipe…

Bacon is simmered in water, then dried and sautéed in hot butter until lightly brown. A whole chicken, cut-up, is then browned in the fat. Cognac is added to the pan.

Another reason to love Julia’s cooking – many of her recipes include lighting them on fire! Tip the pan and ignite the cognac.

After the flames subside, add 3 cups of good red wine and enough beef stock to cover the chicken. Stir in tomato paste, mashed garlic, thyme and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. This is another one of those times where I wish you could smell the aromas…Cover and cook 25-30 minutes.

Meanwhile make brown-braised pearl onions and sautéed mushrooms.

We thought Julia would be pleased that we sautéed french bread in clarified butter, in her honor, to make croutons for the coq au vin.

When the chicken is cooked, remove it to a platter then skim the fat from the sauce. Raise the heat and reduce the sauce. Beat beurre manié into the sauce to thicken, adjust seasoning. Add the chicken, bacon, onions and mushrooms back to the pot, heat through and serve.
The complete recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking can be found here. And oh my, the sauce was so flavorful, rich and velvety!
In honor of Julia’s birthday, August 15th, Lisa of Champaign Taste is hosting the third annual Julia Child Birthday Celebration. Lisa’s was the very first food blog I ever read. I was hosting a Julia-style dinner party in my home and was searching the web for some inspiration, and stumbled upon her first Julia event post. I was excited to read it not only for the ideas, but Lisa lives in Champaign Illinois, which is where I attended college. Please visit Champaign Taste for the round-up of Julia Child dishes from around the globe.
I leave you with the last paragraph from My Life in France:
“Such was the case with the Sole Meunière I ate at La Couronne on my first day in France, in November 1948. It was an epiphany. In all the years since that succulent meal, I have yet to lose the feelings of wonder and excitement that it inspired in me. I can still almost taste it. And thinking back on it now reminds me that the pleasures of the table, and of life, are infinite – toujours bon appetit!

Last year, I truly enjoyed recreating that very meal in my kitchen (here).

Happy Birthday and Thank You Julia Child!

More Michael Mina

Tapioca-Crusted Snapper
Dried Fruit Basmati Rice, Chile-Lime Vinaigrette

Ahi Tartare
Pine Nuts, Mint, Ancho Chile, Sesame Oil

Our waiter, Bryan, prepares the Ahi Tartare for us.

Apropos of earlier in the evening when we attended a Red Dress Gala in support of Women’s Cardiac Care, Bryan shapes the tuna into a heart.

Spinach Soufflé, Parmesan Cream

Roasted Marrow Bones

Passion Fruit Panna Cotta
Lemongrass Consommé, Coconut Sorbet

I think I’ll just let the photos speak for themselves.
The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is a luxury resort that has come to reflect the dynamic environment that surrounds it — where sun-washed stone and bright green cottonwoods rise up to meet the pale-blue sky and majestic purple mountains. But it tops my list for these reasons:  Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak Restaurant and my absolute favorite amenity,  a copy of his cookbook in every suite! Now that’s my kind of bedtime story 🙂
A special thank you to Mandy, Rachel, Jana and Laura for an enchanted evening…
…cheers girls, YAY for Pink Champagne AND a good cause!

Evelyn Dawn’s Salmon, THE RECIPE

Hi Lori Lynn
I hope this does it.
Ingredients:
  • Salmon
  • Flour
  • Eggs
  • Hash Brown Potatoes
  • Flat Leaf Italian Parsley
  • Salt and Pepper
Cut Salmon on a bit of an angle into 3.5 ounce portions. Dust in Flour. Dip in Egg. Roll in Hash Browns to which you have added Salt and Pepper and coarsely chopped Italian Parsley. Put aside.
Lemon Dill Sauce:
  • 3 cups White Wine
  • Juice of two Lemons and their Zest
  • 1/2 cup of chopped Shallots
  • One bunch of chopped Fresh Dill
  • 1 cup unsalted Butter
Heat first four ingredients in a sauce pan. Reduce by 1/3. When reduced, strain and slowly add 1 cup of all melted butter. This is your sauce. Keep warm.
The Salmon is pan sauteed in Olive Oil on one side, flipped and then put into a 450 degree oven for 7-10 minutes depending on how you like it cooked.
The Salmon is served pan Roasted Side up…on top of Zucchini, Yellow Squash and Carrots that have been sautéed in olive oil and Mirin (can be found in all Asian markets).
For plating…Vegetables on the bottom, Salmon on top, coat with Lemon Dill Sauce and a dash of fresh Lemon Juice. Garnish with Flat Leaf Parsley.
Enjoy!
Or you can come to Gina Lee’s Bistro in Redondo Beach and we’ll do the dishes.
Gina Lee

Evelyn Dawn’s Potato Crusted Salmon

Evelyn Dawn’s Potato Crusted Atlantic Salmon
Sautéed Vegetables and Lemon Dill Sauce
Gina Lee’s Bistro, Redondo Beach, California
THE RECIPE CAN BE FOUND HERE.


Evelyn was my grandmother-in-law.
She passed away at 93 years of age in the year 2000.

As a tribute when Evelyn passed, the proprietors of Gina Lee’s Bistro, Scott and Gina Lee, named this dish after her. They keep her memory alive daily in their fabulous restaurant, as waiters are constantly asked by new patrons, who is Evelyn Dawn and why is the salmon named for her? They are quick to tell about Evelyn; an independent woman ahead of her time, with impeccable taste, a successful businesswoman, friend, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and educator of hundreds. Scott and Gina keep a framed photograph of Evelyn in the restaurant.
Evelyn was often asked about the secret to her vitality at her age. When someone would ask her age, she would tell them the truth, and they wouldn’t believe it. She would reply, “Do you really think I would lie and increase my age?” She had a great sense of humor too.
Scott and Gina said of the salmon dish, “This is a crowd favorite. Lots of people remember “Miss Dawn” who among other things founded Rolling Hills Country Day School. She came in the restaurant nearly daily and always had the salmon professing that the omega 3 fatty acids kept her going at top speed. We’ve had former students and teachers come in and marvel that she lives on our menu.”

Miss Evelyn Dawn
July 8, 1907 – July 16, 2000

Here’s Evelyn in her 90’s with a glass of red wine and a cigar!
Rolling Hills Country Day School was founded in 1961 by Evelyn Dawn who began educating children in the early 50’s. She bought and operated her first school in Manhattan Beach, California—a preschool. Seeing growth opportunities along the beach area, Miss Dawn sold her Manhattan Beach school and bought a new facility in Redondo Beach that also included two swimming pools. There she taught swimming and the ABC’s to hundreds of local children. Every year her preschool program grew and eventually she needed a site that would house her dream: to provide a high quality educational experience for children. In 1961, Miss Dawn, with very little assistance, broke ground on a beautiful piece of land on the Palos Verdes Peninsula and realized her dream of a Kindergarten through Grade 8 School, that is Rolling Hills Country Day School.
Today would have been her 101st birthday.

Truffle Butter Popcorn, Iron Horse Blanc de Blanc

If you had a chance to read yesterday’s post, you would know that I am now enamored with Michael Mina. Here is another reason: 
Truffle Butter Popcorn with Chives as a bar snack!

…which we thoroughly enjoyed with a glass of Michael Mina Iron Horse Blanc de Blanc 2000. Iron Horse produces a limited number of special cuvées for select chefs and restaurateurs including Michael Mina. (And, oh, by the way note the cool leather bar top).

From their website: Blanc de Blanc is the most elegant and sophisticated of the Iron Horse cuvées, made from 100% Chardonnay.

It is ethereal – like drinking a cloud. It seems to effervesce away in your mouth and tastes like, among other flavors, a perfectly browned, lightly buttered slice of sourdough toast.
Ah yes, pair with popcorn anyone?

Trio of Duck Fat Fries

I just returned from a trip with my sisters (aoe) to Scottsdale, Arizona. We were fortunate to stay at the fabulous Fairmont Scottsdale Princess where Michael Mina recently opened Bourbon Steak.
One of the chef’s signature items is this Trio of Duck Fat Fries. I’m laughing about posting it immediately after my heart healthy artichoke. Oh well…
I was excited to get a tour of the kitchen. There are 4 deep-fryers in a row. It was explained three contain duck fat and one vegetable oil for vegetarians. The fries are seasoned, then fried, then seasoned a second time so they need their own fryer as to not mix the flavors. This array included smoked paprika fries paired with barbecue sauce, truffled fries paired with garlic aioli, and chive fries paired with spiced ketchup. We all agreed they were the best fries we had ever eaten, bar none. His website gives a detailed recipe, please visit here.

Here, the designer used elements of the southwest; leather, wood, stone to create a breathtaking space. Blown away by every aspect of this restaurant from design and decor, to service, food and drink, I cannot wait to try other Michael Mina restaurants.
I want to extend a special thank you to Chris, Brian, Jennifer, James and the excellent staff at Bourbon Steak for the truly extraordinary evening.