Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

A Taste of France

While studying abroad in France, I unsurprisingly spent a lot of time thinking about food. Sometimes I was trying to figure out ways I’d be able to bring some of my new French favorites home with me, and at other times I was trying to adapt my American favorites to share with my host family. This meal brings together the best of both worlds, and it’s the perfect way to spend a chilly Sunday night in with friends.


Appetizer: French Country Bread

In France, a meal is simply not a meal without bread. This rustic white loaf is simple to make at home and can be eaten as an appetizer with an assortment of cheeses. When picking cheeses, look for a variety of textures and flavors: something firm, like cheddar; something creamy, like Brie; and something with “oomph,” like a goat cheese or a blue cheese.

1 cup warm water (95-110 F)
1 1/4 tsp. (1/2 packet) active dry yeast
2 3/4 cup (12.4 oz.) all-purpose flour
2 tsp. salt

  1. In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water and let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add salt and flour, about 1 cup at a time, mixing until well combined.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth, about 8 – 10 minutes.
  4. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Turn risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface, press to deflate,
  6. About 20 minutes before you intend to bake the loaves, preheat oven to 425 F.
  7. Immediately before baking, sprinkle loaf with flour and slash the letter “x” into the top with a very sharp knife.
  8. Bake the loaf at 425 F for 20 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 375 F and bake for another 20-30 minutes. The bread is ready when it is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen


Side Dish: French Vinaigrette Salad

At every French restaurant I ate at while abroad, this is the dressing that was served on each side salad. With the sharpness of the mustard and the crispness of the lettuce, it’s the perfect counterpoint to a rich main course. A traditional French side salad is composed solely of lettuce, but feel free to get creative with additional toppings — tomatoes and goat cheese would pair particularly well with the mustard in the dressing.

1 head of lettuce
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 shallot, minced
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
6 to 8 tbsp. olive oil

  1. Mix salt, vinegar and minced shallot and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Add mustard and smaller amount of olive oil and mix well. Adjust to taste.
  3. Toss with salad immediately before serving.

Adapted from David Lebovitz


Main Course: Tartiflette

A classic winter dish from the Savoy region of France, Tartiflette is made from bacon, potatoes and cheese — all of the most important food groups. Traditionally, reblochon, a creamy, rich and very stinky cheese that’s actually illegal in the United States, is used since it’s made with raw milk. Brie and Camembert are good substitutes but something sharp like Gruyere could be a different but also delicious alternative.

2.5 lbs. potatoes
1/2 lb. thick bacon, cut into 1/2 inch wide pieces
1 onion, sliced thinly
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 lb cheese (see note), cut into 1/4 inch thick slices

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Peel potatoes, place in a pot and fill with enough water to just cover them. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes can be pierced with a fork but are not falling apart, about 20 minutes. Once the potatoes are cooked, drain them and set aside until cool enough to handle.
  3. While the potatoes are boiling, cook the bacon in a large sauté pan. Once crispy, remove the bacon and drain all but 1 tablespoon of the fat. Add the onions, and cook until soft and golden, about 5 – 10 minutes. Add the bacon back to the pan, then pour in the wine and cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Slice the potatoes into rounds about 1/4 inch thick, then arrange half of them on the bottom of the baking dish. Spoon 1/2 of the onion and bacon mixture over the potatoes, then arrange 1/2 of the sliced cheese in a layer on top. Spoon the rest of the onion and bacon mixture over the cheese, then arrange the rest of the potatoes on top. Top with another layer of the remaining cheese.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and bubbling.

Adapted from Anthony Bourdain


Dessert: Dark Chocolate-Salted Caramel Layer Cake

My mission for this cake was to create a classic American layer cake that my French host family would enjoy. The French in general have much less of a sweet tooth than Americans, meaning sugary icing is a no-go. Instead, I filled an airy cake with salted caramel and iced the it with a simple dark chocolate buttercream. For a taller, more festive cake, double the cake layer recipe and bake two layers in separate pans. You may end up with extra caramel — store it in the fridge and eat it drizzled over absolutely anything (or just with a spoon).

For the cake layers:
1 1/8 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/8 cup cold water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 egg yolks
4 egg whites
Dash of lemon juice (optional)

For the salted caramel filling:
1 cup sugar
3 oz. butter
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

For the icing:
3 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1 stick butter

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line the bottom of one 9-inch cake pan with a piece of buttered parchment paper, but leave it otherwise ungreased.
  2. Combine flour, salt, baking powder and 1/2 cup of sugar in a large bowl.
  3. In another bowl, beat together egg yolks, oil, water and vanilla, then stir into the flour mixture.
  4. In another large bowl, beat egg whites and dash of lemon juice, until soft peaks form. Add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff.
  5. Stir 1/4 of the beaten egg whites into the batter to lighten it, then gently fold in the remaining whites.
  6. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool for about 1 hour.
  7. While the cake cools, prepare the caramel filling. Melt the sugar in a large pot, stirring just enough to ensure it melts evenly. Cook until it is a dark amber color.
  8. Add the butter all at once and stir until melted, then turn off the heat and pour in the heavy cream, stirring until smooth.
  9. Pour the caramel into a glass bowl or jar and set aside until needed.
  10. Once the cake is completely cool, turn out onto a plate and remove the parchment paper. With a large serrated knife, carefully cut the cake in half horizontally, forming 2 thin layers.
  11. Spread a generous layer of caramel over the bottom layer, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges to prevent it from oozing out the sides once assembled. Place the 2nd cake layer on top.
  12. To make the icing, melt together chocolate and butter over a pot of simmering water or in the microwave. Let cool to spreadable consistency, or stir continuously over a bowl of ice water to speed up the process. Ice cake immediately, as it will continue to harden.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Julia Child

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