Happy Bastille Day!
How could we better celebrate La Fete Nationale than with some French cuisine? I am not much of a cook, but when I stumbled upon this book, "Barefoot in Paris" I did want to check some of the (easy) recipes. Actually, the book offers more than simple ways of cooking a la francaise, the author also writes about French cookware or ingredients and how to dress a table... I have chosen five or six recipes I would like to try in the near future, such as "eggplant gratin", "moules marinieres" or "pain perdu" but nothing beats the classic CROQUE MONSIEUR! Here's the recipe from the book!
SERVES 4 TO 8
One day, my friend Frank Newbold and I found ourselves on the way to the Louvre at lunchtime.
We passed Café Ruc, which is one of the Costes brothers’ restaurants, and spotted two seats
outside under the awning. They serve traditional French food, but with a modern twist. This was
inspired by the delicious croque monsieurs we ate there. These sandwiches are on the small side,
so serve one or two per person, depending on appetites.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
12 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (5 cups)
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
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, ½ cup grated Gruyère, and the Parmesan and set aside.
To toast the bread, place the slices on two 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 Gruyère. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyère, 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.