Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Cheesy Goodness for Dinner
It's been a pretty dismal week in New England. It's been constantly raining, and we haven't seen the sun since Saturday.
Yesterday, when deciding what to make for dinner, it suddenly occurred to me that I wanted something with cheese. I don't know why, but I just needed something kind of comforting and warming, and then it hit me that a Croque Monsieur would fill the void perfectly.
Now, I know what you must be thinking, how does Croque Monsieur fit into a lower calorie, healthy diet? Well, it's always been my motto not to deny myself something as long as it's made with fresh, real ingredients, and I don't OVERINDULGE.
It's OK to have a Croque Monsieur, as long as I regulate the portion size and balance it out with a nice big salad.
I made my Croque Monsieur open-faced, so I only used half the bread. I also used a nice, crusty, whole-grain boule, and went easy on the cheese and Bechemal sauce.
Finally, at least for me, I used no ham. I used ham on the sandwiches for the rest of my family, but I happen to not like ham, so I've pretty much always substituted tomatoes instead when I make Croque Monsieur for myself (so essentially I'm making myself a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich).
So, here's what I did.
First, I pre-heated the broiler. Then, I thinly sliced the boule and toasted the slices on a baking sheet under the broiler (you have to turn the slices mid-way to get them toasted on both sides). I grated approximately 6 oz of good Gruyere cheese, and sliced a tomato. I also chopped some fresh parsley for sprinkling on the sandwiches.
I whipped up a Bechamal sauce by melting 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and whisking in 3 tablespoons of flour. After the flour and butter were thoroughly combined I added one cup of hot milk (I poured the milk into a measuring cup then nuked it in the microwave to warm), salt, pepper and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and whisked until the mixture became thick and smooth.
Then, I assembled the sandwiches. First, I spread a little dijon mustard on the toasted bread, and topped with either sliced ham or sliced tomato. I topped that with a little of the Bechamal sauce and the grated Gruyere.
The sandwiches went back under the broiler until the cheese was melted and bubbly, then I pulled the sandwiches out and sprinkled with parsley. A big helping of salad with a light vinaigrette finished off the meal.
By the way, Croque Monseiur takes less then 20 minutes to make, and it's something even the fussiest kid will eat (I know, my daughter hates EVERYTHING), although you may have to leave the parsley off (which I do for my daughter).