Food blogger and best-selling author Julie Powell died at 49 in October, but the legacy of her cooking adventures lives on.
Powell was best known for her 2002 food blog “The Julie/Julia Project,” where she set off to cook all 524 recipes listed in award-winning chef Julia Child’s book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1” in one year. The personal approach of Powell’s blog, often including anecdotes of her own early 30s ennui and struggles of recreating French recipes with little cooking experience in a cramped New York apartment, set the blog apart from the refined conventions of food writing popular at the time.
Readers were refreshed by her honesty. In a remembrance profile for Vulture, writer Rax King insisted, “It’s hard to overstate Powell’s impact on food writing at the turn of the millennium. How much glorious writing would be explicitly devoted to home cooking without her?”
Powell achieved every blogger’s dream when her online kitchen vignettes graduated from her desktop to bookshelves nationwide with the book “Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen” published in 2005. Her popularity skyrocketed further after Nora Ephron wrote and directed the 2009 film “Julie & Julia,” starring A-listers Amy Adams as Powell and Meryl Streep as Julia Child.
The “Julie & Julia” film grossed $129.5 million at the box office, and the book was a best-seller. Powell’s playful approach to cooking and writing inspired a new wave of people who wanted to “maximize the pride and the pleasure to be had in making and consuming delicious things,” commented journalist Frank Bruni.
While a Peabody and Emmy award winning television chef’s dense cookbook on French cuisine may seem like an intimidating addition to your kitchen, Powell posited that her adventures were about “learning to sniff out the secret doors of possibility” over mastery of the craft. You don’t need culinary experience or to stumble through 524 recipes of French cuisine to ignite that sense of wonder in your home.
Here are three easy recipes from “The Julie/Julia Project” to add adventure to your kitchen and convince your friends you are a culinary pro.
Quiche Lorraine is a perfect example of the type of cooking Julie Powell loved: easy, delicious, and ostensibly fancy. This fluffy egg custard will make you feel like a French chef in four steps.
Fear not, Puree de Pommes de Terre a L’Ail is a lot simpler than it sounds. As Powell put it in her 2002 “Julie/Julia” entry, “that’s garlic mashed potatoes to you and me.” Here is a perfect side dish to add to your holiday roster and convince your family you’ve mastered French cooking.
Crème caramel is a sweet caramel custard also known as flan. When Powell made this “warm and yummery and great” caramel custard in 2003, she considered it her best and easiest dessert.
For the caramel
For the custard