It is my dream to one day go to Paris. To take in all the sights and sit at a cafe and sip on espresso while I sketch the scenery. But… for now I can have a moment in Paris on a winter’s night Par l’assiette(la plaque.) ” by the plate.”
Croque Monsieur (or Madame ;p ) is one of my favorite and easy French dishes to make. Croque Monsieur means toasted ham and cheese sandwich ; aka grilled cheese with ham. What makes this dish different from an ordinary grilled ham and cheese is it has a cheese sauce that goes on top as well as the cheese in the middle of the sandwich. The cheese sauce is made with gruyere and parmesan cheese. Also, this sandwich is cooked in the oven vs. the American way which is on the stove top.
Along my journey to my French yumminess, I had to improvise. I came up short in the cheese dept. because the sauce takes most of the cheese. Aucun Problème!!!!! ( no problem! ) So for the cheese inside my sandwich I grated some smoked white cheddar I found in the crisper. I know it could be risky mixing a smokey cheese with my cheese sauce since its made of slightly salty yet savory cheeses but I was willing to give it a whirl. OK ! Sooo if you will turn your attention to the ham part. I don’t do ham ( or any pork for that matter) but I do appreciate the meat. Although a nice black forest ham would go perfectly with this dish, instead I went for a nice Boar’s Head oven roasted turkey breast. I used a sourdough and left the crust on but you can use any sandwich bread you like just cut the crust off (depending on the bread it can get a little hard); I brushed on some dijon mustard before building the sandwich.
Now building the sandwich is like painting a picture; start …toasted bread – brush mustard- then grated cheese – place your choice of meat place on “z” bread – toast in oven til cheese melts – then the perste résistance ; the cheese sauce.
Helpful tip : The sauce goes on top of the sandwich and then place back in the oven to broil. Watch “Z” sandwich!!
The purpose of broiling is to slightly bubble and brown(slightly) the cheese sauce.
Paired with a bowl of spicy tomato soup and a glass of nice Shiraz , oh Magnifique!!!
Dinner was amazing and dessert was just as perfect. Dessert does not have to be “fancy schmancy.” I took some empty tart shells and made fresh fruit tarts. The fruit tarts consisted of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and bananas. Instead of drowning them in a sugar glaze ( like most tarts from grocery bakeries come) I warmed some vanilla honey. I filled the tart cups with the fresh fruit and drizzled them with the honey. To compliment the shortbread tart, I topped them with a sprinkle of cinnamon. What a great night ! There is just somethin’ about Paris, a sweet moment that warms your soul and fills your belly. Bon appititie mes amis! ~ M
* I highly suggested watching a French film or a French themed film. I watched Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris ( one of my favs! ) Now, if only Owen Wilson or Adrian Brody were to share my croque monisuer with me… oh me, oh my!!!!