Julie Folmar shares favorite recipes from traveling the world

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Photo special to the Opelika Observer Julie Folmar enjoys cooking for her husband, John, and their two children, Jack and Ada, as well as local family and friends in her professional home kitchen. Julie has collected recipes and techniques for cooking fresh foods from traveling the world.

By Ann Cipperly

Julie Folmar has a love of cooking and exploring various cuisines while traveling. Julie met her husband, John, while attending Auburn University and enjoyed learning about Southern cooking and entertaining from his beloved mother, the late Ada Folmar. Julie is sharing a variety of her recipes, including favorites from traveling the world.

A native of Korat, Thailand, Julie and her family moved to Vicenza, Italy, when she was 12 years old. They lived next door to an Italian family who cooked simple foods and made daily trips to the bakery and market for fresh ingredients. Italy was Julie’s first exposure to open-street markets and the appeal of simple, fresh and generational purveyors of produce, cheese and fresh baked bread.

Julie’s stepfather was in the Army and the Civil Service. When she was 15 years old, they moved to Huntsville. She spent most of her teenage years there and in North Carolina.

Julie attended Auburn University and graduated in 1986 with an accounting degree. She was on the steps of the business school when she met John, who graduated with an Air Force ROTC commission. After marrying in 1987, the two began their life in the military while Julie pursued an opportunity with Delta Airlines.

“Combining the two careers was a challenge,” Julie recalled. “We juggled the rigors of military life while maintaining proximity to the airline’s major hubs. The travels exposed me to a wide range of cultures both home and abroad, as well as influencing my interest in the culinary arts.

“While my love and appreciation for cooking has been a life-long passion. It can be attributed to two primary factors. First, was my mother-in-law, the late Ada Dowdell Wright Folmar, with her Southern charm and hospitality for presenting home-cooked meals and large family gatherings. Her grace and eloquence remain an inspiration for me to this day.”

The second most formative factor for Julie has been the travels throughout the world. She was exposed to the regional aspects of food, which helped her develop an understanding and appreciation for fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.

The Folmars returned to Lee County to live in 2002. Their home was designed around professional-grade appliances, where Julie enjoys preparing home-cooked meals. Julie selected a professional kitchen over a new car. She decided on a Viking professional stove, Sub Zero refrigerator, wine cooler and oven-warmer drawer.

Julie has enjoyed cooking for her husband and their two children, Jack, who is 27 years old, and Ada, who is 22. They are both students at AU. Jack is getting his master’s degree in forestry, while Ada is graduating next semester in hospitality with minors in international studies and business. John works at the School of Pharmacy at Auburn University.

Julie enjoys cooking for family and friends, using skills she learned from her mother-in-law.

“She was a gracious Southern lady,” she said. “Everything was always elegant. She could entertain 200 people, and all the food was prepared well ahead. It was effortless, and she was relaxed before entertaining.”

While she has a love for entertaining too, she doesn’t entertain as formally as Ada did. She enjoys entertaining more casually and serving buffet style. Julie is enjoying using china and crystal she inherited from Ada.

Julie will set the table ahead, polish silver and iron napkins, but most of her cooking is freshly prepared. It is not as easy to have her dishes cooked ahead.

Many of Julie’s recipes have travel stories with each one.

“For example,” she said. “Beef Kafta and Israeli Salad are my favorite to have at an open Mediterranean market, Souk, in the Middle East. I like to shop for spices and unusual items at the Souk in Tel Aviv.

“One of the many benefits of the Delta life is access to the wonderful and uncommon spices and goods of the international markets.”

She brings these spices home to share her foodie experiences from around the world.

“The most fun shopping in my international travels is the outdoor markets,” Julie said. “It may be the fruit and vegetable market that opens each morning, the daily bratwurst and pretzel stalls in Mainz, the weekly antique market of London’s Portobello Road and Madrid’s El Rastro flea market. My all-time favorite is Borough Market in London, strolling and sampling street food-vendors’ bread, cured meats, cheese, olives and pastries. Borough Market has the widest variety of food from humble scotch eggs, salty French confit duck and Tuscan porchetta roast.”

Her bean curry recipe is one of her favorites when she goes to London.

“I often take the tube from central London and explore the Arab Muslim neighborhood, China Town and Brick Lane [(Indian Neighborhood)],” she said.

She explores restaurants and finds the local hole-in-the-wall places that serve excellent food.

“I am so comfortable with public transportation by myself in London, Rome, Munich and Paris,” Julie said. “I have an Oyster card [(London Underground)] loaded always and a Metro card.”

She looks for older people in restaurants to tell if it is a place where locals dine or if it is more tourists. She can tell locals from tourists.

Julie has been a flight attendant for Delta Airlines for 35 years. She is currently on leave because of COVID-19.

When traveling, she not only brings back spices but also fresh pasta, cheeses and wine, among other items. She can use the refrigerator on the plane for storing the cheeses.

Cacio e Pepe is a favorite recipe Julie enjoys while dining in Rome. She finds it is served everywhere in the city, and it is now a favorite to make at home. It is simple and delicious.

One of her most popular recipes is Chicken Scampi, which comes together quickly. Her daughter made the dish for her teachers at Ariccia, Italy, and they relished it.

While Julie has been grounded from travel, she has enjoyed being in the kitchen cooking the dishes her family and friends savor and enjoying the time together lingering at the table.

“I really hope sharing my recipes will inspire people to want to cook and experience priceless time-sharing meals together,” Julie said. “Home cooking has become a lost art. Come to my kitchen and you will see the wear and tear with love and memories.”

If you have been looking for something different to serve your family that has been well tested, you will want to clip and save Julie’s recipes.

Ann Cipperly can be reached at recipes@cipperly.com.

Cacio e Pepe  

Cacio e Pepe translated is “Cheese and Pepper” For centuries, this famous cheesy pasta dish has been a staple in Roman cuisine! It is just freshly cracked black pepper and lots of Pecorino cheese (or half Pecorino and Reggiano Parmesan cheese) and pasta It is the simplest meal but so satisfying.                                                  

2 Tbsp. whole black peppercorns or more to taste

1 lb. spaghetti

Salt for the pasta water

1-1/2 cups freshly grated Pecorino Romano or more to taste

Bring a big pot of salted water to the boil.

Grind the peppercorns very coarsely, preferably crushing them in a mortar with a pestle or in a spice grinder.

Warm up a big bowl for mixing and serving the pasta—use some of the pasta water to heat the bowl, if you like.

Cook the spaghetti until al dente. Quickly lift it from the pot with tongs, let it drain for an instant then drop it into the warm bowl.

Immediately scatter a cup of the grated cheese and most of the ground pepper on the pasta and toss in quickly. As you mix, sprinkle over spoonsful of hot water from the cooking pot to moisten and amalgamate the pasta and condiments; add more pepper or cheese to taste.

Serve immediately while the spaghetti is hot.

Chicken Scampi

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup finely chopped green onions

1 Tbsp. minced garlic

Juice of 1 lemon

2 lb. chicken breasts, boned, skinned, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

1 tomato, chopped

Buttered noodles or cooked rice In a skillet, heat together butter and olive oil and sauté the green onions and garlic. Add lemon juice, chicken, salt, pepper and parsley. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, for 5 to 8 minutes or until chicken is done. Add tomatoes and heat through.

Serve over buttered noodles or hot rice. Makes four to six serving.

Chicken Piccata

2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

All-purpose flour, for dredging

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided

5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed

1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt two Tbsp. butter with three Tbsp. olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add two pieces of chicken, and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate.

Melt two more Tbsp. butter and add another two Tbsp. olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other two pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner. Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.

Into the pan, add lemon juice, stock and capers. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Check for seasoning. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter.

Add remaining two Tbsp. butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.

Citron Presse

Citron Presse is a popular, refreshing drink served in French cafés. Translated as “pressed (squeezed) lemon,” it is homemade lemonade at its finest.

4 lemons

1 cup simple syrup (sugar dissolve in water)

Ice

Cold water

Squeeze the juice from the lemons. Pour juice into a small jug.

Put the simple syrup in a small pitcher or bowl.

Fill a large pitcher with ice and top with cold water.

Take the jugs of lemon juice, syrup and water to the table along with four glasses and four spoons.

Allow everyone to mix their own drink to their desired sweet and sourness.

Clafoutis

My favorite dessert from France. The recipe calls for summer apricots but will work well with almost any seasonal fruit that can go into a pie.

Sugar

3 eggs

3/4 cup whipping cream

3/4 cup milk

1/2 tsp. almond extract

1/2 cup flour

8 apricots, about, cut in half and pitted

1/3 cup slivered almonds

Place 1/4 cup sugar, eggs, cream, milk and almond extract in blender or food

processor and blend until smooth. Sift flour over mixture and pulse just to

mix. Set batter aside to stand 10 minutes.

Arrange apricots, cut-side down, in heavily buttered and sugared 9-inch glass

pie plate. When batter has rested, pour batter over apricots. Sprinkle with

almonds and 1 to 2 Tbsp. sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees until puffed and brown, about 45 minutes. Serve immediately. Makes six to eight servings.

Easy Sautéed Spinach

2 large bunches of spinach, about 1 lb.

Extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, sliced

Salt to taste

Clean and prep spinach: Cut off the thick stems of spinach and discard. Clean spinach by filling sink with water and soaking spinach to loosen any sand or dirt. Drain and then repeat soaking and draining. Put spinach in a salad spinner to remove any excess moisture.

Heat two Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add garlic and sauté for about 1 minute, until garlic is just beginning to brown.

Add spinach to pan, packing it down. Use a couple spatulas to lift spinach, and turn it over in the pan to coat with olive oil and garlic. Do this a couple of times. Cover the pan and cook for 1 minute. Uncover and turn the spinach over again. Cover the pan and cook for an additional minute.

Remove from pan and drain excess liquid: After 2 minutes of covered cooking, the spinach should be completely wilted. Remove from heat.

Drain any excess liquid from the pan. Add a little more olive oil, sprinkle with salt to taste. Serve immediately.

Gougeres

Gougeres are simple cheese puffs that are popular from the Burgundy region in France. They are good served as an appetizer with wine.

1 cup milk

1 stick unsalted butter

1 tsp. salt

1 cup sifted unbleached, all-purpose flour

5 eggs, divided

1½ cup Reggiano Parmesan cheese (or half Parmesan and half Gruyere)

Preheat oven 375 degrees.

Combine milk, butter and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat and add flour all at once. Whisk vigorously for a few moments, then return the pan to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the batter has thickened and is pulling away from the sides and bottom of the pan for 5 minutes or less.

Again, remove pan from heat and stir in four eggs, one at a time, making certain the first egg is completely incorporated before adding the second. Then stir in the cheese or cheeses.

Lightly butter a baking sheet.

Drop the batter by Tbsp. onto baking sheet, spacing the puffs at least 1 inch apart.

Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl. Brush the tops of the puffs with the beaten egg, and sprinkle with additional Parmesan, if you use it.

Set baking sheet on the center rack of oven. Reduce heat to 350 degrees, bake for 15 and 20 minutes, or until Gougeres are puffed and well browned.

Israeli Salad

You can enjoy this salad with breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Yes, I love this.

3 Roma tomatoes

1 English cucumber

1 red pepper

1/2 medium onion red or white

1/2 cup parsley, chopped

1/8 cup lemon juice fresh

3 Tbsp. olive oil

Kosher salt to taste

Slice tomatoes in half and discard seeds.

Chop tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper and onion.

Place chopped vegetables and parsley into a bowl.

Add lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Mix until combined and serve as desired.

Beef Kofta

This Mediterranean ground beef kabob recipe is a hit every time.

1 medium onion

3 cloves garlic

1 cup fresh parsley

2 lbs. ground beef (can use lamb or even a combination of both)

2 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

In a small food processor chop up the onion, garlic, and parsley.

Place the ground beef into a large bowl and top with the rest of the ingredients.

Mix the beef mixture until combined.

Shape the mixture into burger shapes. Grill or pan fry until cooked thoroughly, about 4 to 6 minutes per side depending on the side of thickness.

Restaurant-Style Pan-Seared Salmon

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

4 (6 oz.) skinless salmon fillets, 1-1/4 inch thick

Season salmon with salt and a few grinds of pepper. Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering.

Cook the salmon, without moving, until golden and crisp, about 4 minutes. Carefully flip the fillets and reduce the heat to medium. Continue cooking until done to your liking, 4 to 5 minutes more. Transfer to a platter and serve.

Pad Thai Noodles                                  

1/4-lb. dried rice noodles, linguine or fettuccini

3 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided

1 Tbsp. coarsely chopped garlic

8 to 10 medium shrimp, about ¼ lb., peeled and deveined

1/4-lb. boneless chicken or pork, cut in bite-sized pieces

3 Tbsp. fish sauce

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 Tbsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. dried red chili flakes

About 1/4 cup water or chicken broth to prevent noodles from sticking

1 egg, lightly beaten

3 green onions, coarsely chopped (about 1/3 cup)

2 cups fresh bean sprouts

1/4 cup coarsely chopped dry-roasted peanuts

2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice

2 lime wedges

To prepare the dried rice noodles, bring a large saucepan of water to a rolling boil, add noodles, and remove from heat. Let the noodles steep 5 minutes, and then drain and rinse well in cold water. Transfer drained rice noodles to a medium bowl, and place it by the stove, along with a serving platter, a pair of long-handled tongs or a spatula, and a slotted spoon for tossing noodles.  Have all the remaining ingredients ready and handy.

In a large, deep skillet or a wok, heat two Tbsp. of the oil over medium heat until a bit of garlic sizzles at once. Add garlic, toss well, and the add the shrimp and chicken. Cook about 2 minutes, tossing now and then, until shrimp and meat are cooked through.

Add noodles and toss as they begin to soften, whiten, and curl in the hot pan. Add fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and chili flakes and cook 1 to 2 minutes, tossing now and then. Add a splash or two of water to prevent sticking.

When the noodles are tender, push them to one side and add remaining Tbsp. of oil. Add eggs, and once it is almost set, scramble and push aside. Add green onions and one cup of the bean sprouts and cook about 1 minute, tossing once or twice, until shiny and beginning to wilt.

Sprinkle peanuts and lime juice over noodles and then toss to mix everything well. Mound the noodles on a serving platter, arrange remaining cup of bean sprouts and the lime wedges on the side, and serve hot. Serves two to four.

Thai Glass Noodle Salad

2 oz. dried mung bean noodles (cellophane noodles)

1 to 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 whole chicken breast, boned, skinned, and coarsely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

1 fresh red or green chile, such as serrano, chopped

3 Tbsp. lime juice

2 Tbsp. Nam Pla (Thai fish sauce)

1 tsp. sugar

3 shallots, peeled, thinly sliced

1/2 cup cilantro leaves

6 oz. cooked bay shrimp

Thinly shredded lettuce, such as iceberg

1 to 2 Tbsp. crisp-fried shallots (optional)

Put mung bean noodles in a bowl and pour in lukewarm water to cover. Let soak until soft and pliable (about 15 minutes). Drain. Add noodles to a large pot of boiling water. Reduce to medium heat; cook until noodles are plump and glasslike (3 to 5 minutes). Drain in a colander; rinse with cold water; drain again. Cut into 3- or 4-inch lengths. Chill.

Pour oil into a hot wok or skillet. Add chicken; sauté until it loses its pink color. Break into small morsels. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool.

Mix chile, lime juice, Nam Pla, sugar, shallots, and cilantro; pour over noodles and mix thoroughly. Add the chicken, shrimp, and chilled noodles; mix well. Serve on a bed of thinly shredded lettuce. Garnish with the optional crisp-fried shallots.

Serves four to six.

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