Croque Monsieur Recipe: A Parisian Classic

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One of my favorite aspects of Parisian life is the relaxed schedule. Rather than punctuating long workdays with hasty meals, the French seem to punctuate long days of eating with a few hours of work. Granted I am biased, as my time there has been as a student or vacationer, but it’s a bias I hope to savor. I have fond memories of long lunches at sidewalk cafes, almost always eating my favorite late afternoon snack of choice: a croque monsieur. This sandwich is a relative of the American grilled cheese (much in the way the Concord is relative of a Cessna).

My children now adore Croques Monsieurs. While one can take shortcuts in making them, I highly recommend following the recipe in full.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter

1 1/2 tablespoons flour

1 cup milk

1/2 tsp. salt

2 1/2 Gruyere or other Swiss cheese, grated

1/4 cup Parmesan, grated

8 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed

8 oz sliced ham

Instructions:

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon or whisk for 2 minutes. Pour the milk into the butter/flour mixture in slow stream, whisking. Cook, while steadily whisking, until the sauce is thickened. Turn off heat and add ½ cup Gruyere, all of the Parmesan, and salt.

Toast bread.

Assemble sandwiches as follows (bottom up), dividing ingredients evenly between four sandwiches: bottom slices of toast, ham, 1 cup Gruyere, tops slices of toast, cheese sauce, 1 cup Gruyere.

Broil 5-7 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned.

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Lauren Capitani was an early foodie. While her friends were busy watching Family Ties , she was tuned into Graham Kerr and Yan Can Cook, and served her friends and family dishes such as beef wellington and baked alaska while still a teen. After college, Lauren received Masters' degrees in both journalism and business and worked in both subsequent fields. At 29, she decided to rewrite her life and became an assistant teacher. For the first time, her vocation became her avocation. She now has certification in both both elementary and early childhood education and has taught at seven schools on both coasts (and in between). Lauren has lived summers in France, England, Spain, Japan, and Thailand, and has visited more than a dozen other countries. When her own children start limiting their food choices, Lauren turned it into a teaching moment and created One World Whisk, a global cooking initiative for children. The project garnered more than 200 followers before its one-month charter was complete.

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