As you all know I was recently in Savannah relaxing with some good friends. Savannah is one of those rare places that spoke to me. It whispered sweet nothings to my heart and beckoned me to uproot my family and move further south. Unfortunately sweet Savannah has no waves for my surferboy and his pull on my heart has the upper hand.
I have to tell y’all though that being nestled in a square amidst historic town homes brought back fond memories from when I was 16 and spent three weeks in Europe. A dear family friend, who was also my confirmation sponsor took me on a life altering trip to France, Italy and Switzerland. Maria knew that with my love for art, history and literature I would not only appreciate the excursion across the Atlantic but that I would absorb each and every experience to the very marrow of my being. She was right, our trip still influences me to this day.
I couldn’t get enough of the people, history, art and to my surprise food. I didn’t know it then but I was a budding foodie. Paris where I walked the Louvre for hours was also where I discovered urban farmers markets, fresh breads and the most amazing salad dressing while dining at the Eiffel Tower. I loved it so much that the waiter had the chef come out and give me a rough recipe. Rough due to my limited french but he was patient with this excited teenager from the states. In Italy the churches took my breathe away and the sun called me home. There I was able to have a broader view of where my mothers family came from and indulge in gelatos along with deserts that I had never even dreamed of before. During those three weeks of moving from country to country and city to city I became adept at finding wonderful markets with fresh loaves of bread, artisanal cheeses and fruit which inadvertently became my staple diet for the duration.
While we were in Geneva Switzerland I discovered one of the most delicious recipes combining my love for bread and all things cheese on my trip, Croque Monsieur. Originating in France as a fast food it basically means “ham and cheese” sandwich in french. Don’t forget that Switzerland is heavily influenced by France , Italy and Germany seeing as how it is nestled inbetween those countries. Croque Monsieur is typically made with Gruyere but it is often also made with Swiss.
Fortunately for me Jarlsberg had been gracious enough to send some beautiful Swiss cheese for us all to enjoy while we were in Savannah, as well as some to take home. My biggest challenge wasn’t getting the cheese home but saving enough from the clutches of my surfer to be able to recreate one of my most memorable food experiences. The man is dangerously addicted to Swiss cheese y’all! It’s a good thing I had more than one wedge when I came home, I might have lost a finger otherwise.
This recipe is super easy. All you need is some really good homemade white bread sliced, with the crusts removed. Toast the slices of bread in the oven for approx. 5 minutes on each side until barely golden. Add your favorite mustard or herb mayonnaise and Swiss cheese on each slice. Top with thick cut ham (I used honey ham) and more Swiss cheese. Bake for approx. 5 more minutes or until the cheese begins to melt. Stack the slices into a sandwich and for the final touch place more cheese on the top. Toast until golden.
Volia! Quick, easy, scrumptious and healthy. If you would like to take your Croque Monsieur up a notch dredge the bread in a mornay or bechamel sauce before toasting in a skillet. Talk about over the top yummy y’all.
I don’t know about you guys but I’m ready to go back to Switzerland and Europe on a cheese filled adventure. Who wants to go with me?
Can you tell that I am in love with this sandwich? I can’t stop looking at it’s toasted cheesy goodness. I have to go and lock up the cheese now.
As always I hope that you guys have fun in the kitchen playing around with the recipe, feel free to make it yours. I would love to know though what is your favorite way to make a ham and cheese sandwich?
P.S.-Decadence tomorrow ;)
Croque Monsieur-Makes approx. 4 sandwiches
8 slices of homemade white bread, crusts removed.
6 thick slices of ham, your favorite.
16 slices of Swiss cheese.
*Mustard or herb mayonnaise to your taste*
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees
On a sheet pan toast the slices of bread for approx. 5 minutes on each side until barely golden.
Add Swiss cheese, ham and more cheese to each slice of bread. Toast approx. 5 more minutes or until the cheese begins to melt.
Stack the slices into sandwiches an top with more cheese.
Toast until the cheese is golden an bubbly.