Dear Husband works from on most Wednesdays, which is a nice change of pace. I am usually home by lunch time and have started trying to make a nice, small lunch for us. During the warmer months, we enjoyed lunch out on the deck but with Winter fast approaching, lunch now takes place indoors. Nevertheless, it is nice to dine together and I have begun to look forward to "Hump Day."
This past weekend, we made our favorite Lasagne for Sunday night's dinner. Our lasagne doesn't have the standard ricotta, mozzarella mixture but rather is layered with a thick and creamy Béchamel sauce. Dear Husband makes a mean Béchamel, which is basically a white sauce made from butter, flour and a milk base. It take a bit of time but it is so worth it. The Italians use it in Lasagne; the Greeks in Moussaka, the Spanish in Salt Cod Coquettes and the French in Croque Monsieur. We had a bit of the sauce left over and I knew Wednesday's lunch was destined to be Croque Monsieur.
This is an extremely popular dish for lunch in the bistros of Paris, served with a simple green salad and a glass of wine. In Belgian, they serve it without the Béchamel, so it resembles a grilled cheese sandwich, not nearly as decadent. I take mine the French way. I have already given you a small idea of what a Croque Monsieur is but let me explain further. Basically, it is a toasted ham and cheese sandwich with Béchamel sauce on the top. Simple, decadent and absolutely delicious.
Sliced bread enough for the amount of sandwiches you want to make. The French use white bread. I had wheat bread on hand and used that. Given that this is a pretty decadent dish, we normally have half a sandwich each.
Deli Ham - good quality, not too thin
Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 cup Béchamel - I am not going to give the recipe here...there are lots of them - Google it
1. Preheat the oven to 400. Place the bread on a cookie sheet and bake from 5 minutes. Flip the bread and toast for two additional minutes.
|Off to the oven they go...Croque Monsieur|
2. Spread each side of the bread with a bit of mustard. Then layer two or three pieces of ham and a bit of the shredded cheese. Cover with the remaining slice. I placed the sandwich into individual cooking dishes but you could also place on a cookie sheet.
3. Spoon the béchamel over the top, letting it drip down the sides. Place the sandwiches back in the oven and cook for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and cook for an additional two to three minutes until the tops are browning and bubbly.
4. Serve with a green salad and a glass of wine and pretend you are in Paris!