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Julia's Menus for Special Occasions: Six menus for special celebrations--from a cocktail party to a buffet dinner. Hardcover – September 29, 1998

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 114 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (September 29, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375403388
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375403385
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 9 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,261,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Julia Child dishes up more helpful cooking tricks in Julia's Menus for Special Occasions, the second in her four-part retelling of Julia Child and Company and Julia Child and More Company. Like its predecessor, Julia's Delicious Little Dinners, this book centers around six meals. But this time, Julia tackles some of the real challenges of entertaining, such as serving a fancy dinner to vegetarians, making an impressive meal when you don't know how many guests are coming, and feeding dieters. Some of Julia's suggestions border on lifestyle choices. For example, when throwing a cocktail party, she suggests "more cheer for fewer people"--lots of food (served in the kitchen, to promote a casual atmosphere), lots of wine, and not too much booze. Ample color photos make even complex dishes such as Ham Pithviers--homemade puff pastry with ham filling--seem possible (if a bit ambitious for a cocktail party). It's a special occasion indeed when the average home cook will set aside a weekend to make cassoulet, but just reading Julia's recipe is mouthwatering fun. With tips on shopping, presentation, cleaning up, and leftovers, Julia offers graceful solutions to daunting party problems. --David Kalil

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1 cup (2 dL) white wine, or half wine or dry white vermouth and water, or water only
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ lemon
6 cooking apples (Golden Delicious or others that will keep their shape)
4 or more Tb sugar
4Maraschino cherries
½ cup (1 dL) sugar
3 Tb water
Stick cinnamon

Get a steaming rack, now available almost anywhere. It's perfect for most fruits and vegetables, though not for rice. The kind I like doesn't work for pudding, either, since it is lifted out of the pot by a vertical center handle. It's made of stainless steel and consists of a round perforated bottom dish standing on folding legs an inch or so high. Hinged around the circumference of the disk is a series of perforated flaps that fold inward for storage and outward, against the edge of the saucepan, when the steamer is in use.

Into a saucepan large enough to hold steamer and apples comfortably with a cover, put the liquid, vanilla, cinnamon, and several strips of lemon peel, adding water if necessary so you have ½ inch (1 ½ cm) liquid in the pan for the steaming operation. Wash and core the apples, and peel half the way down from blossom (small) end, dropping peel into saucepan with steaming liquid--to give added flavor and body to it for later. Place steamer in pan and the apples, peeled ends up, upon it. Squeeze the juice of the half lemon over the apples, and sprinkle on as much sugar as you think appropriate for the apples you are using. Bring to the simmer, cover the pan closely, and regulate heat so that liquid is barely simmering--too intense a steam will cause the apples to disintegrate--and keep checking on their progress. They should be done in 15 to 20 minutes, when you can pierce them easily with a small knife.
        Apples may be cooked a day or more ahead and served cold.
        Set the apples on a serving dish or on individual plates or bowls. Remove steamer from pan; boil down the cooking liquid rapidly until lightly syrup, sweeten to taste, and strain over the apples. Decorate each with a maraschino cherry.
The caramel
Shortly before serving, prepare a caramel syrup. Bring ½ cup (1 dL) sugar and 3 tablespoons water to the boil in a small, heavy saucepan, then remove from heat and swirl pan until all sugar has dissolved and liquid is clear--an essential step in sugar-boiling operations, to prevent sugar from crystallizing. Then return to heat, bring again to the boil, cover, and boil rapidly for a minute or so until bubbles are large and thick, indicating that liquid has almost evaporated. Remove cover and boil, swirling pan gently by its handle but never never stirring, until syrup turns a nice, not-too-dark caramel brown. Immediately set bottom of pan in cold water and stir with a spoon for a few seconds until caramel cools slightly and begins to thicken. It should ooze off the spoon in lazy, thick strands. This is important, because if you put it on the apples too soon, when it's too hot or too thin, it'll just slide off onto the dish. Rapidly decorate the apples with strands of syrup dripped over them from tip of spoon, waving it over them in a circular spiral to make attractive patterns.

To clean the caramel pan and the spoon easily, simply fill pan with water and set to simmer for a few minutes to dissolve all traces of caramel.

The dessert can be made with pears instead of apples. It can be lightened by omitting the caramel, or enriched by passing, separately, a bowl of custard sauce or lightly whipped cream.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Harris on March 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book was for me a primer. I enjoyed cooking, knew a few basics, had the time and desire, but lacked experience to put together elegant, imaginative, satisfying and most important, delicious meals for special occasions. In spite of its ambitious menus with fancy hors d'oeuvres and desserts, this book was a patient teacher.
The cooking instructions were friendly, but detailed enough for anyone to get first rate results, even the first time. I committed to heart a few of the basic recipes, like the poached pairs and the caramel sauce, that I found myself making over and over again on whims. It helped me gain confidence to experiment; I applied the candied orange rind confetti from the book's orange slices and blueberries, to grapefruit sorbet and created a new hit. That led to experiments with the details of other courses and finally the menus themselves.
Julia's "Menus for Special Occasions" is an important resource in my kitchen. It's a constant inspiration. I recommend it for any who does not already have it, or its earlier incarnation as two separate volumes: Julia Child & Company, and Julia Child & More Company.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a culinary experience! Julia Child had a way of explaining culinary terms more than any other chef. I remember when I read Mastering The Art Of French Cooking. The book gave me the confidence to make coq au vin. Needless to say the dish was a great success. The recipes in Julia's Menus for Special Occasions are easy to understand and very easy to follow. Impress you family and friends by preparing a few of these wonder recipes.
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By LG on November 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great menus with clear instructions right down to timing. Nothing too complicated but all are memorable, just like Julia. This will be a great addition to your entertaining cookbooks collection
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More About the Author

Julia Child was born in Pasadena, California. She was graduated from Smith College and worked for the OSS during World War II in Ceylon and China, where she met Paul Child. After they married they lived in Paris, where she studied at the Cordon Bleu and taught cooking with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, with whom she wrote the first volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961). In 1963, Boston's WGBH launched The French Chef television series, which made her a national celebrity, earning her the Peabody Award in 1965 and an Emmy in 1966. Several public television shows and numerous cookbooks followed. She died in 2004.

(Photo credit: (C) Michael P. McLaughlin)

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