Julia and Jacques’s Gravlax

Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home

Julia Child’s Annual Birthday Tribute

Julia Child and Jacques Pépin
Cooking at Home

Joyeux Anniversaire Julia Child! Today would have been Julia’s 110th birthday. It has been an honor, a passion, and a tradition to celebrate her birthday on Taste With The Eyes ever since I started this blog in 2007.

This year, we are watching a super-charming episode of the cooking show Julia and Jacques: Cooking at Home “IT’S SALMON DAY!” where they go on to prepare a half-dozen salmon dishes together.

Here we are going to spotlight their gravlax presentations from the show and from their cookbook. Julia calls hers “Quick Gravlax” and Jacques calls his “Instant Gravlax.” Both different and both fabulous.

Screen Shot: Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home
Screen Shot: Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home

The television series was the inspiration for the cookbook of the same name. In both, one can sense the pleasure the two have cooking together, tasting, exchanging ideas, joshing with each other, and raising a glass to savor the fruits of their labor.

In this one episode Julia gives Jacques a hard time about using black pepper instead of white pepper in a light colored dish…and he gives it right back.

Jacques asks Julia to add salt and pepper to the salmon tartare they are making together.

“Would you rather have black or white pepper?” teases Julia.

“Black, black without any question,” says Jacques.

“You like speckled food,” declares Julia.

“I do. I also like taste in the food and the black pepper has more taste than the white one,” retorts Jacques.

Again and again they demonstrate that cooking is endlessly fascinating and challenging, and while ultimately personal, it is a joy to be shared!

Julia’s Quick Gravlax

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Old School House Salad

Old School House Salad, Italian Dressing

Old School House Salad

Iceberg Lettuce, Tomato Wedges, Cucumber
Red Onion, Radish, Italian Dressing

When I was contemplating the ingredients for my Old School House Salad, the kind my mom served in the 60s and early 70s, there could only be one type of lettuce, Iceberg. Nice and crisp Iceberg ✅. Apparently iceberg aka crisphead, shipped on ice, was the only variety of lettuce that traveled well via train across the country back then. Especially from California to Chicago…

Cucumber ✅ Red Onion ✅ Radish ✅. And when it came to tomatoes, we always had tomato wedges in our salad. But curiously enough, nary a cherry tomato in sight back then. Turns out, cherry tomatoes did not become ubiquitous until the 1980s.  Our tomatoes were medium-sized, red, round, and tasty. Tomato Wedges ✅. And I do recall that my dad liked Peperoncini ✅.

Italian dressing came in a bottle, made by Wish-Bone. It sat in the center of the dinner table along with bottles of Thousand Island, French, and Russian so everyone could dress their own salad their way. No Ranch though, Ranch dressing didn’t become popular until the early 1990s. Hidden Valley Ranch was first marketed as an herb & spice packet to mix with mayonnaise and buttermilk at home. It wasn’t even sold as a bottled dressing until 1983.

Also absent from our house salad – carrots, celery, mushrooms, nuts, seeds, olives – and I don’t think we ever had an avocado in our Chicago home until the early 70s when we “discovered” Mexican food. We did eat a lot of black olives though, they were served on a relish tray, not in the salad.

Old School House Salad Recipe

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Crab Avocado Rice Bowl

Crab Avocado Rice Bowl

Dungeness Crab & Avocado Rice Bowl

Crab and avocado have been a happy couple long before the invention of the California sushi roll. And in addition to melted butter, mayonnaise has long been a classic sauce to pair with crab… Here, warm seasoned rice is topped with steamed Dungeness crab leg meat, sliced avocado, diced cucumber, and creamy umami-rich Kewpie mayonnaise. The dish is seasoned with a flavorful furikake and drizzled with a syrupy tamari glaze. The combination of flavors, textures, and colors is wonderfully balanced and extremely tasty. Pretty too.

Crab & Avocado Rice Bowl Recipe

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Crispy-Skin King Salmon is the Star

Crispy-Skin King Salmon

Crispy-Skin King Salmon
Israeli Couscous with Feta, Herbs, Tomatoes
Smoky Garbanzos

This is king salmon season, and the star of this mouthwatering, vibrant dish is Wild King Salmon from Alaska.

Wild Alaska king salmon are the gourmet’s salmon because of their large luscious flakes and high fat content — sometimes twice that of sockeye and coho. King salmon store this fat for their journey up North America’s longest river systems. When you eat wild Alaska king, you’re tasting the anticipation of this river journey in the fish’s flesh.

Like a well-marbled steak, this fat melts into the salmon, giving king salmon an unrivaled mouth feel. And remember, these are the good fats: the natural, marine-derived omega-3s that heart doctors celebrate. Because of this fat, king salmon is perfect for grilling and searing with just salt and pepper. King salmon needs little else. (from Sitka Salmon Shares)

In today’s dish, the salmon is first rubbed with an olive oil blend then simply seasoned with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. It is cooked until the skin is perfectly crisp and the flesh is just perfectly cooked through.

King Salmon Recipe

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Old Bay Shrimp Cake Sliders

Old Bay Shrimp Cake Sliders

Old Bay Shrimp Cake Sliders

Old Bay takes the place of ordinary salt & pepper in these juicy, flavorful shrimp cakes. It is a classic seafood seasoning made of celery salt (salt, celery seed), spices (including red pepper, black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves), and paprika. Originally created in Baltimore, Maryland over 75 years ago it is a classic for a good reason…it truly enhances the flavor of most shellfish, in this instance – shrimp cakes. Fans of Old Bay can read the interesting history here.

A toasty slider bun from the bakery is smeared with creamy mayonnaise then layered with a succulent shrimp cake, crunchy cucumber, tangy pickled red onion, sub-style oil & vinegar slaw, and just a sprinkle more of Old Bay.

We loved this sandwich for its petite size, the balance of textures and flavors and colors, and especially the absolutely delicious shrimp cake recipe. Thinking of using this shrimp cake in an Eggs Benedict dish soon….

Old Bay Shrimp Cake Sliders Recipe

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