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The Most Popular Julia Child Recipes To Celebrate Her Birthday

Cassoulet With Chicken, Sausage, &  Bacon
[1] Cassoulet. Here’s a recipe (photo © Reserve Media).

Crepes Suzette
[2] Crêpes Suzette. Here’s a recipe (photo © Betty Crocker).

Reine de Saba Chocolate Cake Recipe
[3] Reine de Saba cake. Here’s the recipe (photo © ).

Quiche Lorraine Recipe
[4] Quiche Lorraine. Here’s a recipe (photo © Natasha’s Kitchen).

Vichyssoise Chilled Soup
[5] Vichyssoise. Here’s a recipe (photo © Umami Information Center).


August 15th is Julia Child’s birthday. Julia Carolyn McWilliams was born on August 15, 1912, in Pasadena, California. She dies a few days short of her 92nd birthday, on August 13, 2004, in Montecito California.

From a well-to-do family, she lived a life of privilege. She graduated from Smith College in 1934 and moved to New York City, where she worked as a copywriter in the advertising department of W. & J. Sloane, a fine furniture store.

In 1942, after the U.S. entry into World War II, she joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS)—after finding that, at 6’2″, she was too tall to enlist in the Women’s Army Corps (WACs) or in the U.S. Navy’s WAVES.

While posted to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) she met Paul Cushing Child, also an OSS employee, and the two were married in 1946. Paul, who had lived in Paris as an artist and poet, was known for his sophisticated palate and introduced his wife to fine cuisine.

And so begins the legend.

The State Department assigned Paul to Paris, and Julia enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. She joined the women’s cooking club, Le Cercle des Gourmettes, where she met Simone Beck, who was writing a French cookbook for Americans with her friend Louisette Bertholle.

Beck invited Child to work with them to give the book the right appeal to Americans. The result: the iconic Mastering The Art Of French Cooking, published in 1961, with 524 recipes which became so popular that the publisher released a second, equally weighty Volume II in 1970.

In 1951, Child, Beck, and Bertholle had begun to teach cooking to American women in Child’s Paris kitchen, calling their informal school L’école des Trois Gourmandes (The School of the Three Food Lovers). When Child returned to the U.S., she continued her teaching and had a show on the local public television station.

In the 1970s and 1980s, she was the star of television programs, including Julia Child & Company, Julia Child & More Company, and Dinner at Julia’s. In the process, she not only expanded the awareness of French cuisine, but taught French cooking to enthusiastic fans nationwide—becoming an award-winning national treasure.

Here’s more about her life.

So what are the most popular Julia Child recipes?

There’s no single list, of course, but here’s one from Southern Living magazine, “10 Essential Julia Child Recipes Everyone Should Master.” In alphabetical order, they are:

  • Boeuf Bourguignon
  • Cassoulet (photo #1)
  • Chicken Waterzooi
  • Coq a Vin
  • Crêpes Suzette (photo #2)
  • French Baguette
  • Quiche Lorraine (photo #4)
  • Tarte Tatin
  • Vichyssoise (photo #5)
  • Vinaigrette
    We’ve made most of them but for two: French Baguette and Chicken Waterzooi, the latter of which we’d never heard of (etymology: water (“water”) +‎ zooi (“something boiled”).
    Chicken Waterzooi

    It turns out that the name and the recipe are Flemish, a wine-accented Belgian stew originally made with fish, but subsequently of chicken.

    chicken nestled in a silky sauce of cream and egg yolks. It’s

    Julia swapped the fish for chicken and layered the chicken with vegetables, all simmered in chicken stock and vermouth. “Chicken Waterzooi is undoubtedly one of Child’s most underrated recipes (if not for the fun name alone),” says Southern Living.

    Here’s the recipe, which she gave to The New York Times in 1987.

    The Times commented:

    “It is easy weeknight cooking: the dish can be assembled in the morning before work, or even the night before. Then, in the evening, simmer it for about half an hour, and then use the cooking liquid to make a light but creamy sauce. Serve with potatoes or good bread.”
    Reine de Saba Cake

    And how about a birthday cake for Julia?

    The Reine de Saba cake (Queen Of Sheba) is one of the first French cakes that Julia Child ever ate (photo #3). She could not help but fall in love with the rich, chocolate cake, so sophisticated compared to American cakes [source].

    The chocolate was combined with ground almonds, rum, and meringue, and topped with a chocolate ganache and an optional decoration of almond slices.

    Here’s the recipe.

    Happy Birthday, Julia!





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