French Cooking Part Two: Croque-Monsieur

It was my husband who asked what Croque meant. Ohh, you got me there! Within two seconds Google told me that the name is based on the verb croquer, which means "to crunch."  So there you have it: Mister Crunch. I still prefer the sophistication of "Croque-Monsieur."

Last weekend I headed to the country for a little R&R, fresh air and country living with my sweet pal Lynne Knowlton. (Little did I know that her plan was to get me on a snowmobile! More on that later.)

Lynne was to be my sous-chef for part two of my French Cooking project.

I had NO idea how incredibly easy it is to cook up a Croque-Monsieur or I would have made them a long time ago. (My friend Lil was definitely an inspiration as she serves up a mean one!)

For four sandwiches, all you need is: Eight slices of sandwich bread (the thinner the better), two tablespoons of Dijon mustard, four ounces of shaved ham, two cups of Gruyere cheese, and softened butter.  

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spread the Dijon on four slices of bread. 

Place a few slices of ham, followed by the Gruyere, on the mustard side of the bread. 

Cover the four slices with the remaining bread and spread butter on the outside of the sandwiches.

Place the sandwiches on an ungreased baking sheet and into the oven. 

Let cook for five minutes and then turn them over. Place the remaining Gruyere on the top of all sandwiches and cook for another five minutes, or until they are golden brown. For me, five minutes on each side was perfect.

A beautiful Bordeaux was uncorked and there we sat, stuffing ourselves with Croque-Monsieur. (Lynne had two!) 

The snowmobile ride came the following day. When Lynne told me we were going I brushed it off until she dragged me down to the snowmobile room. It's a big room filled with gear that I didn't even know existed. I thought I knew her entire house—nope!

Because it felt like a room of costumes for dress-up it was easy to get me into a suit. Being completely out of the loop about fashion-forward snowmobiling garb, I was quite happy to slip into a suit circa 1990. I actually thought I looked pretty cool. OK, maybe just a little.

Well! I have never, and I mean never! I went from yelling "I CAN'T BREATHE IN THIS HELMET. I'M GOING TO START HYPERVENTILATING. SERIOUSLY, I FEEL CLAUSTROPHOBIC. I HATE SPEED!!!" to having so much fun that the others had to yank me off!

Up Next: Tarte au citron!