Fellow IACP members, who recognizes this plate? Julia Child was a founding member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals; over the years, the group’s cookbook awards gala grew to a rather big splash. The year 1997 was so splashy, attendees received this commemorative platter and Julia took the time to autograph plates for anyone who asked. I didn’t ask, as I was probably pretending to be Too Cool To Ask.
Not too cool for a book autograph, however. A few years earlier I had her sign a copy of The Way to Cook as a gift for Larry, who was in the midst of perfecting his pizza making.
The Julie & Julia movie gives reasons to once again fall in love with Julia Child. My first Julia encounter was in the late 80s at the IACP conference, and I’d see her pretty much each year until her health prevented travel. I grew up not knowing PBS, so I wasn’t aware of how HUGE a fan base Julia had; she was easy to sit with at a function and ate asparagus with her fingers. The year our conference was in San Francisco, however, I remember walking out of the hotel to encounter crowds and TV cameras, causing me to wonder what big celebrity must be here. Julia stepped out a few paces behind me and to my surprise, the place went nuts. It was a pleasant experience to realize a foodie was a rock star.
Larry accompanied me to a few IACP conferences (I’ve missed one in 22 years). Providence, RI was his first Julia encounter; he stole her chair. Not on purpose, one particular dinner party was wild eating, lots of fun and crowded with not enough chairs. I scored a seat, he looked around, spotted an empty one and started to move it over. Then someone gently told him whose seat he was swiping, and you’d have thought his pants were on fire, he got that chair back to its place pronto before Julia returned with her plate.
I can thank Julia for a treasured speech-giving tip. She often co-hosted presentations and when the other person spoke, she turned her full attention to them as though she was listening to the smartest person on the planet. It was a generous gesture on her part – in front of an audience of 1500, she was not thinking about her own next sentence, she wanted her co-presenter to be heard.
The LA Times ran a playful article about Nora Ephron, her Julie & Julia movie, and the task of making Fresh Apple Tart. I love love love Nora Ephron (you must read her book, Heartburn, it’s a foodie hoot), so the same day, I made a Julia-ish tart. With all due respect to Julia’s totally scratch cooking, mine is a shortcut method and uses slightly less sugar:
Easy Fresh Apple Tart ~ adapted from a Julia Child recipe
1 9-inch unbaked pie crust (I used a ready-made product)
2 Granny Smith apples
3 Tbsp. sugar, divided
3/4 cup apricot jam
2 Tbsp. dark rum
Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray. Lay out the pie crust flat onto the baking sheet. Wet the edges all around with a little water and fold approx. 1/2 inch over to form a raised edge. Don’t try to make it look perfect, Julia’s tart is rustic looking. Using the tines of a fork, gently press the inside half of the folded edge all around to seal the fold, leaving the outside rim un-squished so it will rise when baked. Poke the bottom of the shell with the fork every 3 inches or so. Place into the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Peel, core and slice the apples approximately 1/8 inch thick. Remove the tart shell from the refrigerator and sprinkle the bottom with 2 Tbsp. sugar. Lay the apple slices evenly in a fan pattern around the shell. Sprinkle the top of the apples with the remaining 1 Tbsp. sugar. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the crust edge is golden and the apples are tender. Remove from the oven, let it sit for 5 minutes, then slide tart from pan onto a rack.
To make the glaze, in a small saucepan, stir together the jam and rum. Over a medium heat, boil the mixture for approximately 3 minutes, stirring with a whisk occasionally. Using a pastry brush, coat the apple slices with the hot glaze. Serve tart warm. Makes 6 to 8 servings.