Posts Tagged 'milk'

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.

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Peppermint Ice Cream


 

One word sums up this dessert … YUM!

The combination of Chocolate and Peppermint is my favorite Holiday treat.

This year we had our Holiday family dinner early since my sisters were in town the weekend before Christmas.  As always, I am the one in charge of dessert. When I was trying to decide what to make, I remembered a Peppermint Ice Cream from Simply Recipes that I had wanted to try.  Being a chocoholic, I decided to pair this frozen treat with a decadently rich Flourless Chocolate Cake.

It was a match made in heaven!  A light dusting of crushed candy canes finished it all off.

Merry Christmas from my kitchen to yours!

Enjoy!

Flourless Chocolate Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus extra to grease the pan
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus extra to dust the pan
1/4 cup heavy cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
5 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and lightly dust with cocoa powder. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter with the heavy cream over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Add the chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, and cocoa powder until well blended.  Stir in the melted chocolate mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until set, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan before serving.

Serves 8.

Peppermint Ice Cream  — from the talented Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes.

 

 

 

Potatoes Au Gratin

This dish looks so elegant on the table that no one will believe how easy it was to make. I often serve it at dinner parties with steaks or roasts.

Potatoes Au Gratin
Adapted from Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra to grease the baking dish and the foil
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
5 medium baking potatoes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon French’s Dijon or Spicy Brown Mustard
1/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9- x 13-inch baking dish with butter and set aside.

In a large saucepot combine the milk, cream, butter, garlic, and nutmeg. Peel the potatoes and cut into slices about 1/8-inch thick. Add the potato slices to the milk mixture to prevent discoloration.

Over medium-high heat, bring the milk mixture to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are slightly tender but still firm, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to the prepared baking dish, arranging the top layer of the potatoes in an overlapping pattern, if desired. Add the Dijon and mustard and stir to combine. Pour the milk mixture over the potatoes. Sprinkle the Gruyere cheese evenly over the top. Cover the dish with a buttered piece of aluminum foil, buttered side down.

Bake until the potatoes are fork tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the potatoes are golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Serves 6 to 8.

Cooking Tip: The difference between freshly grated nutmeg and commercially ground is night and day. To grate whole nutmeg, use a special nutmeg grater or scrape the seed over the finest rasps of your box grater. I buy my whole nutmeg at the grocery in a specially designed jar with a grinder built into the lid.

Fig Ripple Ice Cream

 

My grandmother used to have a fig tree outside her kitchen door.  I have vivid memories of my Dad heading straight out the door to pick a few the moment we would arrive for a visit.  As a kid, I have to admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of figs.  The only way I ever ate them was overly processed in a Fig Newton!  But thank goodness my taste buds matured! Now, just like my Dad, I can’t get enough of this luscious fruit.

Recently, a friend dropped off a huge container of figs she picked at her in-laws farm.  There were definitely more of these ripe little treasures than I could reasonably snack on before they would turn bad.  So I decided to try to imitate a version of a divine ice cream Chef Stephen Hassinger at the Inn at Hunt Phelan (Memphis, TN) dishes up each summer.

First, I made a quick and easy jam with the ripe figs.  Some recipes may call for peeling the figs but I think leaving the fig skins on makes for an even more intense flavor. (Plus it’s easier!) Instead of plain vanilla for the ice cream base, I added a bit of sour cream.  The tartness of the sour cream offered a nice contrast to the sweetness of the figs.  Praline pecans were an added crunchy indulgence.

Hope you enjoy this creamy treat as much as we did!

Fig Ripple Ice cream

For the Fig Jam:
1 ½ pounds ripe figs, stems removed, unpeeled
1/3 cup sugar

For the Vanilla-Sour Cream Ice Cream Base:
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 ½ cups whole milk
2 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream 

1/2 cup chopped Praline Pecans (optional)

For the Fig Jam:
Puree the figs in a food processor or blender. In a medium heavy saucepan, combine the fig puree and the sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the figs have thickened into a jam, about 30 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For the Ice Cream:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.

In a heavy saucepan, combine the milk, whipping cream and vanilla extract. Cook over medium heat until just simmering.  Do not boil.

Slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture, whisking as you pour.

Return the cream mixture to the saucepan.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the custard thickens and coats the back of the spoon, about 6 minutes. Strain the custard into a clean bowl. Whisk in the sour cream. Cool the custard over an ice bath until room temperature.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.    

Freeze in an ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions.

After the ice cream stiffens (about 2 minutes before it is done), add the fig jam, 1 spoonful at a time, and the pecans. Then continue freezing until the ice cream is ready.

Serves 8.  

Cooking Tips:
This fig jam recipe is so tasty.  Feel free to save a little for your morning toast.  It will keep in your refrigerator, covered, for one week.

If figs aren’t in season, you can still enjoy this ice cream.  Substitute your favorite jarred Fig Jam/Preserves.

Glazed Lemon Pound Cake

My good friend Kristen Keegan won “Best in Show” at the Mid-South Fair with this cake.  Moist and delicious, it has just the perfect amount of lemony flavor. Serve it on its own or with freshly whipped cream and fresh berries.

Enjoy!

Glazed Lemon Pound Cake

For the cake:
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened, plus extra to grease the loaf pan      
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra to flour the loaf pan
1/4 teaspoon baking powder                                 
1/4 teaspoon salt                                                
1/4 cup butter flavor all-vegetable shortening                     
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest 

For the Lemon Glaze:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted                              
1/2 cup granulated sugar                                             
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons water

To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9- X 5-inch loaf pan.

In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix until well combined. Add the reserved flour mixture and mix until well blended. Add the milk, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and lemon zest and stir to blend. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about  60 to 70 minutes. While it is still in the pan, pierce several holes in the cake with a knife or skewer. Prepare the glaze and top before the cake is completely cooled or removed from the pan.

To make the glaze: In a small bowl combine the melted butter, sugar, lemon juice, and water. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the glaze over the cake and let the cake sit in the pan until the glaze is fully absorbed, about 20 minutes.

Remove from the pan and transfer to a serving plate. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 8. 

Cooking Tips:

Cooking for a crowd? You can easily double this recipe and bake it in a Bundt pan.

For 1 tablespoon of freshly grated lemon zest, you will need 1 large (or 2 small) lemons. For no waste, first zest your lemons and then juice them. 

Freezes well.

 

 

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.

Mac-n-Cheese with a Twist

Here’s to 2010!

Happy New Year!  Don’t know about you…but I am so excited about 2010.  It’s going to be a big year for me with a new book, some exciting new food adventures on the horizon … and this new blog!

As with all my cooking…my recipes are about getting good food on the table simply.  My posts will offer quick, easy and delicious ideas for your next meal.  I’ll also occasionally share some fabulous food finds and dining adventures.

Right now I am knee-deep in the developing stages of my next book Simply Suppers.  Set to be released in the Fall 2010, Simply Suppers is all about comfort food you can get on the table in no time flat. My editorial deadline is the beginning of March, so I am spending my days (and nights) cooking, testing and re-testing some satisfyingly delicious comfort foods.  Since I genuinely love to cook, the adventure of writing a cook book is truly a lot of fun and something I feel blessed to be able to do for a profession. (Thanks to all of you who made my first book Simply Salads such a national success!)

For my first blog entry, I’d love to share with you a recipe for these chilly January nights…my homemade and ultimately delicious Mac-n-Cheese with a Twist

Unlike the orangey-yellow boxed variety that many of us grew up on, homemade Mac-n-Cheese is a ooey, gooey, creamy delight for both the kids and grown-ups at the table. It’s a sinfully good indulgence that I just can’t pass up.

I like to use two cheeses in mine.  First, a sharp, tangy white cheddar that adds a delicious bite to the sauce.  Next, I throw in some Gruyère which adds a sweet nuttiness.  Then to truly make this pasta dish stand out, I add country ham, fresh herbs and crunchy topping made from crusty artisan bread.

Enjoy!

Mac-n-Cheese with a Twist

Serves 4 to 6

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for the casserole
½ pound macaroni
2 cups low-fat milk
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 ½ cups grated white cheddar cheese
1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ pound country ham, sautéed and cut into small dice
3 slices crusty French bread, minced to breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley

Pre-heat the oven to 375°F. Butter a large casserole dish and set aside. 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the macaroni until it is just tender, about 4 to 6 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, bring the milk just to a boil, remove from the heat, and set aside.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. When the butter foams, add the flour. Cook, whisking, for one minute. While continuing to whisk, gradually add the milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 5 to 8 minutes. Do not brown. Remove the pan from the heat. 

Stir in the nutmeg, 2 cups cheddar cheese and ½ cup Gruyère cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the macaroni into the cheese sauce and stir until well coated. Add the diced ham, thyme, and parsley and stir until well combined. Place the mixture in the casserole dish.

Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. In a small bowl combine the bread crumbs, remaining cheeses, and the melted butter. Evenly spread the bread crumb mixture over the top.

Bake until golden brown, about 40 minutes. Serve warm.

Back to the Basics: Prefer just plain old mac-n-cheese? No problem. Just omit the herbs and country ham.

Food Fact:  I just love the nutty flavor of a Gruyère. Great for melting, this firm cow’s milk cheese hails from Switzerland and is now found in most grocery stores. Freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheeses are acceptable substitutes.


Jennifer Chandler

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