After watching a Beef Wellington video by Martha Stewart that included Julia Child and Jacques Pepin I decided to order this book as a 60th bday present for myself. It is like having Julia in your kitchen. She goes over basics like baking bread, in detail and things like flavored butters and making pate. She includes crepes and puff pastry hors d'oeurves and even her own recipe for gingerbread. As a much younger woman I used to watch Julia on PBS and as I read this book I can here her faltering voice gently instructing me how to do things expertly. I had read reviews of this book here and heeded the advice of others to buy the version from the 70's and I am very glad I did.
Probably Julia's Masterpiece
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 12 years ago
Those interested in cooking à la Julia usually make their way to Mastering I and/or II, fine volumes both, but there is good reason to choose this volume instead. In my opinion it should be considered Julia's finest achievement as a cookbook author, and if I could have only one book in my kitchen, this would be it. It is a superb teaching volume and ideal for beginning home cooks, but even those with experience would benefit from owning it. This is the first book that Julia developed and wrote entirely herself, and for that reason it is quite a bit more individual than its predecessors. In her autobiography "My Life in France" she describes it as both the hardest and most rewarding project of her career. Unlike the Mastering volumes, which were meant to be practical textbooks on French cooking, this book is much more wide-ranging and exploratory, with Julia trying out everything from pizza to curried dinners to hard boiled eggs to Christmas fruitcake. It's like a snapshot of how she cooked in the early 1970s. By then she had worked through some fundamental recipes for almost two decades and solved many problems still unsettled in Mastering I, which means that the versions of them published here often contain small but vital improvements. An example occurs in the very first recipe, for Potage Parmentier, that most basic and delicious of soups. Julia adds a simple flour thickener as a liaison, which adds a step, but in my experience it results in a better-textured and nicer-tasting finished product than one gets with her earlier versions of this recipe. Not only that, but following it gives you a little lesson on thickeners, which you can then apply elsewhere. The book is filled with little touches like that. I adore her way with chicken in this book; most of the recipes are simpler than those in Mastering I and II, but always delicious. The beef chapter is superb and I have become known as a great cook by serving this version of her Boeuf Bourguignon. I have also made the best puff pastry of my life by following this book's instructions, and Julia's chocolate mousse--well, it's like a dream come true! I've probably cooked three-quarters of the recipes in this book and am always impressed, and I learn something every time I cook with it. Of all her books, this is the one in which Julia's personal culinary preferences and predilections come through most clearly. There is quite a bit of editorializing before and between recipes, and from these mini-essays you get a sharp sense of what she valued in food. This book should be seen as a summary Julia Child's achievement, culminating the work of her earlier publications. Her later books, while worthwhile, do not add much to the picture that doesn't already receive treatment here. I cannot recommend this book enthusiastically enough. Try to get one of the 1970s printings if you can, since they are of fine quality, unlike the 90s-era reprinting.
Hidden Masterpiece. Buy it now!
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 14 years ago
`From Julia Child's Kitchen' by the great culinary teacher, Julia Child, is an account of the recipes from the second major PBS `The French Chef' series, filmed in color in the WGBH Boston studios, just as the book, `The French Chef' covers recipes from the very first black and white series of shows. These two books have probably been lost in the shadows of the monumental two volume `Mastering the Art of French Cooking' and the later `The Way to Cook' and Child's collaboration with Jacques Pepin and Dorrie Greenspan on baking. Since this book is so much in the shadow of other works, I half expected to find a few traces of clay feet on the great Julia. Let me assure you that I did not. This book is every inch as delightful and informative and insightful as every other culinary work from Ms. Julia and her various collaborators. In fact, this book is so good, it is almost a crime that it should be available from a Random House discount label rather than its original imprimatur from Alfred A. Knopf (a Random House subsidiary). The very most important fact to learn from this book is, as Ms. Child says, that it is `self-contained'. Essentially, that means there is nothing for which you have to go searching for in one of her earlier books, such as how to make a veloute sauce or how to coddle an egg. Next in importance is that while the book is heavily based on the French cuisine, it is a bit more strongly oriented to American tastes and methods than the classic `Mastering...'. Less important to the average cook, but of great importance to me is the insight Ms. Child gives to the task of learning cooking and of becoming an accomplished cook. I find it an enormous irony that the while Julia Child created the modern American archetype of how to write a good recipe AND there have been writers such as Diane Jacob (author of `Will Write for Food') who does not see the point of writing recipes in any other way, Julia states that an experienced cook can, in fact, successfully execute a recipe which has nothing more than a simple narrative outline of what the cook is to do, much as Ms. Child's famous British contemporary, Elizabeth David did in her first work, `A Book of Mediterranean Food'. And, this `alternative' style of recipe writing and philosophy of cooking education is popular with some very good English food writers, especially Nigel Slater (`Appetite', `Kitchen Diaries'). So, even though Julia Child, throughout all her books, gives us very detailed recipes, she is all in favor of internalizing cooking principles and striking off on one's own. One upshot of this is that this book is a really excellent text for a cooking class. Not only are all recipes explained in great detail, but lots and lots of reasons why things work the way they do are given, without ever dipping into technical scientific language, and having to apologize for that fact. So, we find Julia Child to be the mother of not only mainstream culinary writing, but also of the brand of cu
For cooking novices, Julia's best book
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 16 years ago
This unassuming book, a companion to Julia Child's original WGBH TV series, doesn't have many recipes, certainly isn't comprehensive, and has only pathetic, tiny, black and white illustrations. But it's loaded with detailed explanations of the basics--what to do, why to do it that way, what will happen if you do it the wrong way and (sometimes) how to fix things that have gone wrong. The book is really almost a programmed learning text on cooking, although it isn't presented as such. I don't know of a better cookbook for novices, who can soon follow it to create really impressive dishes that will earn accolades, and help keep up their interest in cooking. Not all the recipes are classics. Some are the author's innovations, but make the point that, by combining basic techniques, interesting new dishes can be done. For example, the two sauce "Lasagne a la Francais" is unlike any Lasagna you've ever had--but wonderful--and makes perfect sense once you've been through the earlier recipes in the book on whose techniques it builds. If I were looking for a book for someone who didn't really know how to cook, but wanted to learn, this is the one I'd get.
A Cooking Class and Classic
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 20 years ago
As a child I enjoyed watching Julia Child on TV and as I read From Julia Child's Kitchen it's in her own voice that I am hearing her words. The text is so clearly written that anyone, at any cookling ability level can easily follow her instructions. The pictures were a bit disappointing being small, older and all black and white, but besides that the book is a gem. If you are looking for just a collection of recipes - look elsewhere - but if you want a course in master cookery from a master chef - this is the book for you!
Julia's cooking techniques and stories told in her own voice
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 22 years ago
Of all of Julia Child's cookbooks (most of which I own), I find this one to be by far her best. As a devoted fan of the author even since I saw her on PBS as a child, I've always appreciated her mixture of technique and detail with continuous narrative.From Julia's Kitchen reads as well as it cooks. She speaks in her own voice, seemingly without the interference of colleagues or editors, leading us through her favorite recipies. As always, she complains about the difficulties of finding true French ingredients, such as sorrel or creme fraiche, in the US. However, the effects of progress can be seen as the food processor makes its first apprearance in her pastry recipe.Although tied in to her concurrent PBS show, it's more complete and cohesive than The French Chef Cookbook without the increasingly blatant commercialness of later works.
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