The Croque-Monsieur sandwich is classic French bistro fare. This past Monday I made these sandwiches for my husband and myself. They’re so decadent and delicious, and it was such a treat to have a long and lazy lunch in the middle of a busy work day (the perks of working from home). I had a few slices of sweet brioche leftover from a batch of weekend French toast. The bread is layered with a nutmeg-rich béchamel sauce, slices of ham, shredded gruyère and Dijon mustard. The sandwiches are topped with more béchamel and a sprinkle of thyme, then baked until golden and oozing. The sweet and savory combination is out of this world! I absolutely love gruyère cheese and every time I use it to make a gratin or French onion soup, I save a bit just so that I can make these sandwiches later in the week.Continue reading “Croque-Monsieur”
Our typical weekend breakfast rotation used to go a little like this: pancakes, waffles, French toast, eggs and bacon, on repeat. Recently, however, it looks more like this: French toast with berries, French toast with whipped cream, French toast with maple syrup, French toast with apples, etc. It seems like the kids ask for French toast almost every day. I don’t blame them – if there was a definitive list of the most heart-warming “Comfort Foods,” this would certainly be near the top.
There’s no shortage of recipes and variations on French Toast out there. It’s one of the most searched-for recipes on Google. Most of us have grown up eating some form of this treat, whether for breakfast or for dessert. French toast’s appeal comes from its ability to blur the lines between these two meals. In France, French toast, or pain perdu, is almost always served as a dessert. The name literally means “lost bread” because it was a way to salvage stale bread that would otherwise have gone to waste. But is French toast really? Mais non! Almost every country and culture has a method for reinvigorating stale bread with a mixture of eggs and milk. With most things that are falsely attributed to France (French fries, French doors or le French kiss) the adjective only serves to make this dish all the more appealing. Continue reading “Pain Perdu (French Toast)”
“To air condition or not?” That’s the question . . . at least it has been in our house for the last month.
A friend called on Monday. “How are you handling the heat?”
While our current heatwave is nothing compared to the one that swept Europe last month, there are afternoons when we all start to melt like snowmen and slink downstairs to seek refuge in the cool rooms on the lowest level of our house. Our home was built in the time before air conditioning. And really, many houses here in Colorado don’t have it. We just don’t need it, at least not for about ten months out of the year. As for those other two months – July and August – despite the scorching afternoons, the nights are cool enough that, if you open the windows wide when it’s dark, by morning the house is blissfully cool. And that’s just what we do. As soon as we wake up, with coffee in hand, we wander around the house closing all the windows to keep the heat out. It’s become almost a ritual, and it keeps the house cool until late in the afternoon when the cycle starts all over again. Continue reading “Tomato Galette with Sweet Basil Crust”
I love the trend of returning to our culinary roots. That’s not to say that I don’t respect the innovative chefs creating modern and exciting new adaptations of our old favourites, but the slow living movement, the trend to cook like our grandmothers once did is where my heart lies when I’m in the kitchen. Cooking real food with natural, wholesome ingredients that have names even our grandmothers would recognize. Tried and true recipe that have stood the test of time. However, there is one thing that I absolutely will not cook the way my grandmother did. Pie crust. My grandmother came from the generation of cooks who, in the 40s and 50s, embraced shortening as a better alternative to butter and used it for just about everything from hand cream to pastry dough. Continue reading “Swiss Chard & Potato Galette”
When it comes to food I can be very impulsive. My mother, of course, tried to teach me how to write a meal plan. She was a master meal-planner. Each week she’d sit down at the kitchen table with all the local sales ads, her big envelope of coupons (which I was in charge of organizing), and her recipe boxes and books. Then, with all the options laid out before her, she would fold a blank sheet of paper in half lengthwise and begin “The Plan.” On the right side of the paper she’d write the mains and sides and sometimes desserts for each day of the week; the left was for her list, separated by store, by department, and denoted by coupon. Each meal was precisely determined by what happened to be on sale at which store and by which coupons in her envelope would get her the very best deal on each and everything on her list. Continue reading “Creamed Spinach Tart”
I try not to worry about little things like the cold and flu season. I tell myself, kids get sick. It’s just a fact of life. It strengthens their immune systems when they’re young so that they are healthier as adults. Little colds here and there I can manage, but this flu season has been rough, and when there are so many teachers out sick at school that the children cannot even go out to recess because there aren’t enough adults to watch them, then I start to worry. I’m a worrier by nature, thanks to my grandmother who worried herself into four heart attacks. The best way, I believe, to stave off worry is by Continue reading “Garlic-Turmeric Soup and Ginger Tea”
I never profess to be a very good gardener, though I try. When we bought this house, we did so because of the land. It was on half an acre in a quiet suburb just outside the city, and though the house was old and a little quirky, the kitchen was small and the floors were in desperate need of refinishing, the yard was perfect for our greyhounds and the gardens had beautiful potential. I could see springs filled with fresh flowers and herbs and tender baby lettuce; summers overflowing with tomatoes, zucchini, cabbages and leeks; falls teaming with acorn squash, pumpkins and corn. There was a lilac hedge along the western edge of the property – so old-fashioned! A wild climbing rose traced thorny tendrils up the wall next to the kitchen window – so enchanting! Continue reading “Heirloom Tomato Tartines”