If you read my about me section, you'd know that I grew up on a diet of over-cooked, under-seasoned chicken, Prego tomato sauce and fast food. Although my mom is an extraordinary artist, she's probably one of the worst cooks I've ever met, so at age 8, I began experimenting in the kitchen with the only intention of concocting a meal without chicken or tomato sauce. Unsurprisingly, my parents were all for it and gave me reigns of the kitchen. I got to use the real oven, the real knives and I even got to cut my thumb open really badly.
I soon discovered how much I enjoyed the creation part of cooking; manipulating raw ingredients into something beautiful and tasty. Soon after that, I discovered Julia Child.
My dad rarely cooked but frequently had Julia on. I began to watch her, learning how to roll a french omelet, make souffles rise and roast chickens. Some found her voice annoying, but I found it comforting, sort of like the grandmother who taught me to cook.
So on a quiet Friday night when in my awkward years, my dad came home from work and said, "get in the car, I have a surprise." All of us drove over to Bloomingdales, Century City and took the escalators to the top floor, where Julia was signing books. I told her that I wanted to be a chef and was looking at cooking schools.
I continued to watch her throughout high school (which was way too uncool to tell my friends), and eventually enrolled in culinary school at The Culinary Institute of America when everyone was applying to college.
I was walking by fish kitchen at The CIA when I heard word of her passing over the loudspeaker. It was a sad moment, but one that I was able to share with a community of people who felt the same.
Today would have been her 100th birthday.
INGREDIENTS: (makes one 8” round)
- 1¼ cups milk
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tbsp. vanilla
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup flour
- 3 cups cherries, pitted
- 1/3 cup sugar
- powdered sugar, to garnish
-Preheat oven to 350˚ F. -In a blender, blend the milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and flour.
-Pour a 1/4 inch layer of the batter in a buttered 7 or 8 cup lightly buttered fireproof baking dish.
-Place in the oven until a film of batter sets in the pan. Remove from the heat and spread the cherries over the batter.
-Sprinkle on the 1/3 cup of sugar. Pour on the rest of the batter.
-Bake at 350 degrees for about for about 45 minutes to an hour. The clafouti is done when puffed and brown and a knife plunged in the center comes out clean.
-Sprinkle with powdered sugar, serve warm.