First things first… Kate of Warm Olives and Cool Cocktails was up to select the first May recipe for the Barefoot Bloggers. She chose Ina Garten’s Tuna Salad. Now, I’ve already made the Tuna Salad in the past. The boyfriend loved it. I was so-so about it mostly due to the textures of the tuna and avocado together but flavor wise it was fine. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do about making the required recipe until I saw a post about a new feature called “Barefoot Backtracking” where every once in a while you have the opportunity to switch out the required recipe for one of the ones you missed in the past. Woo hoo!
I haven’t actually missed that many BB recipes since joining the group – only four: the Butterflied Chicken, Real Meatballs and Spaghetti, Meringues Chantilly and Croque Monsieur. I knew without a doubt that the Croque Monsieur was what I was making for the backtrack. I got too busy at the end of April to get that recipe completed and I saw the posting due date come and go in a flash. Even still, this French version of a hot ham and cheese sandwich stuck in my mind and tortured me as I read through my Google Reader.
Now, this isn’t the most photogenic thing out there but let me assure you that looks aren’t everything!
These were delicious. Crunchy toasty bread, mustard, tons of melted cheese, Black Forest ham and a peppery Cheese sauce…. MMMMMMM!!! I made them for an afternoon lunch on Mother’s Day and we really enjoyed them. The recipe called for Gruyère cheese which my little local store wasn’t carrying last week. I just used a regular $3.00 block of Swiss instead with no complaints. For the mustard I tried both a whole grain dijon as well as a spicy brown mustard. The ones with the spicy brown mustard tasted a little better. I would make these over and over again but next time would double or triple the amount of ham. One little piece of ham just didn’t seem to be enough on a sandwich smothered with all this cheese!
The Fabulous Ina Garten’s Croque Monsieur
Book: Barefoot in Paris
Show: Barefoot Contessa Episode: Working Girl
Rated 5/5 stars based on 68 foodnetwork.com reviews
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups) (I used Swiss cheese)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
Dijon mustard (I used whole grain dijon and spicy brown mustard)
8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin (I used Black Forest ham)
Click here for directions
Next time for Barefoot Bloggers it’s Ina’s Outrageous Brownies. Can you believe I’ve never made these before?? I’m looking forward to trying them out, I know many people use this recipe as their one and only brownie recipe.
For 69 cents at your grocery store you can get more parsley than I think any person could actually use in regular home cooking. If you opened my fridge right now you’d find this big green thing almost as big as one of the little bushes in my front yard. Every time I buy parsley I always pick it up and think “What the heck am I going to do with all this?”.
I had a lot of leftover basil from last week’s TFF as well as parsley from Barefoot Bloggers. I was determined to make a dent in both supplies by using them in other recipes instead of eventually throwing it all out. I did a search on foodnetwork.com for “Tyler and Pesto” and it came up with these Mozzarella Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. I recognized these from one of his books as well as from a few TFF members that recently made them. It was a go.
The sandwiches have a layer of pesto, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese between slices of sourdough bread. I used fresh bocconcini mozzarella packed in water which saved me about five dollars. I don’t have a cast iron skillet or panini press so I just broke out the trusty George Foreman that I’ve had FOREVER instead. It worked great, you can always count on the Foreman to get things done.
We really enjoyed these. We each ate two and I wanted to eat about ten more. I thought about them later that night, when I woke up in the middle of the night, when I got up in the morning and when I was eating something else for lunch later that day. I really hate when that happens, but these had some sort of hold over me. They reminded me of something you could get at Panera but for a fraction of the cost. At times though I thought maybe some bites lacked a little bit of a “punch” but I couldn’t pinpoint what I thought should be added flavor wise. The boyfriend said red onion. Maybe, but pesto AND red onion?? Colgate and Scope would have their work cut out for them! I would make these again though without a doubt. Thanks to Tyler for another great recipe to add to my list of regulars, and thanks to my Foreman grill for “knocking out the fat” with me since 1995.
The recipe online differs slightly from the book. I used the online version.
Tyler Florence’s Mozzarella Grilled Cheese
Show: Tyler’s Ultimate Episode: Ultimate Rainy Day
Yield: 2 sandwiches
4 slices thick-cut sourdough bread
1 ball (1 pound) fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 plum tomatoes, cut into thick slices
1 cup fresh basil pesto, recipe follows
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/2 cup Parmesan or Romano
2 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Mozzarella Grilled Cheese is my ninth post for Tyler Florence Fridays, a group with the freedom to make any recipe of Tyler’s that they choose and then share their experiences every Friday.