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! 😉
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.
As an Alice in Wonderland retelling set in modern London, Neverwhere offers lots of inspiration for my monthly reading kit! From the iconic key to Lady Door’s namesake, I was sure to include lots of little items devoted to the best parts of Neverwhere. There’s even a Mind the Gap magnet to remind you to watch out for the gap monsters! Happy wandering, fellow Wonderlanders. Stay safe in London Below! 🙂
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!
As you can probably tell from the focus of my blog, I love making themed recipes. Themed desserts hold a special place in my heart, since they’re a great way to achieve that awesome visual wow factor. So I decided to round up all the red, white, and blue desserts on the blog and do a quick little post for anyone who’d like to whip up something fun and colorful for the 4th of July. Munch on, fellow patriots! 😉