I love Paris. Love it. It's topped in my heart only by Rome. And the beach.
I don't love French food. Never have. Too rich. Too - dare I say it? - weird. I know, I know. Please, if you are reading from France, keep reading. I promise I will redeem myself. I'm just not a foodie. I love pancakes. I love a good cheeseburger. I'm simple about food, really. But thanks to a beautiful article in this month’s Bon Appétit, I was inspired to go French.
I do love a good ham and cheese sandwich, and by virtue of Marcella Hazen, I have finally gotten over my fear of béchamel. It was time to try the croque-monsieur. This is not your ordinary ham and cheese. It tastes full and rich and complicated but the recipe is actually quite easy. Béchamel is not as intimidating as it sounds once you have given it a try. I particularly liked this recipe because the sauce came together almost at once and it was easy to spot when the sauce was done. I also liked this recipe because everything can be put together in advance, which I totally took advantage of during nap time today.
With the béchamel made, the sandwiches are quick to put together. Good ingredients are key here as there are so few needed. I used leftover ham that I froze after Easter. Not the best. But the end result was delicious. Five out of six voters tonight voted in favor of repeating this dinner. If you come here often, you’ll know who the hold out was. Gus, of course.
I served our croque-monsieur with the carrot salad with coriander vinaigrette and pistachios from the same issue of Bon Appétit (May 2014). I’m not sure these were meant to be served together, but they were a great combination. The toasted corriander seed is well worth the effort. I did cheat a bit and used my food processor (and my young sous-chefs) to shred the carrot rather than using the more beautiful julienne shown in the magazine. Thanks for this suggestion, Bon Appétit.
This salad has a nutty, full flavor that was great with the sandwiches. We served the carrot salad over spinach for color (don’t come after me, foodie police!) and we were all quite pleased with the result.
People, this was a delicious dinner. Run right out and get that copy of Bon Appétit. You won’t be sorry. And if you are from France and still reading this, I promise to be good to your cuisine from now on. Merci.