Saturday, May 1, 2010

Baked Cucumbers for Julie & Julia

Julie &Julia by Julie Powell tells us the story of a project or rather a blogging marathon undertaken by Julie Powell who wanted to try all the 500+ recipes in 'Mastering The Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child and that too within a year.If she were like me,then it would not have happened I am sure of that.But she not only cooked all the recipes and became the world's first food blogger in 2002 and went on to convert the blog into a book which last year became a movie starring Meryl Streep.

The book starts by telling us about the routine life of Julie which is pretty normal.She feels frustrated by this soooo ordinary directionless life and encouraged by her husband she decides to start an blog.On having stolen her mother's copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking or MtAoFC,she decides on mammoth project to cook all the 524+ recipes within a year.But if you think that the book is full of recipes,then you are wrong.It tells us her struggle to get dishes done,despite her lack of knowledge or non availablity of ingredients,the trips to get these or the determination to continue even during blackouts and also sometimes the taste of the final product.

She is intrigued about Julia Child who introduced the Americans to French Cooking.There are glimpses of Julia's recipes full of butter or cream and ingredients like calf marrow,livers or sweetbreads which are dieters nighmare but a carnivores delight but obviously rich or high fat foods.The book makes us feel like we are reading a diary of Julie's life with changes happening everyday and never a cookbook.Its like Julia Child being there but just as a shadow.On a literary point of view,I am impressed with the way Julie Powell wrote it or blogged about it without ever letting the attention to be diverted from her or her project.The book which starts with her being intrigued about Julia Child ends up with Julie being impressed of Julia or atleast I felt so.

I was and still am impressed by Julia Child though ofcourse most of her recipes are non vegetarian.The first dish of hers that I tried was Ratatouille which I sourced from a fellow blogger,La Recette du Jour.In Julie & Julia several recipe names are mentioned and one such which interested me was "Concombres au Beurre" or buttery baked cucumbers.Never before I have seen a cucumber recipe other than a salad or even a juice and that too baked!.I decided to try it and I must say I loved the crunchy snack just like Julie.I have used the recipe from Recipezaar where it was given along with the variations.

Cucumber: 1 peeled and chopped into strips.

Red Wine Vinegar: almost 1 tbsp
Salt: as per taste
Sugar: a pinch

Onions: 1/2 of a small onion : 2 -3 tbsp chopped
Basil Leaves: few 3-4 (can also use dried basil)
Melted Butter: 1 tbsp+
Pepper: as pr taste.

Lightly peel,deseed and cut the cucumber into strips.You can leave the peel or seeds as such if you like.In a bowl,mix together the cucumber strips,vinegar,salt and sugar.Keep aside for atleast 30 minutes to several hours.

Preheat the oven to 350F.Drain the cucumber in paper towels and pat dry.Add basil,melted butter,onion and pepper to the cucumber strips and toss well.Place them in a single layer in lined baking sheet.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or more until the edges of cucumbers start to brown.Serve as a snack or side to roasted meat.I enjoyed as a snack.

Here I must say I adapted the recipe or used the variations given in the recipe.The original Julia chicld recipe goes for baking the cucumber for an hour at 375.But the review of the recipe went for 20 minutes at 350.I too went for 350F and after 30 minutes found my cucumbers getting brown and dry and some were already shrivelled due to heat but not burnt so I took them out.And on consuming I liked the crunchy taste.So I will be making this again at 350F for 20 minutes.

The first bite is crunchy and surprising.Never knew cucumbers could be crunchy.My husband thought it was zucchini and could not believe it was cucumber.We loved it and I will baking this again and will try without butter as well.

Lets see whether Julie,the first food blogger and Julia Child,the Master French Chef has inspired anyone at the BookClub to cook dangerously? Do checkout BookClub's new site at This Book Makes Me Cook .


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