Posts Tagged With: eggs

Croque-madames with Swiss Cheese and Dijon Mustard

Every once in awhile, someone will comment that they, “haven’t seen any new recipes on the food blog in awhile” – and I sheepishly look anywhere but in their eyes when I explain that I let scratchbatch slip off to the sidelines while I did “more important things.”  I’ve been cooking like the rest of us, but finding the moments to record those kitchen expeditions somehow became increasingly difficult.

In the time that’s elapsed since I discussed scones in all their glory, I have written many papers, earned a degree, lived abroad, and returned home.  With time on my side and a desire to jump back into my little culinary universe, I thought a second attempt to rejoin the blogosphere might not be such a bad idea.  To get back in the groove, I’ve got an easy and deliciously messy sandwich suggestion that might just redefine your concept of “breakfast for dinner.”  I present to you:  the croque (et oui, with a French name, it sells better !) or upscale, reinvented grilled cheese.

Doesn't look like a bonnet to me...

Perhaps this is a surprising choice – why make something that might equate diner food ?  The answer is fairly simple: it’s easy and you almost always have the ingredients hiding in the fridge to make it.  The other evening, I was sitting with the living room with my parents.  My mom looks up from her computer, pouts a little, and starts to brainstorm what to have for dinner.  A certain paresse has prevented any new groceries from entering the premises and creativity will therefore play a large role in whatever dish we dream up to devour.  Mom whines, “I have all this cheese just sitting in the fridge and I don’t know what to do with it !   Hey, maybe we can have grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner!”

I wasn’t impressed or tempted by the idea of hot soup on a hot night.  Voicing my opinion, we somehow started discussing the croque madames we’d eaten in France. I thought about it for a moment…when Mom declared, “If you can make it, that would be great !” Dad, behind two pairs of glasses, nodded his consent.

So off to the kitchen I went to make this classic, French-inspired snack.  Any bar/café in France will likely have a croque monsieur or a croque madame on their menu.  It’s standard quick eats, a sort of Frenchie fast-food that may have gained it’s popularity in the Paris of the late 40’s. The essentials stand as such: thick slices of bread, a little béchamel sauce, ham, and melted cheese.  The madame, in somewhat Gallic humor, is topped off with an egg (so named for the hat styles fashionable at the time…though I could think of other reasons…) while the monsieur touts but ham and cheese.

Usually, this sandwich is made with gruyere or emmenthal cheese, but those are less likely to be in an American refrigerator.  I used pecorino/parmesan, swiss, and provolone to great effect.  Don’t let the béchamel scare you off – it’s very easy to make and takes little time.  Put on the Amélie soundtrack, open a red wine, and whip up these fancy (and filling), French-inspired sandwiches.

The sauce: 

– 1 1/2 tbsp butter (unsalted or salted is fine)
– 1 1/2 tbsp flour
– 1 cup milk
– 3/4 cup grated cheese (I used parmesan and a little swiss)
– Salt and pepper to taste
– A few sprinkles of nutmeg

NB: Have the milk and cheese at the ready before beginning the sauce.

In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.

Melted butter

Add the flour and cook, whisking, until smooth and lightly browned. It’s important to incorporate the flour and the butter; the flour will be the thickening agent for the béchamel sauce. You also want it to change color (becoming somewhat golden in hue) in order to remove some of the floury flavor. This will all happen fairly quickly, so don’t dawdle and keep mixing !

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Pour in the milk, continuing to mix constantly. Let the mixture come to a boil before reducing the heat until thickened. I usually continue to whisk and before my sauce has begun to fervently bubble, it has adopted the viscosity of molasses (desired).

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Add the cheese by handfuls, mixing until smooth and melted. Taste – if you want more cheese, add it now.

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Season with a little salt, cracked pepper, and nutmeg. Be sure to sample before setting aside.

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The sandwich:

– 6 slices of bread, toasted (I used a multigrain bread but anything that isn’t Wonder Bread should be fine…)
– Coarse-grain Dijon mustard (for spreading)
– 6 slices ham (any cold cut could substitute well)
– 6 slices swiss or provolone
– 3 large eggs

Heat broiler. On a large baking sheet (you may cover with parchment paper if desired – I did not, and had no trouble removing my toasts), place the 6 slices of toast. Spread a generous spoonful of mustard on each slice of bread. If mustard isn’t your favorite condiment, butter is a likely substitute…but really, trust me on the mustard front. It’s delicious). Top each toast with a slice of ham and a slice of cheese. We were cleaning out the fridge, so I did three with swiss and three with provolone. It was so good, I might always do it like that…but you may choose whatever cheese cocktail you like.

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Top each toast with a generous dollop of béchamel sauce. Place tray in oven for 1-3 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and evenly browned. Please note that it is wise to cover the toasts as completely as possible so as to prevent them from burning when facing the heat of the broiler.

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Remove from oven and get ready to fry some eggs.

Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add salt and pepper to melted butter. Once the pan is hot (I test this by flicking a bit of water at the pan. If it sputters madly, it’s ready to go), crack an egg into the pan. It will cook fast – I like to run the edge of the flipper under the egg about midway through the cooking process to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Cook until the whites are set but the yolk is still runny…maybe 3 minutes in the pan. If you prefer the over-easy approach, go for it.

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Assembly:

I placed ours on a bed of greens (like arugula) but one may just as easily leave those out. Take one toast and place it on the plate. Top it with a second toast. Just as the egg is cooked, place it on top of the sandwich and devour right away !

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The best part is watching the yolk drip down over the combination of melted cheese, bread, and béchamel. Bon appetite !

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Mousse au Frangelico

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I was sitting in the kitchen, contemplating the world (as usual) and of course, attempting to make une décision très importante:  what to have for dessert. Crise existentielle de la journée, as one might say.  Alone, with a kitchen just begging to be used, and a sibling returning soon home from her long day over at the Eric Carle Museum…I felt the pressure.  What to do, what to do.

Hm.  I didn’t have any chocolate chips.
Nor enough oatmeal to make oatmeal scotchies.
Not in the mood for pie.

I could make brownies.  But I don’t want those either.

Then I started thinking…what about mousse ?  It was a beautiful day, mousse doesn’t sound hard, and it’s definitely soemthing new. With a bit of luck, sibling called, saying she would happily pick up some ingredients at a local market before coming home.   With her purchasing whipping cream and some native strawberries (for ’tis the season, so they say), I set about crafting some mousse.

I didn’t want chocolate mousse – too rich and I didn’t have the right chocolate for it.  I thought abotu what goes with cream and ended up with…frangelico !  Frangelico is a lovely hazelnut liqueur that is best served (in my humble opinion) with cold cream.  Best friends with the exotic Kahlua and the reliable Bailey’s, Frangelico is another one of those dessert-type liqueurs that comes in an immediately identifiable bottle and possessing an unforgettable flavor.  It’s refreshing and delicious and just sounded fabulous with strawberries and a little chocolate garnish.  When I googled my concept, however, nothing came up.

Uh-oh.

I’ve never made mousse and apparently, the world hasn’t made frangelico mousse – all I located were chocolate-based recettes.  As a result, I made up my dessert and lucky for me, it turned out splendidly.  Light and creamy from both egg whites and whipped cream, the mousse was a great summer treat and the strawberries, being native, tiny, and adorable (I know a souris who would have loved them) added an excellent tartness to the dish.  I served mine in chocolate cups, but you definitely don’t need to do that – the mousse is delicious as a solo act.

NOTE:  MOUSSE REQUIRES THE USE OF RAW EGGS.  PLEASE USE THE FRESHEST EGGS AVAILABLE TO MAKE THIS DESSERT IN ORDER TO AVOID GETTING SICK.  If you buy pasteurized eggs, which apparently exist, make sure the whites are whippable, as some pasteurized eggs lose the ability to whip due to protein denaturation.

For the mousse :

3 FRESH eggs
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar + 2 tbsp (one for whipping cream, one for egg whites)
3-4 tbsp Frangelico (I did it by taste but I would guess it was about this much)

Start by separating the eggs.  Put the yolks in a large bowl and set the whites aside for the time being.  Grab a whisk and roll up your sleeves – mousse requires some serious mixing skills.  Add the 1/2 cup sugar, butter, and vanilla to the yolks.  Whisk until they thicken and lighten in color (this step is also known as ribboning the eggs – it makes sure the sugar is well distributed throughout the yolks).  Add the frangelico, stir, and taste.  The yolk won’t hurt you – be bold and taste it !  You should be able to taste a burst of hazelnut and a tiny bite of alcohol, but not much.  If you want more, be my guest and get those yolks a little silly !

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In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Add 1 tbsp of sugar and beat again to incorporate, staying at the soft peaks stage.  Set aside.

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In YET ANOTHER bowl, whip the cream until thick and looks like a swirly mountain range.  I used the trusty Sunbeam beater to do this because I didn’t want to whisk by hand and I’d already used BOTH electric mixing bowls.  Kitchen drama.  Add the 1 tbsp sugar, mix again to incorporate, and grab a spatula.

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This next bit is a little delicate.  Start by adding the whipped cream to the yolk mixture.  Using a spatula, fold the cream in carefully – we are trying to increase the volume of the combination.  Don’t over mix – it’s okay if it’s not all incorporated because…

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…we are going to fold AGAIN !  Once all the whipped cream has been added, spoon in the egg whites and continue folding.  When complete, the entire concoction should be very airy, large, and a pale yellow color.  Cover your container and let chill until set – probably a good 4 hours.

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Naturally, we weren’t that patient and ate ours before it had entirely chilled and the sky did not open up nor did the earth quake, so if you are like my sibling and I (two antsy filles with a stubborn sweet tooth), go ahead and indulge early.

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Serve in chocolate cups with chopped strawberries OR on it’s own in a little ramekin OR with a vanilla wafer OR eat it straight out of the bowl.  Bon appétit ! 🙂

Categories: English | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Grandy’s Vidalia Onion Pie

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Recipe cards are funny little things.  Passed on from generation to generation, it’s always surprising to me just how sturdy these pieces of paper can be.  My grandmother houses a multitude of these recipes, jotted down in different handwritings, that catalogue dishes spanning decades…some delicious, and others a little strange.  This one, however, falls into the delicious category.  Rather like a quiche, this “onion pie” is a quick and easy fix, can stand in for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and is delicious cold.

Golden delicious !

I made a few changes from the recipe on the card:  I added paprika and cayenne (a few shakes) instead of tabasco sauce, as I didn’t have any (my college kitchen is limited).  I also used course grain Dijon mustard instead of dried mustard (again, because I didn’t have any…it’s not an ingredient I use often…) and the taste was fantastic.  The little mustard seeds give bursts of flavor to the filling, so I actually wouldn’t make it any other way.

Directions :

Though the instructions are noted on the card, I didn’t follow them exactly (sorry Grandy !) because microwaving onions sounded…strange.  I might explode them.  My microwave is also not particularly clean, so I decided to just make the entire apartment weep and chop up 5 medium onions.

Yes.

That’s right.

All five onions, one small apartment = a very weepy lady.  When people came in to visit, I had to explain why it seemed like I had tragedy on my mind.

Chop chop chop.

In any case, I chopped the onions and placed them in a pan with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.  I cooked them until translucent – about 10 minutes given the size of my pan.

Tears of joy, I swear !

While those were sautéing, I mixed together the eggs, sour cream, and spices in a large mixing bowl.

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Once the onions were nicely clear (and  no longer making me sob), I poured them into the mix and stirred again.  Once everything was nicely incorporated, I dumped the contents of the bowl into the prepared pie crust.  You can feel free to make your own crust, but I cheated this time and used Trader Joe’s pie crust (which you press into a pan and score before adding your fillings).

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Smother the top of the pie with cheese – believe me, it’s worth it – and place in the oven.  Cook until the top is a nice golden brown or until the egg has set – it shouldn’t be too wobbly upon removal from the oven.

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I brought this to a meeting and it was promptly devoured…so don’t leave this “hot commodity” around or it might not be there when you return !  Trust your grandmother to have recipes that no one can refuse.

Bon appétit ! 🙂

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