This is my final Julia Child-related post, I swear. But I have to say, you know you've made a successful dinner when people clean their plates and even go back for seconds while sitting at a table in the same room as an oven that's been blazing at 350 degrees for more than two hours.
And the air conditioner can't catch up because the temperature outside has been over 100 all afternoon.
And sweat is running down the backs of knees and necks.
Still, we reached for more. More boiled potatoes topped with rib-sticking boeuf bourguignon made from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." More caesar salad. More roasted green beans. More gâteau reine de saba (Queen of Sheba cake!). It was that good.
The secret, as we found, is a team of three who know their way around a kitchen. Our team:
Sara — An epicure whose 10 years in France afforded us proper pronunciations of the food before us.
Melissa — Another world traveler with a keen ability for pastry creation and frosting.
Me — Well, it was my kitchen. Someone had to point to where the tongs are kept.
Being servantless, and also otherwise engaged during business hours, we baked the cake the night before. Along the way, we discovered that what they say about beating egg whites in a completely dry, clean bowl is absolutely true. Do not try to get around this. The egg whites can tell, and they will refuse to become foamy or peaked and certainly not stiff.
I don't know about the rest of our dinner party of five, but my favorite part of the boeuf bourguignon by far was the onions. A little extra love before dumping them in with the rest of the stew really paid off.
And speaking of love, we coddled the egg for the caesar dressing as called for by the recipe and as called for by our own understanding of coddling. This additional step was crucial to its flavor, I'm sure.