Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tuesday Tutor: Featuring Foodness Gracious

Croque Monsieur


It's Tuesday again and high time I took a break from me and focused on someone else. Which is a lot more fun and rewarding than obsessing over myself. Or testing recipes over and over and over and over...

On Tuesdays, I feature an original recipe from another blogger: I make the recipe following the author's directions, I snap a few pictures, I taste the result - and I share everything I love about the recipe.

Confused? Read more about the details for Tuesday Tutor.


Today's Tuesday Tutor: Foodness Gracious
Selected Recipe: Croque Monsieur
Follow on Twitter: http://twitter.com/FoodnessG
Friend on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Foodness-Gracious/193134074064390
Join on Foodbuzz: http://www.foodbuzz.com/foodies/us/california/long_beach/profile/gerryspeirs

My Tutor for today was the ever creative Gerry from the beautifully photographed Foodness Gracious blog. He has an uncanny habit of posting delectable foods I can't wait to taste, often paired with unique inspiring twists. What I love most about Foodness Gracious are the snippets of life that accompany each recipe - because even the most beautiful food is never as interesting as people. If you're not following Gerry, you should definitely check out his scrumptious blog. (Especially the caramels!)

About the Author: 5 Fun Facts
  1. "I'm Scottish."
  2. "I love all foods but really like Indian and Thai."
  3. "I'm learning to experiment with my camera instead of just relying on manual and I'm liking the results."
  4. "I don't do roller coasters or heights!"
  5. "I am determined to take a cooking class in Italy someday."

Author's Photo

I'll be honest, I originally planned to feature one of Gerry's caramel recipes - he has posted a number of intriguing recipes for these sweet devils recently and I've been drooling over the photos for weeks. But I have one weakness that is ALWAYS my undoing - cheese. And cheese with bread is even more irresistible. So when I stumbled across this post on Foodness Gracious for Croque Monsieur - melted, cheesy gloriousness - I forgot all about caramels!

And I'm so glad I picked this recipe to feature - it turned out amazing (although I was stuffed for hours)!

Original recipe courtesy of Foodness Gracious


First I had to defrost a loaf of homemade French-style bread

Melted butter for the roux

Added flour - it's always amazing how so little roux
can thicken a sauce so beautifully

Browning the roux a bit - I wanted a little extra flavor

I used whole milk, mostly because we have too
much of it in our fridge right now ;)

I added about a 1/2 cup of milk to the roux at a time

And whisked briskly to remove the lumps

Look at that gorgeous, thick sauce

Seasoned with salt and pepper
Be careful not to add too much salt

I love the combination of Gruyere and Parmesan

I used GENEROUS 1/4 cups of cheese :)

Letting the cheese melt into the sauce before whisking

I recommend thick slices of bread
That way, the inside is soft while the outside is crusty

Good dijon mustard is so important

I recommend a fully-cooked ham, not deli-meat

I used two half-slices of ham to each sandwich
Which was quite generous

Plenty of grated cheese inside the sandwich

Topped with another thick slice of bread

This was a perfect excuse to use my Pyroceram CorningWare pan

I reserved a generous amount of Gruyere for topping later

You might want to toast at 425 degrees for a darker, crispier toast

Generously topped with bechamel sauce

And with more Gruyere :)

After 6 minutes under the broiler, browning has occurred :)

Amazing, amazing sandwiches
But 1/2 of this would have been plenty


Thoughts while scarfing...
  • The best part of this French sandwich is the combinations of flavors and textures - so I recommend thick slices of bread, allowing the sandwich to toast thoroughly in a hot oven, and only adding the bechamel and cheese just before browning under the broiler. In fact, when I make this again, I will probably toast the sandwich at 425 degrees and preheat the broiler before topping with the bechamel sauce - my bread got a tiny bit soggy because I put the bechamel sauce on top too soon
     
  • Careful when seasoning the bechamel sauce as it's easy to over-salt this sandwich due to the salty ham and cheeses. I used a teaspoon of kosher salt and it was just slightly too salty for my taste. I'd recommend a 1/2 teaspoon or so and a healthy 1/2 teaspoon of fresh cracked black pepper
     
  • I really recommend buying a baked ham instead of sliced deli-ham - almost every supermarket carries baked ham and it often is pre-sliced anyway. The meat is less processed and has much better flavor - which really stands up nicely to the cheese and bread
     
  • Make sure you're using broiler-safe bakeware for this recipe - many glass and stoneware products cannot tollerate the intense heat from the broiler and could explode. And while I suppose one could forego the boiler, the sandwich just is NOT the same without the delightful bits of browned cheese
     
  • This recipe could really serve about four people in my opinion. My boyfriend and I were absolutely stuffed after one mammoth-sized sandwich each - and there was still bechamel and cheese left over! Which is good news because this is a great recipe to wow your friends with.

Other Must-Try Recipes from Foodness Gracious
Maybe cheesy French goodness just isn't your thing. But I guarantee you'll find something scrumptious at Foodness Gracious. Check out these mouth-watering eats and tell me you're not inspired!

Chocolate Peppermint Brownies
Macarons w/ White Chocolate Peppermint Ganache
Chili with Beer, Bacon and Buttermilk Cornbread
Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Waffles
Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce



8 comments:

  1. HOMEMADE french bread?!...you rock! Yummy post & taking a cooking class in Italy is on my bucket list too :)

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    Replies
    1. I love making my own bread. It was really more of a French-style bread because it was in the shape of a classic loaf pan vs a more rustic country French loaf

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  2. Oh wow this looks good! I can eat it any time of the day!

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    Replies
    1. I agree - but if I did I'd never lose even a single 1/10 of a pound :)

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  3. Thanks again for an awesome write up, I have to make that sandwich again soon, and I agree about the ham selection!

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    Replies
    1. It was my pleasure, Gerry. It was a particularly delicious sandwich...

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