For my latest English project, my teacher asked us to connect the book A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens, to something we’re passionate about.
Obviously, I chose food and cooking. What else is a teenage food blogger to do?
Surprisingly, this was actually a great topic to write about. Plus, I got to bring in food for my class on Friday morning. The stew made a bit of a mess (broken containers!), but everything else worked fine and it was a big hit!
The three foods I made to connect with A Tale of Two Cities were French Baguettes, French Peasant Stew, and Chocolate Truffles.
First of all, you should know that A Tale of Two Cities is all about the French Revolution and the story of how a group of interwoven Frenchmen and Englishmen are tied into it. You should also know that the French Revolution was a key turning point in the creation of French cuisine, because it opened up the luxuries of food to everyone, not just the wealthy upper class.
I made the baguettes because French bread was the food staple of the peasants. The biggest reason the peasants revolted was because taxes ran so high that they could no longer afford to buy their main food source. In A Tale of Two Cities, the bread represents deep class divisions and the lack of respect the upper class had for the starving peasants.
The stew was made to represent the hardship of the poor. It had a very rustic feel, which I wanted to serve as a contrast between the luxury and richness of the wealthy. Also, the stew had potatoes in it because the up until the French Revolution, nobody in France liked or ate potatoes, but the peasants were so hungry that they turned to potatoes as something they could eat. Now, potatoes are huge in French cuisine, starring in dishes like potatoes gratin and tartiflette.
Finally, I made chocolate truffles to demonstrate the luxury of the upper class. While the peasants starved, the lords and kings feasted on rich foods, like one scene in the book where the Monseigneur is eating chocolate dipped in chocolate with help from 4 people. Out of all the foods I made, the truffles were definitely the class’s favorite. Who doesn’t love chocolate?
You can find the Bread Recipe on Epicurious, but I have the stew and truffle recipes for you right here! This St. Patrick’s day, consider maybe bringing out your French side instead!
Adapted from Chow.com
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
4 cups of low-sodium vegetable broth
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 rutabega, peeled and cubed
Half of one onion, peeled and chopped
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup of dry red wine
1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
Salt and pepper, for seasoning
Begin by melting the butter in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Once it’s completely melted, add the flour and whisk continuously until well combined. Cook until the flour loses the raw flavor and starts to let off a toasty aroma; this a roux. Whisk in the broth a little at a time and cook until slightly thickened.
Add the chopped carrots, rutabega, onion, and potato. Simmer over low heat for one hour, stirring occasionally, until the carrots and potatoes are soft when pierced.
Add the red wine and fresh herbs, simmering for 15 minutes, or until the alcohol flavor is cooked off. Season with salt and pepper, then serve with a loaf of French bread. Yum!
Adapted from Famous French Desserts
1 cup of half and half
14 oz. of Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate
8 oz. of Dark Chocolate
1/2 cups of Cocoa Powder
Break the baking chocolate into small pieces and place in a large bowl. Next, bring the half and half to a boil on the stove. Pour the half and half over the chocolate and stir the chocolate with a wooden spoon until ALL the chocolate has melted and the batter is smooth.
Cover the ganache with aluminum foil and place in the refrigerator to thicken for 15 minutes.
Use two spoons to form round and even balls of the ganache. Place these on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the refrigerator again for 15 minutes to harden.
Meanwhile, melt the dark chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. Spread the cocoa powder out evenly on a plate for rolling. Remove the ganache balls from the refrigerator. Dip them in the melted chocolate (use a spoon), then roll them in the cocoa powder. Place the truffles back on the tray and refrigerate for 10 more minutes so that the outer coating can harden. Enjoy!
Lots of love,