Scrumptious Sunday: Croque Madame & Monsieur

Hi kids!

Our latest Scrumptious Sunday took a decidedly French twist when we decided that our next experiment would be Croques. It was my absolute favourite breakfast/brunch, but you just know it’s yummy enough to eat any time of the day. There is a restaurant in Amsterdam (one of our favourites) that makes the best Croque Monsieur I have ever had the privilege to devour (stuffing my face would be a more accurate description). Seriously, if you find yourself in Amsterdam, make sure to drop by De Ysbreeker and have a Croque Monsieur. The rest of their food is excellent too, and you can get anything from a muffin, croissant, full on breakfasts, sandwiches and even soups and things… Another recommendation to have there is an Uitsmijter. Go ahead. Click on the link. Get ready to drool. I’m getting distracted again. Let’s get back on track. Here’s a look at the Croque Monsieur I had at De Ysbreeker.

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You can find a Croque Monsieur or Madame at most cafés in France too, but oddly enough – I enjoyed my Amsterdam one more than the couple I had in Paris. The basic formula for a Croque is some good, thickly sliced, fresh, almost sweet white bread, some ham, some cheese (more than one type FYI) and a Béchamel so good it tastes like it could have dripped straight from heaven onto your bread. It’s warm, and salty from the ham, and sweet from the bread, and savoury from the cheeses and oh so gooey from that Béchamel. The difference between a Croque Monsieur and a Croque Madame is an egg. That simple. The Monsieur is sans egg, the Madame, well, you can guess I’m sure, has the egg. So predictable. Ironically, whenever the beau didn’t have an Uitsmijter, he would have a Croque Madame. We had a couple of Har-di-har-har moments with some waiters in Paris… “One Monsieur for ze Madame, one Madame for ze Monsieur..” Har-har-har. I know you’re rolling your eyes at me. That’s okay. We know the level of corny I can reach is astronomical. Enough chit chat though, let’s get to it. We used a Barefoot Contessa recipe. As much as the beau disdains watching Ina’s show (he’s fine with all the other food programs I watch, just not HERS), I adore her.

We found that the most efficient way was to start with the Béchamel. Once that’s done, you can let it stand since it will be warmed up in the oven again anyway. Also – grate your cheese before you start assembly. Get everything in order so that it goes smoothly. The less stress in the kitchen, the better time you’ll have. So here’s the recipe (from here):

Croque Monsieur

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1 teaspoon Maldon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
5 cups Gruyere, grated (We used a strong Cheddar – Gruyere is ridiculously expensive in South Africa)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
8 slices white sandwich bread
Dijon mustard (I used some of my homemade mustard – I’ll share the recipe next week when I cook up a new batch)
4 slices ham (anything should do fine – we used Cooked Ham), sliced but not paper thin

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/ 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere/Cheddar, and the Parmesan and set aside.

To toast the bread, place the slices on baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.

Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere/Cheddar. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere/Cheddar, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.

To make this into a Madame, fry an egg when the sandwiches are ready to be broiled, and when they come out, just slide the egg on top. Easy-peasy, right? I will say this though: next time I’d want to try it with the Gruyere. They were really good the way we made them, and you shouldn’t even for one second doubt whether to make this if you don’t have Gruyere. They were delicious with the cheddar. And melty. And really satisfying. The perfect end to a Sunday. I just think that the Gruyere would add more of a sharp and savoury note, and give it that final touch of authenticity. Here are our results:

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Give it a try… You won’t be sorry. I promise.

Much Love

 

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Officially Off the Market

Gasp!

You guys, I’ve been such a bad blogger…I’m so very sorry. BUT, I have huge news!

I’m engaged!… Here’s our story:

We planned a trip to Europe with his family, and the family decided to rent a chateau in France for Christmas. As the time grew closer, I kept thinking that a proposal in Paris would be epic! When I finally jokingly mentioned it to him, he very emphatically (and repeatedly) stated that the trip to Europe was all I could hope for, since he was taking me for almost 4 weeks, and travelling in Europe is super expensive. A couple of weeks before our departure he told me that he had the choice of a ring, or our trip, and he obviously chose the trip. I was clearly disappointed, and he apologised and told me that we might be able to afford a ring in 2014. Then, a couple of days before we left, he told me that we would have to use some of the money I had kept aside for my planned IKEA shopping spree (it should be noted that this was money I had saved for almost a year, and had kept separate from our joint Europe savings) to pay for the accommodation in France, and our visas. I was fuming. Livid, really. We had a huge fight, and I couldn’t understand where all his money went, and I was upset that I had to sacrifice MY savings! (Yes, I was being a brat – I know that…I am quite ashamed of that… ) He told me that the flights were more expensive than what he budgeted for, and that we really didn’t have a choice but to use my IKEA fund. We left it there, and moved on. I didn’t give it another thought.

Throughout the first week and a half our trip, we were in Amsterdam, visiting with Faul’s eldest brother and his wife and kids. I secretly kept hoping that there might be a proposal, but knew in the back of my head it wouldn’t happen.

We departed for France in our rental car on 22 December, and spent one night in Brussels, before driving the rest of the way to France. On the 24th, we went into Paris for the first time. (Our house was about 40mins’ train ride outside of the city) We were shown around by his eldest brother, with almost the entire family with us. We went to go see the Notre Dame and then walked to the Pont Neuf – the oldest bridge in Paris, where his brother told us a bit about the city. We all decided to go to a café for drinks, but Faul held me back. He said he wanted to go down the stairs at the bridge, because the bridge runs over a little island and he wanted to go look. I wasn’t really feeling it, because it started drizzling a bit, and it was cold! I told him we had a whole week in France, and that we could come back another day…But he insisted, so down we went. As we walked to the tip of the island, he grew quiet, holding my hand very tightly. We got to the end of the island, and there were three very dodgy looking Eastern European guys just standing around, smoking and talking in hushed tones. It was very freaky, and we felt the need to leave! He then said we should just take a picture and get out of there, and he looked quite sad.

We started walking back to the bridge, and halfway to the stairs, he stopped and snaked one arm around my waist and kissed me. We were kissing in the cold wind, with tiny droplets of rain falling on our skins – when I felt a smile on his lips against my lips. I felt his body moving a bit, and could tell his free arm was reaching into his pocket, when without moving his lips from mine, he said that he had something to ask me…

I started squealing, and jumping up and down, when he took the box out of his pocket. When he opened it, my heart stopped. It was the most gorgeous ring I have ever seen – and exactly what I wanted. He said he wasn’t going down on one knee, because it was wet (and he had new pants on!) but he wanted to know if I would marry him. It took me a couple of minutes to answer, after all, talking is difficult if you’re squealing and kissing the love of your life all over his face.

We walked to a café, where his family were waiting with a bottle of French Champagne to congratulate us, and I was showing my ring off to anyone who even glanced our way!

We added a padlock in the lovers tradition to the fence on the Pont des Arts, the bridge right next to the Pont Neuf. We placed it directly in line with the tip of the island – forever commemorating the place where we got engaged.

It was such a magical day. It is such a magical time.

I’ve entered a competition to win an AMAZEBALLS prize for our wedding, and would love it (and adore you) if you would click on this link and leave a comment: http://saweddingvenues.com/proposals-2014/marle-faul/

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More about our trip later!

Later, dolls. (Go comment – do it. Do it now.)

 

A bespoke trip to Amsterdam, Berlin & Paris worth R55,000

Hi friends!

I just wanted to share another GREAT competition with you. (I reason the more competitions I enter, and put out there, the more likely I will be to EVENTUALLY win something.) Right? Right?!

Anyway, this is an amazing prize. And you guys know how I love to travel. Side note – I think my next tattoo should be something about travelling… Any ideas?

Check out the link, and if you feel like it’s a prize worth winning – enter away! Good luck, contenders! May the odds be ever in your favor. (Ahem, Hunger Games reference. Yes, I am aware that I am dorktastic. I also happen to think it’s adorkable.)

http://designereurope.co.za/cnXJPWX0

Much Love