Today marks Julia Child's birthday. To commemorate the occasion, we'd like to run down a few classic French cooking techniques (one of which is also an iconic dish) that have become commonplace, all thanks to Julia, who worked painstakingly to bring French cuisine to American homes.
Saute: The literal translation means "to jump," which refers to the constant movement of food in the pan while cooking over high heat with little fat. We saute many things at Everyday Food, especially quick-cooking vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, spinach, zucchini, broccolini, and more. Bonus fact: Stir-fry is just another term for saute.
Omelet: It is said that there are 101 pleats in the French toque, each representing a method for cooking eggs. It can be argued that the omelet is the king of all egg dishes. You can't walk into a diner anywhere in America and not see it on the menu. Not only is it a dish, it is it's own technique, and it is such an important one that Julia dedicated a whole episode of The French Chef to it. (If you can, find that episode. It is such a treat to watch).
Knife Skills: Second only to a fine-tuned palate, knife skills are the paramount skill of a chef. It's more than just making ingredients smaller so that they are easier to eat. The French have a very strict guidelines governing the various cuts they use. Pieces need to be the uniformly sized so that they cook in the same amount of time. Some cuts even make a dish what it is: No one wants to eat coleslaw made with whole leaves of cabbage instead of the fine shred that melts into rich mayo heaven that we all know and love. What about shoestring potatoes? They're always more fun than chunky potato wedges.
There are way more techniques that we could cover, and if you guys are interested in such a weekly column, speak up! We'd be happy to oblige. And bon appetit!