Like probably half of the bloggers in American, I’ve been to see Julie and Julia since it came out in theaters a couple weeks ago. I rarely see movies in the theater, so it was a real treat (especially considering Mr. V and I just saw Harry Potter AND My Life in Ruins in the last month or two). My sister and I went, and, of course, we stopped at the grocery store on the way back home, ravenous.
That is when I got it in my silly mind I wanted to make braised cucumbers, which Julie declares in the movie “a revelation.” So I bought two, threw them in the fridge, and didn’t touch them until tonight (a week later). I bought Mastering the Art of French Cooking after I read the book, so I already had it there, resting on my cookbook shelf. I have used it once in approximately three years: to make a one-layer cake that would not exit its pan, despite the requisite buttering and flouring of said pan.
This is how you make braised cucumbers.
Peel the cucumbers. I used two, and the recipe called for six, so I cut the recipe in thirds. Cut the cucumbers into what Julia Child calls “lengthwise strips about 3/8″ thick.” And then the strips in 2″ pieces. Pour them into a bowl. Then remember you were supposed to seed the cucumbers, so take (most of) them back out and slice out the seeds.
Add 2 tsp. white wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp. salt, and the tiniest pinch ever (really, what does 1/24 of a tsp. even look like?) of white sugar. Stir it up in the big bowl and let sit at least half an hour.
Take your daughter upstairs for a bath and playtime and promptly forget about the cucumbers until you go back downstairs and realize it’s been 45 minutes.
Drain the cucumbers and pat them dry in a dish towel.
Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in the microwave. Put it and the cucumbers in a small baking dish. Add a couple shakes of dried dill or basil. Remember that you were cutting the recipe in third and should have only used 1 tablespoon of butter. Decide it will probably just taste REALLY good this way.
Try to add black pepper to the dish while your daughter scurries around your feet and eats long-forsaken crumbs off what you thought was your clean kitchen floor. Try to shoo her away from the premises long enough to stick the dish in a 375 degree oven.
Recall that you probably should have taken a picture of the dish before it went in the oven. Lazily try to take a picture of the dish IN the oven, while still trying to keep the baby away from an open heat device. Fail miserably because you have a crazy tremor in your left hand that makes it impossible to hold a camera steady.
Let the cucumbers cook for an hour, opening to stir them around 2 or 3 times.
These beautiful lovers were my dinner for one tonight, but they would make a fine side dish for two. Or you could actually make it for six by tripling all the ingredients except the butter (or defy the love handles and just throw a whole stick in).
2 cucumbers, peeled
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
a pinch sugar
1 T. butter
1/8 tsp. dried dill or basil
a few grinds fresh black pepper
Cut cucumbers into lengthwise quarters. Use a spoon or knife to remove seeds. Cut long strips into 2-inch pieces. Combine in a bowl with vinegar, salt, and sugar. Let sit 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 375F.
Melt butter. Combine butter, dill or basil, cucumbers (patted dry), and pepper in a small baking dish.
Cook for an hour, stirring a few times during cooking.
Serves 2 as a side dish.