♪ ♪ JULIA: Here are vegetables cooked the French way.
Glazed carrots, broiled stuffed mushrooms, buttered string beans, and creamed braised spinach as a bed for poached eggs.
This is what we're gonna do next time on The French Chef.
♪ ♪ ANNOUNCER: The French Chef is made possible by a grant from Safeway Stores.
We're doing vegetables today on The French Chef.
Carrots... beans, broiled stuffed mushrooms and braised spinach.
That's what we're going to do today on The French Chef.
♪ ♪ Welcome to The French Chef.
I'm Julia Child.
Today we're going to do vegetables the French way.
One of the things that most amazed and delighted me when I first went to France was their absolutely delicious vegetables.
They're so good, you can serve them as a separate course.
And they have a special way of cooking vegetables.
They're not considered just as decorative elements, or worse, as medicine, but as absolutely delicious food that nature has given us and that should be cooked with loving care.
They're not difficult to do, as I'm gonna show you now.
We're gonna start, first of all, with green string beans.
In France, beans are about that size, or that size.
Very small, thin ones, about... well, that's about a quarter of an inch across.
Our beans are usually much bigger.
These are all, of course, American beans, and they come in all different sizes.
If you want to take the time to pick them all out one by one, you can.
But it doesn't really make too much difference.
To prepare them-- we're gonna cook them whole-- you take the end, like that, and just pull it down.
If by any chance there's any string, just by pulling it down that way, you pull the string off.
You get a much better tasting bean if you cook them whole.
This business of what they call "frenched beans" is something they never do in France, because they don't have to.
And if they're cooked frenched, you get much less flavor than if you cook them whole.
So, we have our beans here all prepared.
And before you cook them, you want to wash them in hot water, and you wash them just before you cook them, and just quickly wash them in very hot water, because in the French method they... they cook very quickly, and they cook in a very large kettle of boiling water.
Now, this was something that surprised me, 'cause very often you hear, "Well you don't cook vegetables in a large amount of water."
But what people usually mean is a quart of water.
I have here in this kettle about eight or nine quarts of rapidly boiling water.
And that's one of the great points of the French system, that you cook them in an enormous amount of boiling water, and then they come rapidly back to the boil again, and then you take them out as soon as they're done.
And that's what keeps them green and fresh, because the rapidly boiling water seals the... seals the juices and the color in.
It sort of is like a searing in hot fat.
Now, when I was in France, I had a wonderful old chef called Max Bugnard, who was about 70 years old.
And he said that when he'd been working on an ocean liner, the chef there always put a great big red-hot iron from the stove into the water.
And when I was in Washington, I was telling a friend of ours, whose nickname is "Old Buffalo," about this wonderful system, and I said, "I wish I had something that was non-rustable."
And he said, "Well, I'll make you one."
So he made me a stainless steel rod with a wooden handle, and I've had it heating here until it's very hot.
And so you plunge it into your kettle, like that, and that brings the water very fast up to the boil again.
And that's one of the great reasons that you use a lot of water, 'cause the more water you use that's rapidly boiling, the quicker it comes back to the boil again after you put your beans in.
And now, these are going to cook about... for just about five minutes.
And so I'm gonna put them over on another burner, where they boil.
And, as you notice, they boil uncovered.
That's very important to keeping the beans green, that they always boil uncovered.
And then you keep your eye on them.
And while those are boiling, here's a quick way and delicious way to do carrots.
There's a peeled carrot, and I'm gonna cut them up into quarters, like that.
That in France is called la coupe bourgeoise.
And you just cut your carrots like that and then cut it in half that way.
You find that a great big knife is much easier to use than a little knife, because you don't have to do very much work; the knife does it for you.
And then when they're all cut, you put them into your pot.
And then we're going to put in just... cover to just about half their height in water, like that.
And then put in a little bit of butter.
I've got about two cups of carrots there, and I'm gonna put in about a tablespoon and a half of butter.
And then a little salt.
I'll put in about... oh, about a quarter teaspoon of salt.
And then to give them a little more flavor, we'll give them a chopped shallot.
These shallots are very much used in French cooking.
They're often hard to get here, and they're quite expensive.
It's the small member of the onion family.
But it's so tender, it cooks very quickly.
And if you don't have a shallot, you can use these spring onions.
You do remember we've done this so many times, how to chop a shallot quickly.
You can also cook these carrots in a little bit of chicken broth.
When they come up to the simmer here, you cover them, and just let them cook very slowly for about 20 minutes.
And you can do them way ahead of time.
So, you just cover them and then let them cook slowly, and you can... and keep watching them, and by the time the carrots are tender, the water's all boiled away, and you haven't lost any of the carrot flavor.
Well, I think carrots are hideously dull when they're just boiled in water and then drained.
And this way, you lose none of your flavor at all.
So those are just going to cook quietly.
And now we're going to take a look at our beans.
I think the Buffalo iron has done its work.
I wish somebody would manufacture those things.
Now, you always want to keep looking at them after about four minutes is gone.
I always use chopsticks to pick them out with.
Take your biggest bean... Can't seem to get it out today.
And just taste it.
Oh, that's just about done.
They're done when it's... it just has a little touch of crunchiness.
It depends really much... very much on your taste.
I like them so they have a little touch of crunchiness in them.
That's about done.
So, now... comes another part of the French system, which is, immediately you feel they're done.
And that really means immediately.
'Cause if they sit in their hot water, they lose all their freshness.
You put a colander on top and then grip the handles, and pour out all the boiling water.
And then... you refresh them in cold water to stop the cooking immediately.
Now, this is just exactly the system that all the big commercial vegetable freezers use.
This hot water cooking is called blanching, and then immediately they're done, cooling them off in cold water.
(coughs) I'm sticking on a bean.
And this cooling them off stops the cooking immediately, retains the color and all the texture of them.
And if you taste them after this is done, they're absolutely delicious, and they retain that lovely green color.
You want to cool them off for about three or four minutes.
And then... drain out the cold water.
And then just pour the beans into a colander.
And there, those are beautifully fresh and tender.
And these you can do way ahead of time.
You can do these in the morning.
And don't hesitate to use your fingers.
You always scrub up before you wash. And then just taste it now.
It's just delicious.
Sweet as a nut, and it has that nice crunchy taste, which is just lovely.
Now, if you do these ahead of time, you just drain them thoroughly, and it's even a good idea to wipe them off, spread them in a towel so they'll dry off.
And then when you're ready to cook them-- and this is very important-- you never heat them until just before you're going to cook them.
You put them as they are into a pot over heat, and you want to dry off any of the water which is still remaining.
And then we're going to... put on butter and lemon juice and parsley and flavor them.
But if they're all wet, the butter isn't going to stick to them, and we want sort of a nice, lovely, buttery glaze on them.
You can put in just as much butter as you want.
I shall be reasonable and put in about two or three tablespoons.
I've got about two pounds of beans here, and that's enough for four people.
You find that when you cook beans this way... (clears throat) (laughs): I'm still choking on that bean.
When you cook them this way, people like them so much that they eat a lot more than they usually would.
Now, when you've got all the water evaporated, you put in some butter and keep tossing them like that.
And they need salt and pepper.
I'm putting in about... a little over a quarter teaspoon of salt at first because you don't want to oversalt them.
And then just keep shaking them.
You notice the shake I'm using is sort of an up-and-down, circular motion like that.
And then it's always nice to have a little bit of... (clears throat) lemon juice in.
That just peps them up a little bit.
And then put on a little bit more butter.
You see, this heating up doesn't take very long.
I didn't put in any pepper.
Now taste them.
Always remember to taste.
And just use your fingers.
Don't be sort of itsy-bitsy about things.
Oh, and be sure you get enough salt on.
That's delicious now.
And when they're thoroughly heated through, you can put on some parsley, and then they're ready to serve.
You see that heating takes very little time, and it makes so much difference in the way they taste.
You always toss them with some parsley first and then sprinkle on some more just before you serve them.
They look lovely, and they just taste delicious.
I'll put them to the side now.
And now we're going to do some broiled stuffed mushrooms.
And this is a very quick and easy dish to do and simply delicious.
I've got these nice, fresh mushrooms, including a monster one here.
And to do this, these have all been washed, and I've trimmed the stems off a little bit.
You hold it and then very gently push the stem back and forth until it comes out.
You want the mushrooms to stay whole.
And then you chop them up.
I love this great, big chopping knife.
Start out that way.
Of course, with any of these things, you've got to have a really sharp knife.
Then hold your knife in your two hands like that and just chop back and forth.
If you don't have a sharp knife, you just mash the mushrooms, and what you want them are in distinct little pieces.
We're going to chop them up into about a 16th-inch pieces.
If you were starting out to study as a French chef, you'd spend about your first two years chopping mushrooms and onions and everything else.
You'd think you've got all your mushrooms chopped fine enough, and the chef would say, "No!
It's not nearly fine enough."
There isn't any quicker way of doing this.
Now, the stuffing that we're going to make for these mushrooms is called a duxelles.
And the trick about this one is after you've gotten them all chopped up, you're going to squeeze the juice out of it.
Because anytime you make a mushroom stuffing, you cook the mushrooms, and you want all the juice to be out of them.
Otherwise, if you put it as a stuffing, the juice would come out as, say, as the mushrooms cook, and it would all be sort of gooey, which we don't want.
And I've got them in the corner of a clean towel.
And then you just fold them up like that, and then twist them.
Until the juice comes out.
There's not very much there.
You can see there's a little tiny bit.
You can save that juice, such as it is, for a sauce.
And then we're going to sauté the mushrooms in butter.
We've not got very much, so I'll use not even quite a tablespoon of butter.
And when that gets hot-- or it doesn't even make a difference if it's absolutely hot in this case-- in they go.
And then to give a little more flavor, we'll add some minced shallot.
You notice that cutting down this way and cutting across-- do practice this method because it's so quick.
It does take a little practice.
Takes you about a week or so to learn, but anytime you're going to chop anything, just practice on these various things, and you'll find that you've learned it very quickly.
Now, that is just going to cook for four or five minutes.
And you just have to stand over it because you don't want the mushrooms to burn.
They're done when the mushroom pieces begin to separate from each other.
Just keep stirring it around.
It smells awfully good.
That little bit of shallot is just delicious in them.
Then after the pieces begin to separate from each other in two or three minutes, we're then going to put some cream in them.
And so, because you want, as the French say, a liaison, so you want to have a little bit of flour.
This is really like making a mushroom sauce.
I'm putting in about half a tablespoon of flour.
And, as always, you cook the flour for about a minute or two so that you won't have a horrid, pasty, floury taste.
And after that's cooked about a minute or two, I'm using very heavy cream.
And you can put in...
In this thing, again, the proportions aren't particularly important.
You put in enough cream so that after it's cooked down for a minute, it makes a fairly thick mass.
I'd put a little bit more in.
And then we want to have some salt and pepper.
You see, this is really a very quick thing to do.
Now just a little bit of salt.
And then here are our mushroom caps all ready to be filled.
And it's a good idea to rub them with butter.
You see again I always use my hands.
You just, really, if you're squeamish about using your hands, it just takes you a very long time to cook, and you're not going to be as efficient about it as you should.
Now our mushroom sauce is thickened up, and we put in a little bit of parsley.
And then we just fill the mushrooms with the sauce.
These mushrooms are just, well, they're delicious all by themselves.
You can put them on toast or surround a roast with them.
And that big, giant mushroom's going to take just about all the rest of the sauce.
That's a lovely one.
When you're buying mushrooms, it's best to go to a supermarket that has them all loose, and then you can pick out the ones that you want.
There, and then that gets a little bit of grated Swiss cheese on the top.
And you can set them aside then, and then gratinée them.
I mean, brown them under the broiler when you're ready to serve them.
And it takes about five minutes, and you want to set them, oh, about five or six inches from a hot broiler so that they'll heat through and cook slowly while the top is browning.
So those are all done now.
And now we're going to do spinach braised in butter.
If you're not very much of a spinach fan, I think you'll find this an absolutely delicious way of doing it.
Now, this is fresh whole spinach, which has been cooked just the way the beans are, in a large pot of boiling water, but cooked only for about a minute or two until it becomes limp like this.
And before you cook your spinach-- and this is going to be chopped spinach-- so... to take the stem off, you just hold it in your hand like that and pull the stem off.
Most of the frozen spinach you get, they haven't done this.
They couldn't possibly sell it for the reasonable price they do if they did.
Then after you've got your spinach all ready, you wash it by pumping it up and down in water.
And then you put it in your very hot water.
I mean, your boiling water.
And now we're going to chop the spinach.
No, first what we're going to do is to squeeze the water out of it.
Now this is essential if you're going to make lovely tasting, braised spinach.
You just squeeze it like that, and you can save all of that juice for a sauce or...
I mean, not a sauce-- for a soup or you can drink it.
There isn't very much taste in it.
This is something that often horrifies Americans, 'cause they've been-- I don't know-- sort of buffaloed into doing nothing about a vegetable, and just the idea of squeezing it just seems like sacrilege.
But this is so, so good.
You'll find that if you cook it this way, you'll have a lot of spinach lovers in the house.
Now I'm going to chop it.
The one thing you want to be very careful about spinach is, it easily picks up a metallic taste.
I don't know why.
So I'm very careful, and I chop with a stainless steel knife.
In fact, I save this as my spinach-chopping knife.
I've tried the frozen chopped spinach, and that's got an awful lot of water in it.
I haven't really decided what the best way to do is.
I usually get the, uh... frozen leaf spinach, and then let it defrost, and it comes up to the same point that you just saw it now.
It's watery, so you just squeeze it out, and it turns out very well.
And then again, as with the beans, you... you let it cook for a minute or two to get rid of the water.
Then when it begins sticking to the bottom of the pan, you've gotten rid of the excess water.
And then again, we're going to put a little bit of... flour in.
I've got about two cups of spinach, and I'm going to use about a tablespoon and a half of flour.
And you want some butter in, too.
And let that cook for about a minute, so that you've cooked your flour.
And then you add either cream or chicken stock.
I'm going to add cream this time 'cause it's so nice.
Put in about a half cup and let it cook very slowly.
Before that, you put in some salt and some pepper.
And you see the... the... liquid is now all absorbed.
You add a little bit more.
You can even do this with just water, but if you do, add some onion.
And then you cover your pan, and let it cook very slowly for about five... for about 15 minutes.
Because as you remember, the spinach has just been blanched for about half a minute, so it isn't really cooked yet.
And then keep looking at it because it quickly sticks to the bottom of the pan.
Now, spinach goes with fish and with chicken breasts, and it's an absolutely delicious dish when cooked this way.
Now, here are all our vegetables.
We have our spinach here, which is spinach braised in cream, with poached eggs on it.
And we have carrots.
There are our carrots.
And we have-- this is the way your mushrooms look when they have been...
I saved the biggest one to show you that.
But this would have shrunk up about two-thirds, but there it is when it's all broiled.
And we have our lovely fresh green beans.
So all of these... You see, all of these can be done ahead and then heated up just before you're going to serve.
Now, carrots are a lovely vegetable cooked this way.
They go extremely well with roasts, or they're good in a combination of other vegetables like... Do you remember our little braised onions that we've done several times, with carrots and onions and quartered, sautéed mushrooms?
And this spinach-- I'm most anxious for you to try it, because it is so good.
This... this cream in it or a stock, makes it a lovely bed for anything.
If you're doing poached filets of fish, for instance, you put a bed of creamed spinach or spinach cooked in stock underneath, and then layer filets of fish over it, and then put on a lovely sauce, and you have a perfectly delicious dish.
And these are...
These broiled mushrooms are extremely nice just as a first course.
Take the crusts off some white bread, and sauté them in butter until they're a light golden brown, and then put three or four of these mushrooms on, and you have a perfectly lovely hot appetizer.
Now, we're going to use this vegetable plate as a luncheon dish, or a light supper.
And we have hot French rolls and an Alsatian Traminer wine, which is a lovely, light, flowery wine that's not too dry and goes perfectly beautifully with vegetables.
And we also have a pitcher of hollandaise sauce in case anybody likes that kind of thing.
Now, I hope that I've done this clearly enough so that you can do these vegetables yourself.
I think the most important one is the large pot of rapidly boiling water into which you drop either your spinach or your green beans, and remember that it only boils for about four or five minutes.
You keep tasting it, and when it's just right, you drain all the water off and then refresh it in cold water.
And that refreshing is the most important... well, the second most important part of it 'cause it stops the cooking.
As you can imagine, if you drained it off into a colander and then the beans all sat on top of each other, it would... they'd lose all their color and freshness.
And by refreshing them in cold water, you retain the lovely, crunchy taste of a wonderful fresh vegetable.
And next time, we're going to do veal scallops the French way, which is a quick and lovely dish to do.
So that's all for today on The French Chef.
This is Julia Child.
♪ ♪ ANNOUNCER: Julia Child is coauthor of the book Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
The French Chef is made possible by a grant from Safeway Stores.
Captioned by Media Access Group at WGBH access.wgbh.org