Croque Monsieur

On Monday I was having a grumpy day, so I indulged myself by renting a movie off my Comcast Movies on Demand. I ended up with Meryl Streep’s “It’s Complicated”, most notable (to me) for her character’s Alice Waters-like persona and all the scenes with and discussions of beautiful food. Watching her make Croque Monsieur at one point filled me with a flaming desire to eat same myself (and also got me reading my Alice Waters cookbook again), so here’s the recipe I’ve settled on. I haven’t actually made this yet, so feel free to deviate from the instructions if the Spirit leads. I might. Pair this with a salad of simple greens and vinaigrette and a cold white wine. I might add that in the movie, Meryl sets out homemade lavendar honey ice cream for dessert, so that may be next…

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
Dijon mustard
8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

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, and the Parmesan and set aside.

To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 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. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, 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. Serves 4-8.

From Ina Garten’s 2004 Barefoot in Paris.


Chipotle Avocado Turkey Burgers

Also from Men’s Health…best source for this type of healthy yumminess!

8 oz lean ground turkey
2 wheat or whole-grain buns, toasted
1/2 avocado, sliced
2 Tbsp chipotle salsa
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Pinch of cumin
1 tomato, sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp low-fat sour cream

1. Mix the meat, salt, pepper, and cumin, and form it into two equal patties.

2. Preheat a skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat. Coat with a bit of oil and add the burgers, cooking them for 4 to 5 minutes a side, until slightly firm to the touch.

3. Dress each bun with avocado slices, tomato, and red onion. Top with the burger, sour cream, and salsa.

Per serving 419 calories, 27 g protein, 37 g carbs, 21 g fat (5 saturated), 7 g fiber, 685 mg sodium

Three Rules for Perfect Burgers

From Men’s Health.

1. Grind it out

Start with a hunk of chuck or brisket and have your butcher grind it fresh. “Make sure they use the medium grind–this will give you a juicy, moist burger,” says Hubert Keller, executive chef at Burger Bar in Las Vegas.  

2. Master medium rare

Take the meat out of the fridge an hour before cooking. “Bringing it closer to room temp helps the burger cook evenly,” says John DeLucie, chef at the Waverly Inn in New York City. Rub with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Use high heat. “If you don’t hear the sizzle when it hits the grill, you’re screwed.” Cook for 3 to 4 minutes a side, adding cheese at the end. The burger should feel soft and springy.

“Let it rest 3 to 4 minutes before eating so the juices redistribute,” says DeLucie.

3. Expand your options

Raid your fridge for items you might  not associate with burgers,” says Keller.  Keller likes mango on his turkey burger and grilled asparagus on his beef burger. Other inspired additions: zucchini, grilled shrimp, and guacamole.

Mushroom and Arugula Burger from Men’s Health

Antioxidant Burger
Mushrooms, arugula,  garlic, and ketchup all take up arms in the war on cancer.

10 oz piece of brisket
2 whole-wheat buns, toasted
2 Tbsp aioli (garlic mayonnaise, available at, or make your own)
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup arugula
1/2 c sautéed mushrooms
3 oz crumbled blue cheese

Follow the first two rules below in “3 Rules for Perfect Burgers.” Slather the buns with aioli, then top with the remaining ingredients. Makes 2 servings

Tuna Pesto Burger from Men’s Health

Heart-healthy Burger
10 oz ahi tuna, divided into two portions
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 ciabatta or focaccia rolls, toasted
2 Tbsp prepared pesto
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 tomato, sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cups mixed greens

Coat the tuna with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill on high heat for 2 minutes a side, until the outside is lightly charred but the interior is still pink and cool. Serve on a toasted bun slathered with the pesto and mayo and dressed with the vegetables. Makes 2 servings

The Big Kahuna Burger from Men’s Health

This burger is just ridiculously good. And easy. And also great post-workout; apparently it has the right carb-protein balance to repair muscles. Even if you don’t care about that, it’s so delicious it COULD be bad for you and still worth eating.

10 oz ground turkey, divided into two patties
4 Tbsp teriyaki sauce
2 slices fresh pineapple
2 thick slices red onion
2 whole-wheat buns, toasted
1/2 jalapeño, sliced thin
2 slices Swiss cheese

Cook the turkey according to “3 Rules for Perfect Burgers” (below), basting with the teriyaki sauce as you go. While the burgers cook, grill the pineapple and onion until lightly charred. Put each burger on a bun and layer on onion, pineapple, jalapeño, and cheese; top with more sauce. Makes 2 servings

Vegetarian Curry Burgers

2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
1 1/2 cups white button mushrooms, chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked and drained chickpeas
1 medium carrot, grated (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. In a medium nonstick skillet over mediumhigh heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the onion, curry powder, coriander, and fennel. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes, or until the onion starts to soften. Add the mushrooms. Stir to mix. Cover and cook for about 4 minutes longer, or until the liquid pools in the pan. Uncover and cook for about 3 minutes more, or until the liquid is evaporated.

2. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the chickpeas. Pulse until well chopped. Transfer to a bowl. Add the carrot, walnuts, cilantro, salt, and pepper and mix well.

3. Lightly dust hands with flour. Shape the mixture into six 4″ wide patties.

4. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Place the patties in the pan. Cook for about 4 minutes, or until browned.

From Women’s Health online.