When I first decided to make a Man in the Iron Mask menu, I fell in love with the idea of making a traditional French dessert. And when I read about Monsieur Fouquet’s famous peaches, I knew my dessert would have a peach theme. I tossed around the idea of peach madeleines, but I already made madeleines for my Hobbit menu (and adding fruit to the batter can be tricky).
Peach macarons also came to mind, but I’ll admit I was a little intimidated. I’ve never tried to make the infamously difficult macaron before, and I wasn’t confident that I’d have enough time to perfect such a temperamental recipe. Then I hit on the idea of meringues.
I’ve had great luck making meringue in the past, and I liked the idea of trying it as a cookie, something I’ve tasted but never made for myself. I used a combination of recipes to get my cookies: the proportions and prep instructions come from my baked Alaska recipe and the baking instructions come from a Taste of Home meringue cookie recipe my mom recommended.
But how to add the peaches? Since meringue can be fussy, I didn’t want to mess with the flavoring too much, but I’ve had fruit curd on the brain since I recently finished developing a blueberry curd recipe for my cookbook. So I consulted a peach curd recipe from Chocolate Moosey and made adjustments to my blueberry version to suit the differences in the fruit.
The final cookies had crisp, delicately sweet meringue with clean lines from the piping (no cracks or melting—yay!), and the peach curd was silky and fruity. Top with a sprig of mint to contrast the sweetness, and you’re in business! 🙂
Finding a side dish for my Man in the Iron Mask menu proved to be more difficult than I anticipated. No one dish jumped out as the obvious choice, but I noticed soup was mentioned in the long list of elaborate dishes the governor of the Bastille sups on with Aramis. It’s also mentioned in a scene with the king.
I had already decided that all my Man in the Iron Mask dishes would be classic French food (tilapia meunière, French bread, etc.), so I decided to make a well-known French soup: French Onion Soup! And since I wanted to make a truly authentic version, what better recipe to use than Julia Child’s French onion soup? I made a few small tweaks to allow for modern conveniences (like using a toaster for the croutes) and ingredients I had on hand, but apart from that I stuck to the original as closely as possible.
The base itself has a robust, beefy (and of course onion-y) flavor with plenty of texture from the grated fresh onion you add just before ladling it out. With the toasted bread and broiled cheese on top, you wind up with quite the hearty side dish.
Full Disclosure: I’d never actually eaten French onion soup before I made this. Not even in a restaurant. I guess I always thought of it as the “beginning” of a soup, the sort of base you add things to but not a soup unto itself. And maybe if the soup were just plain on its own, I’d still feel that way. But with the croutes and toasted cheese, I totally get it! 🙂
You can make my Secret Note French Bread to slice on top or just go with store bought. Bon appetit! 🙂
When I first read Man in the Iron Mask, I agonized over the fact that there didn’t seem to be any distinctive entrees in the book. Sure, there was a brief mention of quail, partridge, and other fowl (but only in passing). I went back to combing through the text, worried I wouldn’t be able to find anything, when I suddenly stumbled upon an idea: the alley of limes.
Five different times in the book, Dumas mentions that Athos likes to walk with his son down a path lined with lime trees on their estate. It’s where they have important conversations about Raoul’s future, and Athos’ increasing difficulty with walking the path is used to show how his age affects him.
Limes themselves aren’t an entree, but tilapia meunière is. It’s a variation of sole meunière, a simple, classic French fish dish that is traditionally served with lemon sauce (I used tilapia instead of sole because it’s easier to get). And Bon Appetit has a great recipe for sole meunière. I just swapped the lemon for lime, and I had the perfect entree.
The butter sauce is mild and delicate, with just a hint of bite from the lime. The acidity of the citrus cuts through the fat of the fish, resulting in a delicate dish fit for a refined nobleman like Athos! 🙂
Our new Book of the Month is The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas, and I can’t wait to get started! It took me forever to finish it (60 chapters, y’all. Dumas ain’t kidding around), but it was still a really fun read. It’s got everything you could ever want in a classic book: Intrigue! Adventure! Bishops on the run for trying to put the king’s displaced twin brother on the throne! Yaaay! 🙂
When I started reading, it didn’t take long for me to find my appetizer: early in the book, Aramis sneaks Prince Philippe a secret note in a loaf of bread.
“Fun!” I thought. “I can make french bread and hide a little note inside.”
In my hubris, I decided to make authentic french bread, because, y’know, historical accuracy. Then I saw that the Julia Child recipe takes seven hours. And most other “authentic” recipes take anywhere from two to four.
There are people out there who have hours and hours to devote to the refined art of traditional bread making. These people do not have 6-month-olds who are teething and mobile, which means I am not one of them. So instead we’re going a less historically accurate route and going a more fast-and-easy-but-still-french-bread-and-still-delicious route.
Enter Leigh Anne from Your Homebased Mom‘s recipe for Easy French Bread. It caught my attention because of the short rise time (40 minutes total), making the whole recipe just a little over an hour from start to finish. It’s not as porous inside as a traditional French baguette, but it’s delicious, with a beautiful crust and tender crumb.
Maybe it’s a good thing that Aramis didn’t give Philipe this EXACT loaf of bread…he probably would have eaten it all without even stopping to notice the note! 😉
The Mister loves anything almond, so when I decided to make the nutty biscuits (“cookies” if you’re from the US) from Neverwhere, I knew the nut in question had to be almonds. 🙂 I wanted them to be authentic British biscuits, so I started with a recipe from Drizzle and Dip and switched the flavoring to almond extract. Add some toasted almonds on top for garnish, and you’re all set! 🙂
I love how delicate and buttery the cookies are, and the almonds on top add just the right amount of nuttiness. Perfect for our Neverwhere dessert!
Poppadoms are a delightful, crisp mix between a chip and a cracker. Some varieties are super thin and fluffy, while others are more robust (like a pita chip). Originally popular in places like India and Pakistan, they are made with chickpea flour and are both baked AND fried. Sounds awesome, right? I first came across poppadoms while reading Neverwhere, when Door asks for spicy poppadoms to go with her vegetable curry at the Floating Market in London.
I was intrigued by the idea of these unusual little crackers, so I decided to make some for my Neverwhere menu! I tracked down a recipe from wikiHow that adds cayenne pepper to the list of ingredients (since Door specifically requests spicy poppadoms).
Munch on, Wonderlanders. Let’s get cooking! 🙂
CONFESSION TIME: Before reading Neverwhere, everything I knew about making curry could fit in a matchbox. I’d never eaten it and certainly never made it from scratch. So when my favorite character in the book (Lady Door) chowed down on vegetable curry at the Floating Market and clearly loved it, I knew I had to learn how to make it. I’ll admit, I was pretty intimidated, so I sought out a recipe that was easy enough for little ol’ me but authentic enough to do Neverwhere justice.
Our brand new Book of the Month is Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, and I’m super excited to get started! It’s hard to find time to read with a new baby, but I MADE time for Neverwhere. It was such a fun read—clever, imaginative, and an Alice in Wonderland retelling to boot! What’s not to love? 🙂
Even though most of the book is set in “London Below,” I decided to start things out with a fancy little dish from London Above: the mushroom vol-au-vents from Jessica’s gala. Vol-au-vents consist of puff pastry stuffed with (in this case) a creamy mushroom filling. They may look complicated, but they’re deceptively easy. Just bake some puff pastry shells, cook your mushroom mix in a pan while they bake, and fill the finished shells!
When I started looking up vol-au-vent recipes, I noticed that parsley was the most common herb people turned to for seasoning. To change things up, I decided to try fresh basil instead, and I loved the way it turned out! The basil flavor rose above the mushroom base without overpowering it, just how I wanted. I also noticed that a lot of people made their base from scratch, but I decided to take a little shortcut: cream of mushroom soup. The results were subtle, perfectly seasoned, and utterly delicious. Perfect for a sophisticated young lady like Jessica!
Last year when I finished my Star Trek Next Generation menu, I posted a Romulan Ale cocktail as my bonus recipe. I loved the idea of ending my Original Series menu with another drink, and I immediately thought of making a multi-colored layered drink as an homage to the different Starfleet divisions.
Turns out, I had no idea what I was signing up for! 😛 My first thought was to make a molecular cocktail in red, blue, and yellow, but I couldn’t get the drink to layer properly. I then decided to try layering plain juices and stumbled across a recipe from Katrina’s Kitchen. She uses juice and Gatorade to make an easy, delicious layered punch in red, white, and blue for the 4th of July. All I needed to do was add a little yellow food coloring to get Starfleet’s signature red, blue, and yellow colors and I was in business! 🙂 The final result was tasty and just plain gorgeous—I couldn’t believe how well the juices kept their layers, even after being jostled around!
Drink up, space travelers! We’ve got a final frontier to explore. 🙂
I’ve been wanting to make these cookies ever since I saw on Pinterest that you can use a star cookie cutter to make Star Fleet insignia badges. So when the time came to whip these up, I got out my favorite recipe for royal icing sugar cookies (the same base recipe I used for my X-Files Alien Cookies) and went to work! There are several recipes about there for insignia sugar cookies, so to make mine unique, I did the detailing with food markers—a nice shortcut instead of making multiple colors of icing. And I decorated each insignia with the symbol and color of the three main Star Fleet divisions: Sciences, Command, and Operations!
Royal icing takes a little extra time than regular frosting, but you can’t beat those crisp, clean lines. Plus, the flat surface is super easy to decorate! 🙂