Posts Tagged 'parmesan cheese'

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.

Shrimp Alfredo

Shrimp Alfredo

Shrimp Alfredo

A decadently creamy Alfredo sauce is probably the quickest and easiest pasta sauce to whip up. Made simply of butter, Parmesan cheese, and heavy cream, a homemade version of this sauce is infinitely better than anything you could buy pre-made at the store.

This popular sauce was invented by Roman restaurateur Alfredo di Lelio back in 1914.  He added Parmesan to a classic butter sauce in an attempt to create a dish that would be appetizing to his pregnant wife.  Little did he know that this simple three ingredient sauce would become a classic in the United States thanks to Hollywood actors like Douglas Fairbanks that frequented his restaurant.

Since the sauce is made of just three ingredients, it is important to use high-quality components.  Never use margarine or a butter substitute.  Also, look for a wedge of a good Parmesan in your deli department. Pre-grated cheese won’t give you as flavorful as sauce or melt as smoothly.

I like to add a touch of freshly ground nutmeg to all my cream sauces. It’s a trick I learned in culinary school in France.  The nutmeg adds another layer of flavor to a dish. A dish is fine without it, but a little can add that special touch to the end result. The trick is to always use freshly grated nutmeg and never use the powdered version.

Serve Alfredo sauce plain over your favorite pasta or dress it up with sautéed shrimp and mushrooms like I do in this version. Chicken could easily be substituted for the shrimp if you are not a seafood fan.

Shrimp Alfredo

For the Alfredo Sauce:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pasta:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced button mushrooms
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion (1 small onion)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound medium shrimp (30/40 count), peeled and deveined
1 box (1 pound/16-ounce) fettuccine, cooked per package directions and kept warm
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

To make the Alfredo sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the heavy cream and butter to a boil. As soon as it boils, stir in the Parmesan cheese and cook until melted. Remove the sauce from the heat and add the nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and keep warm.

To assemble the pasta: In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and oil. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates and they become slightly golden, about 10 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and sauté until cooked through, about 4 minutes.In a large mixing bowl toss together the warm pasta, the Alfredo sauce, and the shrimp mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve immediately.

Serves 6 to 8.

 

 

Recipe from Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler

Story excerpted from Jennifer Chandler’s bi-weeky Commercial Appeal newspaper column Dinner Tonight.

Photo and Food Styling by Jennifer Chandler.

Butternut Squash Risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto

With Halloween this week, I thought my Meatless Monday recipe should be pumpkin-inspired!

Pumpkins and winter squashes like the butternut and acorn varieties are both of the gourd family and can be used interchangeably in most cases.  I love the flavor of the sweet “meat” of Butternut squash.  It’s my favorite of the winter squashes. I use it in soups, salads and dishes like this one.

Risotto sounds complicated, but it is actually very easy to make. All it takes is a little patience to wait for the rice to absorb the liquid.

This is the basic recipe for making risotto. Once you have mastered this simple recipe, you can make any flavor combination you are craving.

Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Risotto

1 medium butternut squash (about 1 pound)
5 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion (half a small onion)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel, halve, and remove the seeds from the squash. Cut it into 1/2-inch pieces. In a medium saucepan place the squash and enough water to cover by 1-inch. Over high heat, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until fork-tender, but not too soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a medium saucepot over high heat, bring the stock to a boil. Reduce the heat to low.

In a large saucepot over medium heat, melt the butter and oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon, making sure all the grains are coated. Cook until translucent, about 1 minute. Add the white wine and simmer uncovered until the liquid has almost evaporated, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the simmering stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently. Wait until each addition is almost completely absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup of the stock. The risotto is done when the rice is tender, but still firm.

Stir in the cooked squash and the Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the squash is reheated and the cheese is melted, about 2 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Recipe from Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler.

Flank Steak Roulade

I love dishes that look so much harder than they are to make!  When I serve them, my guests ooohhh and aaahhh over how impressed they are with my cooking skills.  Little did they know, the dish was so simple, my daughter could have assembled it!

My flank steak roulade is the perfect example of such a dish.  It makes a beautiful presentation at the table, has a delectable combination of flavors, and is a cinch to prepare!

Here’s the trick.  You take a flank steak and place it on a cutting board. Generously season it with salt and pepper to taste, layer your favorite filling ingredients, and then roll it up like a log.  Finally, I tie it up with cooking twine to ensure it holds it shape. That’s it. See, I told you it was simple!

I prefer to brown the roulade on all sides before placing it in the oven.  I think it adds flavor and texture to the meat.

For the filling, I like to use ingredients that add flavor, texture and color.  Vibrant spinach and roasted red peppers make a statement.  French fried onions add both flavor and texture to the mix.  Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese add creaminess.

Feel free to substitute ingredients that you have on hand. Sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, sautéed mushrooms, goat cheese and fresh herbs are all delicious filling alternatives.  Worried about fat?  Omit the cheese.

This delicious dish that is much easier than it looks will definitely impress your company.

Enjoy!

Flank Steak Roulade

1 flank steak, pounded about 1/3-inch thick
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ cups fresh spinach
3/4 cup FRENCH’S® French Fried Onions
1/2 cup drained and diced roasted red peppers
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the flank steak on a cutting board.  Generously season with salt and pepper. Place the spinach in an even layer over the steak. Next layer the FRENCH’S® French Fried Onions, roasted red peppers, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese on top of the spinach. Roll the steak tightly into a log.  Tie with kitchen twine every 2 inches along the length of the roll. Generously season the outside of the roulade with salt and pepper.

Place the oil in a large, oven-proof sauté pan and warm over medium-high heat until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pan. Sear the roulade until well-browned on all sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Place the roulade in the oven to finish cooking, about 20 to 25 minutes for medium. (If you like it more well done, leave it in longer.)

Let the roulade rest for 10 minutes. Remove and discard the kitchen twine. Slice into 1-inch thick slices and serve.

Serves 4 to 6.

Cooking Tip: Be sure to let the roulade rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. This ensures a juicy steak.

Variations: For the filling, feel free to substitute ingredients that you have on hand. Sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, sautéed mushrooms, goat cheese, and fresh herbs are all delicious filling alternatives.

Do Ahead: The roulade can be assembled and refrigerated one day in advance.

 

 

 

 


Jennifer Chandler

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