"No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing."
Julia Child knew a thing or two about cooking, to say the very least, and her classic French breakfast recipes were no exception. Homegirl devoted a whole chapter of her seminal book Mastering the Art of French Cooking to eggs, after all, so you know she knows what’s up when it comes to making an omelet or poaching an egg. Some of Julia Child’s best breakfast recipes are relatively easy to learn—You only need a few simple ingredients to make her famous soft scrambled eggs. But the trick is in the technique, learning how to treat the ingredients and to find the right consistency. The beauty of Julia Child, however, is her ability to make even the most daunting culinary task seem achievable, that if you practice enough, you, too, can master French cooking.
Sure, some of Child's most involved recipes require timers and multiple dishes and water baths and the like, but those are the ones to bust out for a fancy brunch with family or friends. Other recipes and techniques can be adapted to be part of your everyday repertoire and jazz up an otherwise normal weekday brunch.
But all of Julia Child’s recipes come with a certain elegance that turns every meal into an event, no matter the occasion. So in honor of Julia Child’s birthday, here are nine of her most classic breakfast recipes—or, at the very least, dishes you’d be stoked to have first thing in the morning.
It’s really Child’s omelet flipping technique, which she demonstrates in this clip, that sets her recipe for omelets apart. If you follow it step-by-step, you'll be left with a perfectly tender omelet, free of the brown, bitter spots that come from overcooking.
Child’s recipe for hard-boiled eggs, as outlined in her cookbook The Way to Cook, is extensive. As Julia Moskin explained in the New York Times, Child’s hard-cooked eggs cook for exactly 17 minutes in boiling water, “followed by a 2-minute ice bath, a 10-second return to boiling water, and then yet another ice bath.”
One of Child's later projects was a TV show called Baking with Julia, and every week, Child demonstrated her mastery of French baking, like with this recipe for a traditional French baguette.
Child demonstrated the proper way to make French crepes on her show The French Chef. And though these thin pancakes look easy to whip together, the real key is letting the batter sit for a bit rather than immediately whisking together and tossing into a hot pan.
Pâte à Brioche
If you've been looking for the perfect bread for a thick slice of French toast, look no further than Child's recipe for pâte à brioche from her arguably most well-known TV show The French Chef. This recipe takes several hours to properly prepare and bake, but the results are well worth it.
Another classic French dish from Mastering the Art of French Cooking—and one that she prepared on The French Chef—is the quiche Lorraine. It's basically egg and bacon custard, cooked into a pie crust with cheese, and it's a perfect dish to bring to a big brunch.
Hollandaise is one of the five classic mother sauces that Child outlines in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and it's become a brunch staple. What would eggs Benedict be without hollandaise, after all? If you're looking to make it without cutting any shortcuts, look no further than this episode of The French Chef.
Sure, Child mastered the art of cooking eggs, from omelets to soft-scrambled. But one of the most unique egg recipes in her repertoire was shirred eggs. The elegant dish only requires eggs, butter, and salt and pepper—but the technique required is involved. You'll need a water bath, a broiler, and the ability to baste eggs in butter.