Julie Powell Christopher, of Glen Ridge, was one of three people chosen from across the country to be on ABC’s The Chew for a special tribute episode on Wednesday, August 15 at 1 pm, celebrating Julia Child’s 100th birthday. Julie is not a chef or culinary school graduate. She works in marketing for a publishing company in NYC but has a passion for cooking. Very much like the other Julie Powell who became famous for her blog and book Julie and Julia, this Julie Powell cooked her way through the entire French Culinary Institute textbook and wrote about the experience in her blog called Le Petite Gourmess.
Julia Child has always been an inspiration to Julie, so when she learned that The Chew was dedicating an episode to the legend, Julie responded to their call to find “the ultimate Julia Child fan.” Not only did she have to go through several rounds of vetting (including putting together a video of herself), she had to compete against two other contestants by selecting and perfecting a favorite Julia Child dish. On the show, each contestant was asked to talk about their recipe, explain why they’re the ultimate fan and then do an impression of Julia’s famous “Bon appetit!” phrase. After the hosts tasted the chosen dishes and declared a winner, the Ultimate Fan then cooked their recipe right there on the show with the hosts.
We can’t reveal who won (you’ll need to tune in for that!), but you can check out who Julie was up against and hear her great Julia Child impression. And as an added bonus, we have Julie’s recipe for her version of Julia Child’s Ratatouille just for you:
1lb firm eggplant
1/4 cup olive oil, plus 1-2 TBS more, as needed
1-2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
2-3 green peppers (or a mix of red, yellow and green), peeled, stems and core removed, sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1-2 tsp. Herbes de Provence
Ground black pepper (2-3 twists)
4-5 tomatoes, peeled*, cored, seeded and juiced, then sliced about 1/2″ thick
(Reserve 1/2 cup of tomatoes and 1-2 TBS of the juice.)
1-2 TBS fresh parsley or basil, chopped
1) Peel eggplant, cut off stem end, and slice lengthwise into uniform pieces (about 3″ long x 1″ wide by 1/2″ thick). Do the same to the zucchini (be sure to scrub it clean), but do not peel. Take sliced eggplant and zucchini and toss in bowl with salt and then transfer to colander and let sit for at least 20 minutes to get rid of excess water. Pat dry. (Doing this will make browning easier.)
2) Heat the olive oil in large skillet and sauté eggplant and zucchini in batches, about 1-2 mins. per side, until lightly browned, but still firm. Remove from heat, set aside on paper towels.
3) Using same pan, adding more olive oil (1-2 TBS) if needed, slowly cook the sliced onions and peppers until tender, about 10 mins. Do not let brown. Gently stir in garlic and Herbes de Provence and season with salt and pepper.
4) Add sliced tomatoes (minus the 1/2 cup reserved) to onion mixture and season them with salt. Cover pan and cook on low heat until tomatoes start to release juice. Remove lid, raise heat and let juices bubble and boil (tilt pan and spoon any excess liquid over the veggies) until mostly evaporated. Remove pan from heat.
5) Spoon 1/3 of the tomato/onion mixture into the bottom of the casserole then top with a layer of 1/2 of the zucchini and eggplant (set aside 4 nice-looking pieces of each) and continue layering, ending with the tomato/onion mixture. Top with the reserved eggplant and zucchini slices and the 1/2 cup of reserved sliced tomato. Add 1-2 TBS of the reserved tomato juice and sprinkle salt on top.
6) Cover and simmer for 10 mins. on low heat. Uncover, raise heat slightly (be careful not to let veggies on the bottom of pan burn) and cook for another 15 mins. or so, tilting pan throughout to spoon up juices and baste veggies. Adjust seasoning if needed. Ratatouille is done when juices have mostly evaporated and only a few tasty spoonfuls of liquid remain.
7) Remove from heat and set aside uncovered. Serve hot, warm or cold, sprinkle with parsley or basil.