Sunday, December 11, 2011

Croque Monsieur

One of my favorite movies to watch while I am just hanging out or cleaning, or just need some background noise is "It's Complicated".  Partially, because I love watching all the food that they make in it!  Primarily, the part where Meryl Streep is making a small dish for Steve Martin, and Alec Baldwin comes in and finishes it off because it is soooo good!  What is this yummy creation that she makes?  Well, it is called a Croque Monsieur, and as I did some research, I found out it is the French version of a ham and cheese sandwich. 

In France, from what I understand, the sandwich is made using bread similar to our basic loaf of white bread, but when I watched the movie, part of what I loved about it, is it looked as if she used a rustic french bread, one of my favorties out there.  Also, the ham is sliced very, I made a few revisions, as well as simplified it.  A typical Croque Monsieur will have a bechemel type sauce poured on top, but I wanted this to be something I might be able to make with items I have on hand...

Croque Monsieur

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  On one side of:

1-2 slices of rustic french bread

Gently drizzle, on one side of the bread:

Olive Oil

Sprinkle, on the oiled side of the bread:

Salt & Pepper

On the other side of the bread, spread:

A light layer of butter

On the buttered side of the bread, add:

A generous layer of very thinly sliced ham
2 slices of lorrain swiss cheese

Optionally, sprinkle some more salt and pepper on the top of the cheese.  Place the open faced sandwiches on a baking sheet (I used my metal round pizza pan, because it has holes through the bottom to allow air to crisp up the bottom of the bread).

Bake for about 5 minutes, then check the sandwich.  You may need to keep it in the oven for up to 15 minutes; it depends on your oven.  If you would like, broil for about 2 minutes to get a crisp on top.

Serve with a side salad, just to add some greens :-)

Note: I made this for Matthew for lunch one Sunday while we watched football, and he was a big fan!  A definite success!!!

Back to Basics: Lentil Soup

I have several recipes I used to make in college that are easy, inexpensive, and I typically created because I had the items on-hand.  With the winter coming on, this is one of my favorite recipes to make for the weekends I lock myself in to do work, clean, or just relax with the television or a good book.  Easy to make, albiet a bit time consuming, I find it even better as leftovers than the day of.  Fantastic on it's own or over rice, and maybe a bit of your favorite cheese on top!

Back to Basics: Lentil Soup

In a saucepan, on low or medium low heat, sweat:

1 whole red onion, finely sliced

Approximately 6 to 7 minutes. 


1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped celery

Soften the vegetables; don't be afraid to simply lower the heat a bit, cover the pot, and let the steam do the work! 


1 cup lentils, picked and rinsed
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth

Stir to combine.  Increase the geat and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook at a low simmer for about 15 minutes. 


1/2 tsp ground corriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground garam masala

Continue to cook until the lentils are tender, approximately 35 minutes total.  If you are planning on serving it over rice, you are done.  If you are planning on eating it as a soup, you may want to take this one step further, take a cup out, and blend it.  Pour it back into the saucepan and continue to heat on low for another 10 minutes.

Note: This is not something Matthew would eat, but it is one of my favorite simple dishes I can have on-hand for a quick lunch, or sitting with my feet tucked up watching a movie.