Spent Friday night ushering in the long Labor Day weekend with 4 girlfriends who gathered for a Julia Child-inspired dinner at the house of a friend who is a talented cook.
The hostess had prepared chicken with a white wine and mushroom sauce and a smidgen of cream. Sliced potatoes roasted in the oven with Swiss cheese and cream. Tangy ratatouille to cut the richness of the rest of the dishes.
Others had brought appetizers, wine and breads to round out the evening.
After work, I'd rushed home to finish my contribution -- a tarte tatin for dessert. While it took me 35 minutes to slice into 1/8-inch thicknesses the 9 or 10 apples I'd peeled and cored, it was a very zen experience. Counting each slice until I had eight kept me focused on maintaining even slices.
It hadn't caramelized, as Julia had predicted. (But since this was the only dessert on the menu, I opted not to follow the fix of smothering it with confectioner's sugar and broiling it, which seemed a recipe for disaster given my oven's quirky nature.) The resulting sweet and buttery, cinnamon-scented apples were delicious nonetheless.
And in the end, surrounded by apple peels and droplets of juice scattered everywhere in my kitchen, I felt I'd achieved something -- some small aspect of French cooking. I vowed to make more and I could see why Julie Powell set the goal of cooking every recipe in the book as goal.
The comfort from seeing a pile of ingredients come together into something that's satisfying and true can't be beat.
As one of my friends said when raising a toast at the start of our shared meal, Bon Appetit!