Posts Tagged 'bread'

Croque Monsieur

Croque mr

Croque Monsieur

I had my first Croque Monsieur when I lived in France during culinary school. To this day it has remained my favorite sandwich.

Basically, a Croque Monsieur is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. But the French have elevated what would be a simple sandwich into a work of art! A classic ham and cheese is slathered with a béchamel sauce to make it even more indulgent.

The key to a good Croque Monsieur is the ingredients. Since the ingredients are few, you need to use good ones. Traditionally, a nutty Gruyère or Swiss Emmental cheese is used. Most markets carry these cheeses, but in a pinch, a good Swiss cheese could be substituted. As for the ham, this sandwich is a wonderful way to use up the leftovers from your Christmas baked ham.

The béchamel sauce is what makes this sandwich. Considered a “mother” sauce in French cuisine, a béchamel is very simple to prepare. Butter and flour are cooked together over low heat before milk and cheese are added to make this traditional cheese sauce. Thanks to the cheesy goodness that the sauce adds, it really is a knife-and-fork kind of sandwich.

This classic French treat is perfect for supper, lunch or a weekend brunch. They are so rich, serve them simply with a salad or soup. However you choose to serve them, I bet they will become your family’s favorite ham-and-cheese sandwich too.

Croque Monsieur

Serves 4

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 slices white sandwich bread, lightly toasted
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 pound baked ham, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. When the butter starts to foam, add the flour. Cook, whisking until thickened, about 1 minute. While continuing to whisk, gradually add the milk. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened, about 2 to 4 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and add the nutmeg, Parmesan, and 1/4 cup of the Gruyere. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

To assemble the sandwiches, place 4 slices of the toasted bread on a baking sheet. Lightly brush each of the slices with 1 tablespoon of mustard. Top each with 1/4 of the ham and 1/8 of the remaining Gruyere (about 1/4 cup). Top each with one of the remaining toasted bread slices. Pour the cheese sauce evenly over the tops of the sandwiches and sprinkle each with 1/4 of the remaining Gruyere. Transfer to the oven and bake until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned about 3 to 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Variation: Feeling indulgent? Top your Croque Monsieur with a fried egg and you will be enjoying a treat the French call a Croque Madame.

From Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler.

Egg Salad

Egg salad sandwiches are some of the easiest sandwiches in the world to make, especially if you have some hard boiled eggs sitting around in the fridge. Dijon mustard is my secret ingredient. I like to use French’s because it has Chardonnay wine in it.

Enjoy!

Egg Salad 

6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon French’s Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons minced yellow onion
¼ teaspoon Frank’s RedHot
Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the chopped eggs in a medium mixing bowl. Using a fork, mash up the eggs a little. Add the French’s Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, onion, and Frank’s RedHot.  Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4.

Cooking Tip: When mashing the eggs, don’t overdo it. You want the egg mixture to have some texture.

Variation: Add fresh dill or chives for an Herbed Egg Salad or chopped olives for a classic Egg & Olive rendition.

Crunchy Roast Beef Sandwiches

This is one of my favorite ways to make a roast beef sandwich. Since my friends and family enjoyed it so much, I knew I had to put on the menu of our new restaurant Cheffie’s Cafe. Not surprisingly, it is one of the most popular items on our Signature Sandwich menu!

The secret ingredient is French’s French Fried Onions! They add both a delicious crunch and flavor that turns an ordinary sandwich into a tasty treat!

Enjoy!

Crunchy Roast Beef Sandwiches

4 tablespoons horseradish mayonnaise
8 slices Ciabatta Roll or French bread
4 leaves green leaf lettuce
8 slices tomato
8 slices Cheddar cheese
8 oz. deli Roast Beef
1 cup FRENCH’S® French Fried Onions

Spread the horseradish mayonnaise on 4 slices of bread, dividing evenly. Top each slice of bread with 1 leaf lettuce, 2 slices tomato, 2 slices Cheddar cheese, 2 oz. roast beef, and ¼ cup  FRENCH’S® French Fried Onions

Cover each sandwich with a second slice of bread. Cut in half to serve.

Serves 4.

Cooking Tip: Horseradish mayonnaise is really easy to make and can add great flavor to a sandwich. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup mayonnaise and 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish.

***Photo by Justin Fox Burks. Food styled by Jennifer Chandler.

Grilled Jalapeno Pimento Cheese Sandwich

There is no better comfort food than warm melted cheese oozing between two slices of crisp buttered bread…that is unless you make it ultra-indulgent by using pimento cheese!

Enjoy!

Grilled Jalapeno Pimento Cheese Sandwich
From Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler

For the Jalapeno Pimento Cheese:

1/2 cup cream cheese (4 ounces), at room temperature
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup finely diced roasted red peppers (1 peppers)
2 tablespoons seeded and finely diced fresh jalapenos
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dash of hot sauce (optional)

For the sandwich:
8 slices white bread
8 teaspoons unsalted butter

To make the pimento cheese: In a large mixing bowl stir together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, and sugar until smooth. Add the cheddar cheese, red peppers, and the jalapenos. Stir, mashing with a fork, until well combined and relatively smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add a dash of the hot sauce if desired. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble the sandwich: Evenly butter one side of each slice of bread. Place 4 slices, buttered side down, on a work surface. On each slice, evenly spread 1/2 cup of the pimento cheese. Top each sandwich half with 1 of the remaining buttered slices of bread, buttered side up.

Preheat a griddle (or a large skillet) over medium heat. Place the sandwiches on the warm griddle and cook until the bottom is golden brown, about 4 minutes. Using a flat spatula, carefully turn the sandwiches over. Cook until the second side is golden brown, about 4 minutes.

Serves 4.

Cooking Tip: I prefer the texture of the pimento cheese better when I grate the cheddar cheese myself. But if you are in a hurry, you can use packaged grated cheese.

This recipe makes approximately 3 1/2 cups of pimento cheese. Pimento cheese will keep for up to 4 days in your refrigerator. (That is if it lasts that long!)

Back-to-the-Basics: I love the kick that the jalapenos give to this pimento cheese. But if you prefer a milder version, omit the jalapenos.

 

Praline Bread Pudding

Known as “poor man’s pudding,” bread pudding was originally created as a means of salvaging stale bread.  In my opinion, there is nothing poor about this rich-ly decadent dessert. In fact, it may be one of my favorite treats.

Every ooey gooey bite reminds me of my Grandmother’s New Orleans kitchen.  She used to make a pretty straight forward version from stale French bread, eggs, milk, sugar, and a little orange zest.  What made hers divine though was the whiskey hard sauce she whipped up to garnish it.  

Bread pudding is a pretty versatile dish. It can be made with pretty much whatever bread you have on hand…some of the popular choices being brioche, challah, croissant, panettone, French, and Italian. You can also add whatever flavorings you prefer. Some folks even make savory bread puddings. (Oyster bread pudding is one savory Louisianan version that I find irresistible.) Bread puddings are even more insanely richer with the addition of a decadent sauce like my Grandmother’s, chocolate fudge or the Praline sauce in this recipe.

One of my new favorite flavors is Praline Bread Pudding. When I was writing Simply Suppers (release date Sept 2010), it was one comfort food that I knew had to be included in my dessert chapter.  Remembering a dessert I once enjoyed at a restaurant, I turned to the talented pastry chef Heather Bugg Ries (owner of the Lady Bugg Bakery) for some inspiration. This is my simplified rendition of her to-die-for bread pudding.

Enjoy!

Praline Bread Pudding

For the bread pudding:
Unsalted butter, to grease the baking dish
6 day old large croissants, cut in 1-inch cubes and set aside in a large mixing bowl (about 8 cups)
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups coarsely chopped praline pecans 

For the praline sauce:
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon dark corn syrup
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
Pinch of salt

To make the bread pudding: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9- X 13-inch baking dish with butter and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine the milk, cream, brown sugar, eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk until combined. Pour the custard over the croissants and to coat evenly. Let stand until the croissants have soaked up the custard, about 5 minutes. Stir in the praline pecan pieces.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. 

Place the dish in a roasting pan with at least 2-inch sides. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven. Very carefully pour enough hot water around the dish to come half way up the sides of the baking dish. Slide the rack into the oven, being careful not to slosh water onto the bread pudding. Bake until set, about 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the bread pudding is puffed and golden brown on top, about 15 to 20 minutes.

 To make the praline sauce: In a medium saucepot with tall sides, place the brown sugar, baking soda, vanilla, corn syrup, buttermilk, butter, and salt. (This mixture tends to boil over if not watched).  Whisk to combine. Place over medium heat and cook, without stirring, until the sugar starts to bubble, about 3 minutes. Whisk until well combined. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking occasionally, until it starts to thicken, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve warm.

Serve the bread pudding warm with the sauce on the side. 

Serves 8.

Cooking Tips:

Praline pecans are pecan halves that have been candy-coated. They are sometimes also called candied pecans or bourbon pecans.

Dark brown sugar and dark corn syrup lend a rich molasses flavor to this dessert. It is fine to substitute light brown sugar and light corn syrup if that is what you have on hand.

Variation: Ideally you should use day-old bread for this dish. It is ok to use fresh bread in a pinch. Day-old brioche or French bread can be substituted for the croissants.

Do-Ahead: The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Reheat in a double boiler or a microwave.

Time-Saving Tip: It’s not as rich in flavor, but you can use store-bought caramel sauce in place praline sauce.


Jennifer Chandler

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