To help my daughter become more familiar with basic French foods and vocabulary we dusted off The French Chef Cookbook by Julia Child (published in 1968) and set about to create some of the recipes in it. The French Chef was Julia Child’s second cookbook. She wrote it after Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961) while working on her then new television series, The French Chef.
Unlike other cookbooks that are sectioned by food type, the chapters in The French Chef Cookbook are organized by television show. If Julia was preparing veal scallops and potatoes gratin in a particular show, that is what is found in that particular chapter. As well, the dishes are written in both French and English, so reading through it can be a fun way to become familiar with French culinary terms.
After reading through the cookbook, I quickly found several recipes to try and Julia’s recipe for Mousse Glacee aux Fraise (strawberry sherbet) quickly became a crowd-pleaser. One thing that I like about his recipe is that it does not require an ice cream maker or any special equipment. It takes about 10 minutes to whip up, a few hours to freeze and a bit of stirring while it freezes, but it comes out perfectly.
I prepare this recipe as it is written below, but you could make adaptations like incorporating other fruits or berries in the mix. And keep in mind that this recipe was written in 1968 long before most homes were equipped with the modern kitchen conveniences we are familiar with today. When we made this the first time, we followed the recipe directions as written, but after that, we employed a food processor for pureeing the berries. Below is a word-for-word excerpt from The French Chef Cookbook.
2-quarts fresh strawberries or 4 ten-ounce packages frozen strawberries, thawed and drained, and no sugar.
A mixing bowl1 1/2 cup “instant superfine” sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 egg whites
Optional: 1 cup chilled heavy cream
Hull and wash the strawberries; puree through a food mill or sieve set over a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and lemon juice, beat for a minute or two until sugar has completely dissolved and you can feel no granules on your tongue. Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until they form soft peaks, then beat into the strawberry puree. Egg whites discourage large ice crystals from forming.
Set freezer to zero degrees, or ice compartment to coldest temperatures. Cover and freeze for several hours or until puree has almost set. Beat vigorously with a wire whip for several minutes to break up ice crystals and to lighten the texture; if you want cream, add it at this point and beat just enough so that the mixture holds its shape in a spoon. Cover and return to freezer until sherbet has fully set. (Note: First freezing takes four to five hours; if it has hardened too much for beating, let it thaw until softened; second freezing takes three to four hours or leave overnight. If you wish to speed things up, freeze in a shallow pan or in ice cube trays.).
Serve the sherbet In a decorative bowl, individual dishes, or cookie cups. Decorate with whole or sliced strawberries.
1. Child, Julia, The French Chef Cookbook, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1968