Monthly Archives: January 2017

Croque-Monsieur

When I was in France, I fell in love with the Croque-Monsieur sandwich, and I tried to find a recipe that would allow me to make its deliciousness myself. This is that recipe. The ingredients:

  • White loaf bread, like French or Italian, sliced (NOT sourdough)
  • Sliced ham
  • Dijon mustard
  • Gruyère cheese, 6 oz, grated
  • Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup, grated
  • Milk, 1.5 cups
  • Flour, 2 tablespoons
  • Butter, 2 tablespoons
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • Nutmeg (to taste)
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The ingredients.

You may find that the Gruyère cheese is a bit hard to find. And expensive. We got ours at Aldi, where it’s tolerable.

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The Gruyère.

First, grate the cheeses, slice the bread, etc etc.

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Grated cheeses.

Then put the butter in the pan and melt over low heat. We’re going to make a béchamel sauce with which to coat the sandwiches.

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Melting butter.

Meanwhile, you can start toasting some bread.

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Toasty.

Melt the butter until it just starts to bubble. Then add the flour and whisk until smooth.

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Bubbly butter.

Slowly add the milk, whisking continuously, until it thickens.

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Milk added.

Remove from the heat, add your salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and then stir in the parmesan and 1/4 cup of the Gruyère. They should melt , even though heat is no longer being applied, and further thicken up the sauce.

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The sauce.

Next, coat the toasted bread with a thin layer of mustard.

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Mustard!

Then add ham, and before putting the two halves of the sandwich together, add in some of the grated Gruyère.

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Sandwich assembly.

Add more of the Gruyère on top, and then also spoon over with a healthy portion of the sauce.

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Add stuff on top.

Finally, bake for five minutes at 400 degrees, and then broil for an additional 3-5 minutes, until the cheese topping is bubbly and browned. Then, enjoy!

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Bake, and then broil.

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So much yumminess.

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Bryn’s Orange Chicken

This was soo delicious. The ingredients:

  • Chicken thighs, boneless, 2 pounds
  • Honey, 1/3 cup
  • Soy sauce, 1/3 cup
  • Orange juice, 2 tablespoons
  • Tomato paste, 2 tablespoons
  • Sesame oil, 1 tablespoon
  • Garlic, minced, 2 teaspoons
  • Salt, 3/4 teaspoon
  • Ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Ground black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon
  • Sesame seeds (to garnish)
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The ingredients.

The only change I’d make is that, on reflection, I’d double the recipe. It went fast.

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A crock pot, in all its glory.

The recipe uses a slow cooker – and like many slow cooker recipes, it’s really easy to make. First, put the chicken in the slow cooker.

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Chicken in a thing.

Then, whisk together the other ingredients – everything except the sesame seed garnish – and pour it over the chicken.

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Whisk.

Like so.

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Chicken, covered.

Cook on low for four hours, shred, and enjoy over rice. Don’t forget the sesame seed garnish, if you like that sort of thing!

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Delicious!

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Square Thai Omelets

These were yummy, but I couldn’t get them to be square – they ended up as more of a scramble. Sorry. The ingredients are:

  • Pork, 4 oz, ground
  • Shrimp, 4 oz, ground
  • Eggs, 6, beaten
  • Garlic, 1 clove, minced
  • Tomato, 1, chopped
  • Onion, 1, chopped
  • Carrots, 1/8 cup, chopped
  • Sugar peas, 2 tablespoons
  • Fish sauce, 2 tablespoons
  • Maggi seasoning, 1 tablespoon
  • Sugar, 2 tablespoons
  • White pepper, 1/4 teaspoon
  • Oil, 3 tablespoons
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The ingredients.

The first step was preparing a few of the ingredients. I could but the pork ground, but I had to mince the shrimp myself. A knife was a relatively crude tool, but it worked well enough.

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Mincing meat.

I sliced the peas along with the other veggies, and I liked it that way. But you do you.

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Slicing veggies.

The next step starts with frying the garlic in a tablespoon of the oil.

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Garlic in a pan.

Then add the meat.

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Meat in a pan.

Then add the sugar, pepper, fish sauce, and Maggi seasoning.

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More stuff in a pan.

Then add the veggies, and cook until your desired level of tenderness.

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Still more stuff in a pan.

The rest is simple. In another pan, you’ll make four omelets. Add oil and about a quarter of the eggs.

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Eggs in a pan.

Then add some of the goodness from the other pan.

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The omelet in process.

You can try to make a square omelet, like I did, but you may end up with a scramble, like I did. Regardless, it’s good. Repeat until you’ve made everything, and enjoy.

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Good stuff.

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Panang Curry Paste

You’ll find a few recipes for panang curry paste online, but this one is derived from the Thai cooking book I’m working through. It calls for:

  • Onions, 1/2 cup, chopped
  • Garlic, 1/2 cup, chopped
  • Galangal, 2 tablespoons, chopped
  • Lemon grass, 1/4 cop, chopped
  • Jalapeno peppers, 4 ounces, dried
  • Shrimp paste, 2 tablespoons
  • Kaffir lime skin, 2 tablespoons
  • Salt, 1 teaspoon
  • Coriander powder, 1/4 cup
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The ingredients.

This recipe is pretty simple: combine everything and blend into a paste. Done. I didn’t use as much dried jalapeno as it called for; I sed about 2 oz. Even so, bear in mind as you blend it that it’s rather dry.

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The garlic.

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To be blended.

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Blent.

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Massaman Curry Paste

Before you make a Massaman Curry in the Thai book I’m working through, you need to make a constituent ingredient – the paste. And that requires quite a few ingredients, some of them esoteric. They are:

  • Jalapeno peppers, 4, dehydrated
  • Onions, 1/2 cup, chopped
  • Garlic, 1/2 cup, chopped
  • Lemon grass, 1 tablespoon, chopped
  • Shallots, 2
  • Galangal, 2 thin slices
  • Star anise powder, 1 tablespoon
  • Cumin, 1 tablespoon
  • Cinnamon, 1 teaspoon
  • Cilantro, dried, 2 tablespoons
  • Kaffir lime skin, 1/4 teaspoon
  • Oil, 5 tablespoons
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The ingredients.

For instance, the recipe called for star anise powder. I didn’t happen to have any powder handy, but I do have the star anise. So it was a simple matter of using our spice grinder to create the powder we needed.

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Unground.

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Ground.

Similarly, with the cilantro. I didn’t have any already dried, so I dried some myself, like so:

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You wash it…

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Put it in a pan lined with parchment paper…

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…And some indeterminate time later, voila!

Galangal can also be hard to get. It’s a ginger-like root that I’ve only ever found in Asian markets. The last time I got any, I got a lot, and froze the excess. Some I froze as slices – seen here – and the rest as shredded galangal. As for the jalapenos, I tried drying some myself – both in the oven and in the open air. But that didn’t work so well, so I had to order these from Amazon.

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Galangal and jalapenos.

The Kaffir lime zest was the hardest to acquire. Normal lime zest simply won’t do; the Kaffir limes have an entirely different flavor, as does their zest. They’re one of the flavors that make certain Thai dishes – and Thai pastes, like this one – taste the way they do. But no matter where I looked, no one carries Kaffir limes – not even the Asian markets I’ve visited.

Fortunately, I found a grower in California that will ship you a box of fresh Kaffir limes – if the season is right. I ordered mine in December, and now that it’s January, I see that they’re still available. This is their 5-pound box:

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The box the limes came in.

Preparing the limes was an involved process – I had five pounds, after all. First, I washed them. Then, I zested with a microplane. Finally, it made no sense to throw away the lime juice, so I squeezed them all and froze the juice – enough for two complete batches of carnitas.

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About a third of the limes I got.

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The zesting process.

I froze the zest as well, to retrieve and use later, as required.

With all that prelude out of the way, making the paste was relatively straightforward. You prepare the onions and garlic, like so:

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Onions & garlic.

Then you melt the oil (I used coconut, but you don’t have to).

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The oil-melting process.

Add the onions, garlic, and dried jalapeno, and fry until golden brown.

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Fry until…

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…golden brown.

Then add everything – first the other ingredients, and the stuff you just fried – into a blender, and blend, blend, blend. Once you do, then you’re done, and you can put it in a jar and put that in your fridge or freezer, as you like.

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Blending.

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Blended.

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