Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Art of the Fancy Sandwich: Croque Madame

Hi everyone!

It's recipe time! This was one of the last meals I made in Connecticut, and it turned out to be one of the most challenging I have ever attempted. Surprisingly enough, it was a sandwich - but don't let that fool you. The croque madame is a beast, though it is definitely worth the patience required to make it. Mr. G had to help me with this one, and thank goodness he did... I don't see how it's possible to make it with less than 4 arms. Timing is everything for this dish. After nearly burning the bread AND the sauce (which also seemed too thick), it was still the most delicious sandwich I have ever tasted.

I got inspired to make it after a wonderful date night in NYC with the husband. You see, once we made the decision to move to Minnesota, I told Mr. G we had to do 2 more things before leaving the East Coast - see a Broadway show in New York, and go to Boston for the day. Mr. G came through, of course, and New York was first up - my Valentines Day present this year was tickets to any show of my choice. :) I decided on Wicked, and it ended up being an all-around incredible night that started off with a surprise carriage ride through Central Park! For those of you who don't know, Central Park was where Mr. G proposed last January, and it was supposed to be after a romantic carriage ride; however, it was too cold for the carriages to run that night (1 degree too cold, in fact - they are unmerciful), so he promised me he would eventually take me on the carriage ride I was supposed to have. Thankfully, he remembered even though I had almost forgotten... I have a very romantic husband. :)

Anyway, after our chilly but sweet carriage ride through the park, we went to a cute little French restaurant called Maison. I had mushroom ravioli, and Mr. G had croque madame. My pasta was good, but his sandwich was out of this world! It looked easy to make, too, so I was determined to do it. Little did I know that sometimes the simplest meals can have the most complicated recipes...

Here is the recipe I used - I got it from the Epicurious app on my iPhone:

  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk (we used 1%)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/3 cups coarsely grated Gruyere cheese (we just used slices of swiss cheese - no Gruyere at Stop n Shop)
  • 8 slices firm white sandwich bread (wheat and flimsy is also fine, but firm bread adds more texture)
  • 4 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 lb. thinly sliced cooked ham
  • 4 large eggs
  • Make sauce first:
    • Melt 3 tbsp. butter in a 1 to 1 1/2 quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, then whisk in flour and cook roux, whisking, for 3 minutes.
    • Whisk in milk and bring to a boil, whisking constantly.
    • Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, for 5 minutes.
    • Whisk in salt, pepper, nutmeg, and 1/3 cup cheese until cheese is melted (this was challenging with sliced cheese... definitely get grated).
    • Remove from heat and set out wax paper to make sandwiches.
  • Make sandwiches:
    • Spread 1 1/2 tbsp. sauce evenly over 4 slices of bread, then sprinkle evenly with remaining cheese (1/4 cup per slice, or just slap on a piece of swiss like yours truly).
    • Spread mustard evenly on remaining 4 bread slices and top with ham, then invert them onto cheese-topped bread to form sandwiches.
  • Cook sandwiches on skillet:
    • Melt 1 tbsp. butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately low heat
    • Cook sandwiches on skillet (we could fit 2 at a time), turning over once until golden - 3-4 minutes total.
    • Remove sandwiches from heat and transfer to baking pan.
  • Cook sandwiches in the oven:
    • Preheat broiler.
    • Top each sandwich with 1/3 cup sauce, spreading evenly.
    • Broil sandwiches 4-5 inches from heat until sauce is bubbling and golden in spots for 2-3 minutes (ours took longer - depends on your oven).
    • Turn off broiler and transfer pan to lower third of oven to keep warm.
  • Fry eggs:
    • Heat remaining tablespoon of butter in nonstick skillet over moderate heat.
    • Crack eggs into skillet and season with salt and pepper.
    • Fry eggs, covered (?), until whites are just set and yolks are still runny - should take 3 minutes.
  • Take out sandwiches and top them all with fried eggs. Serve immediately, and enjoy!
See what I mean? Not as easy as it looks. But so worth the wait, trust me. Also, fun fact - if you leave off the egg, the sandwich is called a Croque Monsieur!

In other news, my DIY projects are coming right along. I've bought all my supplies (see below), and I've even painted 2 tiles already for the kitchen! And would you believe it - they look awesome! Hope everything else turns out as well. I'll post pics of the tiles once I finish them all.

I also went thrift shopping for the first time ever, and it was so much fun! I had a great day all by myself haha. Check out these cool things I found at Unique Thrift:


Unique is actually a pretty popular thrift store in the Twin Cities area. I was there yesterday, and it was PACKED - in the middle of the day on a Tuesday! People sure love their bargains here. I will definitely be going back, though. As for what I bought, the mirrors I plan on hanging in my kitchen (in place of the window/mirror I saw at T.J. Maxx - I actually like these better!). They have the look of cathedral windows, which I feel goes along with the Mexican-esque theme I'm going for in the kitchen. The blue candlestick is what I'll use as the base of a cake plate I'm going to make - yet another DIY project haha. I guess I can now go on the record to say that I am crafty... and thrifty! Everything in that photo cost a total of $7. Can't beat that!

I hope I'm not turning into one of those budget-crazy women who obsess over finding the best deals. There is no harm in being budget savvy, but extreme couponing? Really?? Come on, now. (I do kinda want to watch that show, though.)

That's all for now. Can't wait to finally get our couch tomorrow! Yay!


<3 Mrs. G

P.S. I start work next week at the Mall of America, so (sadly) I probably won't be posting quite as often as I am now. But I'll try! Wish me luck at the new job! Still interviewing for others. I'll keep you posted!

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