Flicks And Food With The Domestic Diva: JULIE & JULIA Moules Marinieres With Pommes Frites

Final From the moment I set about to write a "Flicks And Food" column, I knew this day would come.  I mean, how could I resist writing a recipe inspired by the biggest food movie of the year? 

I'm speaking of JULIE & JULIA, of course!

That wonderful Meryl Streep vehicle based on the book based on the blog.  Are you still with me?  That's right, the whole enchilada was dreamed up by food blogger Julie Powell (the infamous Julie of the title) who dared to cook her way through Julia Child's  tomb "Mastering The Art Of French Cooking" in 365 days and blog about it.  An insane mission?  Yes!  Filled with kitchen temper tantrums, marital strife, occasionally disastrous meals, but also occasionally miraculous ones, too?  Yes!  That led the world to rediscover the national treasure that is Julie Child?  Yes!

I'll admit that when when the movie first rolled into theaters, I chafed at its very existence.  It's not that I dislike Meryl Streep (for the record, I quite love her), or that I think writer-director Nora Ephron has lost her charm (for the record, I think she did a great job), or that Julie Powell annoys the living daylights out of me (actually, she does).  Rather, it's that every conversation I had after the movie premiered went something like this:

Person: So now that you're not a high-powered executive dominating Hollywood, what exactly are you doing with yourself and your boatloads of free time seeing that you're 1) unmarried and 2) childless?

Me: Uh, actually, I have a puppy.  (Off person's pitiful look).  Oh, and I'm writing a book, and it just so happens that I write a food blog, too. (I brace myself for the inevitable follow up question).

Person:  Have you seen the movie JULIE & JULIA?  Since you're a food blogger and it's about a food blogger, you must therefore have undying love for it.

Me: (begrudgingly) Yes, I've seen it. 

As if Julie Powell is the only person in the history of the world to ever cook and blog about it! 

Alright, maybe I'm overreacting, but after the thousandth person asked me this for the thousandth time, it did get a little tiresome.  Because the fact is that they were comparing me to Julie, but I wished they'd been comparing me to Julia.  While Julia lived in a time before blogs (god forbid), she too cooked and wrote about it, both in her masterful cookbooks and revealing memoir, "My Life In France."  She also starred in a television show.  And really, it's Julia who shines like a beacon of culinary light in the movie.  Unlike tantrum-throwing, horrible to her husband Julie, Julia whisks around her kitchen like the eight dwarf Foodie, stirring pots, inventing fabulous recipes and nurturing her too adorable for words husband. That was who I wanted to be compared to.  That was who I wanted to be asked about.  That is who I aspired to be like. 

But I'll admit that maybe I'm being too hard on Julie.  After all, she did bring us Julia, and for that, I should be thanking her from the bottom of my cold, shriveled food blogger heart.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I should confess that I've been cooking through Julia Child's recipes from Boeuf Bourguignon (actually, I made Bison Bourguignon) to Whole Roast Duckling, but today I thought I'd write up my version of the French classic, Moules Marinieres (mussels) with Pommes Frites (fries). This is one of my favorite meals to cook up in my "kitchen bistro."  Big, black mussels steamed up in wine full of shallots and herbs, and served with fat garlic fries roasted in the oven, which are healthier than fried fries, but every bit as delicious.  I know mussels can seem scary to tackle, but they cook super fast, they're inexpensive (only about $4 a pound), they're chocked full of protein and nutrients, and when they're farm raised, they actually improve the water quality because they filter it through their little bivalves. 

Note: When buying live mussels, you want to make sure their shells are closed (indicating that they're still fresh). Also, don't allow them to be wrapped up in a plastic bag as it will smother them. Instead, they should be wrapped up in paper or a mesh bag. When you bring them home, promptly unwrap them and store in the fridge until you're ready to cook.

Now you see that with a little effort (and a little help from The Domestic Diva), you can be just like Julia Child, too!  Or maybe Julie Powell, depending on how many tantrums you throw in your kitchen while preparing this meal.  Julie or Julia?  You choose!  I'm going with Julia... 

JULIE & JULIA Moules Marinieres with Pommes Frites
Serves 3-4 people
Cooking time: 40 minutes

2 pounds black mussels, cleaned and scrubbed
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 shallot, diced
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper
pommes frites: 
10 Yukon gold or new potatoes, chopped into spears
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons Italian parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the often to 425 degrees.

To make the pommes frites, place the potatoes in a roasting pan and toss them 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes, or until cooked through and a little bit crispy. Remove from the oven and check seasoning (salt and pepper). Toss them with the raw garlic and parsley.

To make the mussels, in a heavy bottomed pot with a lid, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the shallots and saute until translucent. Then, add the white wine, herbs and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Simmer the wine for 3 minutes, or until slightly reduced. Then, reduce the heat to medium and add the mussels. Cover and steam them until cooked, about 6-8 minutes (when they're ready, all of the shells will have popped open). Remove from heat, top with the lemon juice, two tablespoons of parsley and fresh cracked pepper.

To serve, place the mussels in a big bowl in the center of the table and serve family style next to a basket of fries (and French bread if you're feeling fancy).  Make sure to put out empty bowls for the shells.  Dip both fries and bread in the moules marinieres sauce.  Enjoy!

Wine Pairing
For me, this dish screams for a white wine.  I'd suggest a wine with both fruit and acidity, such as a white Burgundy (Chardonnay), a Chenin Clanc or a Pinot Blanc.  For a new world recommendation, I love both Tablas Creek's Antithesis Chardonnay (done in a very Burgundian style with great minerality - $27/bottle) or Tantara's Pinot Blanc (has both great fruit and acidity - $26/bottle).

DD profile pic About the Author
JENNIFER DAWN ROGERS … A graduate of Harvard University and a former film development executive, Jennifer cooks and writes in Los Angeles.  In 2009, she launched her blog Domestic Divas (www.domesticdivasblog.com), which focuses on local, organic cooking, restaurant and wine reviews.  She is currently writing her first novel.

More on Geekweek


Sign in to comment with your TypePad, Twitter, Facebook, Google, Yahoo or OpenID.