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! 🙂
Truth be told, I was little stuck when it came time to create a tea for Man in the Iron Mask. There’s not a drop of tea to be seen in the book, and the only beverage Dumas mentions is wine. The idea of making a wine-themed tea was intriguing, but I knew it would take a LOT of experimentation to get right. With a cookbook in the works and the Little Mister cutting teeth, I knew I couldn’t give a wine tea the attention it deserved.
Then I remembered Fouquet’s peaches. Dumas describes them with so much care that you almost get the feeling he’s eaten a few! I had fun making peach tea in the past (like Becky’s White Peach Tea and James’ Peaches & Cream Tea), so I was eager to try again. But to increase the challenge, I set out to create a more unique blend than the previous two.
I used Adagio’s Peach Oolong as a base. Oolongs are new to me (I’ve only had them a few times in the past), but I loved how mild yet distinctive this tea was. I combined it with some apricot green tea and extra apricot pieces to lend a little complexity to the flavor. I love how it turned out, and I hope you will too! 🙂
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! 🙂
Tomorrow is National Book Lovers’ Day, so to celebrate I thought it would be fun to share a special roundup of book-themed drinks. 🙂
Why drinks, you ask? Well, I figured drink recipes are something quick and easy you can throw together on a whim, which is important for a holiday like this (one that lands on a weekday and is the sort that some people don’t hear about until the last minute). After all, just because you haven’t got time to run to the store doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to toast your love of books, right? 😉
The recipes listed here include cocktails, nonalcoholic punch, hot chocolate, and even Earl Grey lattes. So we’ve got something for everyone—whether you wanna party it up with an Edgar Allan Poe cocktail or get cozy with some of the White Witch’s hot chocolate.
Cheers, and happy Book Lovers’ Day! 🙂
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! 😉
Time to introduce my new Book of the Month: The Man in the Iron Mask! I’m excited for this book because I’ve been planning a menu for it for AGES. I was going to do it back in the spring, but I seriously underestimated how long it would take to finish the book with a brand new baby. Luckily, things are starting to settle down a bit now that the Little Mister is 6 months old. He’s sleeping well, we’re back to a regular schedule, and I’m in the final stretch of cookbook editing. So with the help of audiobook magic, I was FINALLY able to finish The Man in the Iron Mask and create a menu for it.
Today, we’re introducing it with a reading kit! This was a fun one to make, since there’s so much drama and intrigue in Man in the Iron Mask. Since it’s based in the baroque/rococo period, I had fun with the style of things, going for more opulent items with high aesthetic appeal. Enjoy! 🙂
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!
Howdy, folks! We’re back with another cookbook update. If you haven’t heard, I’m publishing a teatime cookbook of literary recipes with Skyhorse Publishing, and I’m wildly excited about it. Last month I gave a quick rundown of what we had put together, and today I’m going to be updating you guys on our progress. So here we go! ^.^
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! 🙂
I’ll admit I wasn’t sure how I felt about Serpentine as a character while I was reading Neverwhere. I got the sense that she was manipulative and maybe even cruel, but the air of mystery surrounding her kept me intrigued. I was especially fascinated by the green “restorative drink” she serves Richard when he has a nasty hangover from Islington’s Atlantian wine. So I decided to make a tea time tribute to it here on the blog!
For this tea, I wanted something subtle yet refreshing—and of course green! I whipped up a blend of Adagio’s Citron Green tea and lemongrass. This will definitely help you feel restored—Atlantian wine or not! 😉