Croque-Monsieur Breakfast Casserole

A family Thanksgiving tradition: Before Susan and I head over to a relative’s home for a wonderful Thanksgiving family get-together and delicious dinner, we host our daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren for breakfast, gift-giving, watching the Macy’s Parade and the dog show.

“Is that present for me?” one of the grandchildren asked.

In years past I have made quiche, frittata and sushi. Susan found the recipe for the casserole online and suggested it would be extra special and delicious. And it was.

Reading from The New York Times:

“This French classic needs little introduction, but if you haven’t had it in baked form, you’re in for a treat. Think upscale ham sandwiches drenched in egg custard and cheese, melted to a deep golden-brown. There are no tricks here, save for the addition of two extra yolks for maximum French-toast tenderness. Serve it warm, or at room temperature — a fitting breakfast feast that’s welcome any time of the day.”

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
  • 1 (10- to 12-ounce) day-old or stale baguette, sliced 1/2 inches thick
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 6 ounces French-style or thin-sliced deli ham
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • 1 ½ cups half-and-half or heavy cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese (packed 1/4 cup)
  • Parsley, leaves torn, mustard, and cornichons, for serving (optional)

Preparation

  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees and generously butter a 9-by-13-inch (or 1 1/2- to 2-quart) baking pan. Butter the slices of bread on one side and spread a thin layer of mustard on the other side. Arrange, shingled, over the bottom of the pan, buttered side up; you may not need all the bread. Drape evenly with ham.
  2. Whisk together milk, half-and-half, egg, egg yolks and pepper. Pour evenly over the bread and ham. Sprinkle with Gruyère and Parmesan cheeses, allowing the ham to peek out in places. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes (for the bread to sop up the milk) or up to overnight. Bake until the custard is set, and the bread and cheese are golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes.
  3. Remove from the oven and allow to set 20 minutes before scattering evenly with parsley. Scoop and serve warm or at room temperature, with mustard and cornichons.

Here is our Thanksgiving Breakfast table:

Here is a closer look at the Morning Glory Muffins.

And here we all are:

Here is the menu:

Friday At The Park

The Burning Bush.

“The tragedy of our wilderness experience is not that we have to go through grief and suffering- but that we often miss the blessings from burning bushes—the things through which God speaks…”

~Jamie Buckinghamhttp://jamiebuckinghamministries.com/

Susan Loves Short Ribs

Braised Short Ribs with Onions, Curry Leaves, and Unsweetened Coconut Flakes.

Susan loves salmon, too. Pasta and meatballs. Haddock.

She loves all the meals I make. I am the chef. She is my Sous Chef. Or, if you prefer, my “Sue Chef.” In fact a few days ago she came home from food shopping with a some dry salami, olives and sweet peppers to add to the pizza I was making that evening.

She’s always finding recipes for me. Clipping them from newspapers and magazines and finding them online. She found the Short Rib recipe in Bon Appetit magazine when she was at The Lift having her hair cut and colored.

Quoting from the magazine:

“Two ingredients make these braised short ribs stand out: fresh coconut and curry leaves. Unlike dried coconut, the fresh stuff doesn’t need to be toasted to bring out its natural nutty and sweet flavors (though dried will work just fine here in a pinch). Fresh curry leaves impart a subtle citrusy, nutty, lemongrass-like taste unlike anything else and are an excellent contrast to the richness of the ribs. They are readily available online if you can’t find them at a local market. This is our answer to the classic big, meaty braise.”

Ingredients:

3lb. bone-in beef short ribs

Kosher salt

2 Tbsp. ghee or clarified butter

3 large onions, thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, finely grated

1 2″-piece ginger, peeled, finely grated

¼cup tomato paste

3 Tbsp. garam masala

3 Tbsp. ground coriander

2 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. cumin seeds

1 tsp. ground turmeric

3 sprigs fresh curry (about 30 leaves)

½ cup fresh or frozen grated coconut or dried unsweetened coconut

2 lb. medium Yukon Gold potatoes, halved lengthwise

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

Cilantro leaves with tender stems and lime wedges (for serving)

Preparation

Step 1

Pat short ribs dry; season with salt. Heat a dry Dutch oven over medium. Cook ribs until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer ribs to a plate with tongs.

Step 2

Preheat oven to 350°. Add ghee to fat in pot and heat until melted. Add onions, garlic, and ginger and mix to coat. Cook, stirring, until onions are softened and starting to turn translucent, about 2 minutes. Stir in a pinch of salt, cover pot, and cook until onions are golden, 8–10 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring often, until onions are golden brown, 15–20 minutes. Most of the water will have cooked off at this point and there might be some bare spots where the onions could start to burn. If this happens, stir in a splash of water. The liquid will dissolve the cooked-on bits, which onions will reabsorb. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are deeply browned and almost blackened around the edges and very soft, 8–10 minutes.

Step 3

Add tomato paste, garam masala, coriander, paprika, cumin seeds, and turmeric to onion mixture, season generously with salt, and cook, stirring, until spices are fragrant, about 2 minutes (you should have a thick dark brown paste). Add curry leaves, coconut, and 3½ cups water and mix to make a thick braising liquid. Return short ribs to pot, nestling in so they are covered in some liquid. Bring to a simmer, cover pot, and braise in oven until liquid is thickened and meat is tender and falling off the bones, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Step 4

Meanwhile, arrange potatoes, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour in 1½–2 cups water so it covers baking sheet in a thin layer. Cover with a double layer of foil, crimping sides very tightly to seal.

Step 5

When ribs have cooked 1 hour, slide potatoes on a rack just below pot and bake until a fork slides easily through them, about 45 minutes. Let potatoes cool 5 minutes.

Step 6

Increase oven temperature to 500° (or as high as your oven goes). Using tongs, lift up foil at 1 corner; pour off water into the sink (foil will hold back the potatoes). Remove foil and drizzle oil over potatoes; season generously with salt and pepper. Let sit until cool enough to handle, then toss to coat. Turn potatoes cut side down again.

Step 7

Roast potatoes until skins are golden and cut sides are deeply browned and crisp, 20–25 minutes. Transfer to a large shallow bowl or platter.

Step 8

Serve reserved short ribs with cilantro and lime wedges and roasted potatoes.

Do ahead: Ribs can be braised 1 day ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.

Note: I skipped steps 4, 5, 6 and 7. Instead, I cooked the potatoes, and some carrots in the same pot with the short ribs.

Bon Appetit!

Transformation

This was last night’s sunset:

The sunset one year ago:

This message from “Science of Mind Magazine: Guide for Spiritual Living,” by Rev. Dr. Petra Weldes, in an essay entitled “A (R)evolution of Consciousness = Transformation,” sent to me by my wife, speaks to me about these sunsets, time, change, transformation, and love.

“No matter how awful things are, whether it’s individual illness or loss, systemic racism or environmental destruction, we can always evolve and grow. This evolution requires a complete transformation of our sense of self and, therefore, possibility. It is the product of a willingness to do more than simply rail against what’s wrong and then try to change things by “making them better.”

“Fundamentally, what is needed is a profound (r)evolution of consciousness. We must evolve beyond thinking of ourselves as merely human, and therefore victims of outer circumstances, to embodying the truth of the indwelling Presence of Spirit. This (r)evolution is the transformation of our identity from human beings who are striving to be spiritual to, as Pierre De Chardin says, “spiritual beings having a human experience.”

“This (r)evolution becomes the solid ground from which we make things better because we know and trust that all of life is evolving and progressing toward greater self-expression. This allows us to speak boldly, act confidently and expect cheerfully that humanity is, in fact, able, capable and designed to create better lives and a better world. Progress and evolution that out-pictures Life is inevitable, despite the manifestations of ignorance and destruction. As spiritual beings, we seize every opportunity to engage in transforming awful situations from a positive conviction that humanity is guided by Intelligence and impelled by Love to evolve and grow.

Affirmation: Life is always for more and greater self-expression. I trust in the creative impulse and infinite intelligence that is constantly causing a (r)evolution in the consciousness of humanity.”

Autumn. A season of transformation. The days grow shorter and colder. The remaining leaves in the trees are pumpkin-colored and soon will fall to the ground. Life IS evolving. I AM evolving.

This Is Me

Self Portrait. November 4. “Antonio Barone” catalog. No relation to me–as far as I know. Born in Sicily. Studied with William Merritt Chase at the Chase School in NYC, which later became Parsons School of Design. Worked in NYC and California. Catalog from Barridoff Galleries in Portland, Maine. Barone painted portraits, landscapes, still lifes. Here we also see Antonio’s self portrait.