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:

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!

Fig & Goat Cheese Pizza

So delicious!

Heat cast iron pan in oven while oven preheats. Take pan out of oven when done preheating. Lightly oil pan. Spread dough in pan. Be careful! Lightly oil dough. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Take pan out of oven. Spread caramelized onions over dough (Yes. I made caramelized onions, too!), along with figs (I used 5, halved and cut into thirds.) and crumbled goat cheese (I used about 4 ounces.) Put back in oven and bake for about 5-7 minutes.

Enjoy with some arugula. YUM!

Cast Iron Pan Pizza

I have been making my pizzas recently in my cast iron pan. I love it.

Preheat oven to 475 with the pan in the oven. Once preheated, carefully take pan out of oven. Oil pan gently. Spread your pizza dough VERY carefully in pan. I use Mark Bittman’s pizza dough recipe. Put pan back in oven for about 5-7 minutes. Take pan out of oven. Put your toppings on pizza. Brush a little bit of olive oil on crust. Put back in oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy! Below we have a mushroom, ground bison, tomato, red onion, mozzarella pizza.

Maybe you would like a slice. There is a plate here with your name on it!

Some other recent pizzas!

Margherita Pizza
Mushroom and Spinach.
Sausage and red onion on one side. Margherita on other.

This Past Weekend

Pizza Margherita
Peach & Raspberry Cobbler by Susan
Clematis
Zinnia
Local Farm Stand Corn
Freddy
Morning Glory
Roses and Garden Statue
Japanese Stake and Spinach Stir Fry
Bruce’s Garden
Corn Raspberry Muffins

Herb-Crusted Haddock

This is delicious. Herb-Crusted Haddock with Tomato Maple Salsa. Served with Asparagus with Lemon Chive Sauce.

All recipes from one of my favorite cookbooks–both a wonderful cookbook and garden design book, by Ellen Ecker Ogden.

The Haddock recipe called for a Fresh Fennel Salsa but I forgot to buy the fennel when I was grocery shopping so I made the Tomato Maple Salsa, which was out-of-this world!

Ellen writes:

“In Vermont we add maple syrup to everything, including fresh tomatoes and herbs for a fresh, tangy salsa. The sweet syrup tames the acidity of tomatoes, add the small bite of hot peppers and it is an explosion of flavors. Don’t be daunted by the list of ingredients, it all comes together quickly.”

Ingredients

6 medium vine ripe tomatoes (3 pounds)
2 sweet peppers, finely diced (2½ cups)
2 medium onions, finely diced (2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, minced (1 teaspoon)
1 Habanera pepper, minced (1 tablespoon)
1 Jalapeno pepper, minced (2 tablespoons)
¼ cup chopped fresh dill
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
Juice of 1 lime (1 to 2 tablespoons)
1-teaspoon sea salt
1-teaspoon ground cumin
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Trim the tops off the tomatoes and gently squeeze out the juice and the seeds from the interior cavities. Discard the insides and coarsely chop the tomato flesh into half-inch pieces and place in a large bowl. You should have about 5 cups of chopped tomatoes. Add the sweet peppers, onions, and garlic and set aside.
  2. With a paring knife, trim the tops off the Habanera and the Jalapeno peppers; slice them in half and remove the seeds. (Be careful not to touch your eyes or your face and clean the cutting board, knife, and your hands carefully when done!) Slice and finely mince into very small pieces, adding them to the tomato and sweet pepper.
  3. Add the herbs, juice from the lemon and the lime, salt, and cumin; finally, pour in the maple syrup and soy sauce. Mix together well, taste, and add seasoning. Place salsa in the refrigerator overnight so the flavors can blend. You may need to drain some of the liquid from the salsa that has accumulated overnight. Salsa will keep for up to a week.

I baked the Haddock at 375 for about 20 minutes. It was coated with a mix of:

1 1/2 cups of bread crumbs
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh savory, finely chopped
Salt & Pepper

I roasted the Asparagus as I baked the haddock. The Sauce recipe follows:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • Zest from 1 lemon, about 1 tablespoon
  • Fresh chives, about 1 tablespoon chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 pound asparagus ( 12-16 spears), tough ends snapped off

In a medium bowl, mash together the cheese and yogurt until smooth. Whisk in the lemon zest, chives, cumin and sugar. Season with salt and pepper.

We loved these recipes from Ellen so much so that a few days later I made a version of her Tarragon Chicken Salad with Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing!

Dry January

The final days of January 2021 are upon us.

The final days of Dry January 2021 are upon us.

Pictured here a “Virgin Bloody Mary.” It tastes pretty much like a Bloody Mary, less the vodka, of course.

I bought the Bloody Mary mix (Agalima Organic, The Authentic Bloody Mary Mix) back in October thinking we might have one or two on Thanksgiving and on Christmas. In years past, family traditions included a large pitcher of Bloody Mary mix next to a bottle of vodka on a counter.

Because of Covid there were no family get-togethers and no Bloody Mary mix on a counter next to bottle of vodka.

We never did have a Bloody Mary or two but come Dry January, I enjoyed a Virgin Bloody Mary or two.

The month, Dry January, is really about wellness and it feels fine and healthy to enjoy the month without wine at dinner—or a Bloody Mary! I think we will keep it up. Within reason.

Of course, Dry January is all about living an alcohol free month—not dessert-free.

And we have enjoyed a few spectacular desserts.

Susan made this delicious Berry Cake!

Susan also made Fika, a Swedish chocolate treat!

I made a Banana, Blueberry, Chocolate, Coconut, Walnut Bread which was so good!

And a few days ago, Susan made an outstanding Orange and Chocolate cake!

I haven’t lost much weight but once it warms up outside (It was 2 degrees this morning with a wind-chill of -12!) and I start walking again I am sure the weight will start to disappear and I will get back to my college wrestling weight class.

Cheers!