I love Croque Monsieurs and Croque Madames. I love the creamy sauce oozing over the crunchy corners of bread and the salty smoky ham inside. For the Croque Madame, I love the fried egg cooked in a hot buttered skillet, then slapped on top of the freshly broiled sandwich. Unfortunately, making multiple croques simultaneously at home is not convenient, and then neither Olivia nor Jackson will have anything to do with a fried egg. Sigh.
This dish consolidates the flavors of Croque Madame; egg, ham, gruyere and a creamy béchamel augmented by honey mustard, gruyere cheese and a hint of nutmeg. I find cubing the bread helps reduce any sharp corners of crust and they better absorb the custard mixture.
Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray’s Croque Monsieur Casserole
Olivia and I love the Starbucks spinach and broccoli cheese pie, which for some reason, has disappeared from the local Hong Kong outlets over the last few weeks. This savory, bright and comforting treat became our go to item at the Hong Kong airport, or around town when we wanted something other than starch for a snack. We kept saying that we should try and replicate it at home, and since the disappearance of this pie, it seemed like the time had come to experiment.
Based on the item description, we knew the two main vegetables. Also, I detected a hint of oregano which reminded me of spanakopita and thus it seemed that a bit of creamy feta and ricotta would do the trick. Well – big surprise, our local Hong Kong grocery store did not have ricotta cheese that week, so cottage cheese to the rescue! Sometimes ricotta can be grainy so I actually vote for creamy cottage cheese, even if it is less sophisticated.
We don’t like pre-made pie crusts, so I made the Cream Cheese Pie Crust from the Kitchn. Unfortunately I lack a food processor, so I made the crust old school style with a pastry cutter. Due to the high humidity here, I only used 1/2 the amount of water. This recipe makes enough for 2 full 9″ pie crusts. Please note, crust dough needs to rest in the refrigerator 45-60 minutes. Clearly, you could make this in a traditional sized pie crust, but then they wouldn’t be nearly as cute – or portable in school lunches!
Even if you think that this is too brown looking or boring for you, you might want to reconsider, if only to create a yummy rich fragrance for your home. There is nothing better than butter, wine and shallots bubbling away. I don’t usually like …
It is neither pesto nor guacamole (but you knew that based on the mint garnish, right?) A bright and herby lemony fresh dip that goes well with fresh or toasted baguette, or just as great as a dollop on a cherry tomato or sliced cucumber. And guess what? The next day you can thin with a 1/4 – 1/2 cup of boiled pasta water and stir through cooked ravioli or any short pasta.