NOTE: I spend my Wednesdays Unplugged from appointments. It's my day to stay home, enjoy cooking and welcome our kids and grandkids for dinner in the evening. We end our meal with quotes from the Norwegian 'Quote Cup' passed on to me from my grandmother. I share a quote and a recipe here each week, and sometimes some photos of family fun. I love trying new recipes…and love getting recipes you would like to share!
"Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes." ~ Mahatma Gandhi
We have been having enough rainy days lately that it seems most people I speak with talk about being ready for some sunny days again. The positive side to the rainy days is how lushly green everything is… makes me think of the British Isles.
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
The cool, rainy days also make me think of warm comfort food, and I think of this week's recipe as France's equivalent to our grilled cheese sandwich. Croque Monsieur is a hot ham and cheese sandwich, which has been a staple on French cafe menus for about 100 years. Just as with our American grilled cheese (or grilled ham and cheese) sandwiches, there are about as many versions of 'Croque' as there are cooks… this one is from Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups hot milk
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch nutmeg
- 12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups)
- 16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
- Dijon mustard
- 8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.
To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.
Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.