RECIPE: Simple Croque Monsieur

croque

If you ever travel to France, one of the most common items you will see on a cafe menu is the croque monsieur. This delicious toasted snack is basically a cheese and ham toastie which a French twist. It is a great way of using leftover ham and is a cheap and easy option for lunch. Here is a simple version of how to make croque monsieur for four people. 

Ingredients for Croque Monsieur

  • 8 slices bread
  • 4 slices ham
  • 6 oz/ 160 g Gruyere cheese
  • 3 0z/ 80 g butter
  • 4 tsp Dijon mustard

How to Make Croque Monsieur

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/ 180C/ 350F.
  2. Spread half a teaspoon of the mustard on four of the slices of bread.
  3. Take half of the cheese and sprinkle over these four slices of bread.
  4. Add a slice of ham over the cheese.
  5. Cover the ham with most of the remaining cheese (just leave a little for the top).
  6. Top with the four slices of bread which do not have mustard spread on them.
  7. Heat the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat.
  8. Fry the sandwiches for two minutes on each side or until golden brown. 
  9. Transfer the sandwiches to a baking tray and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.
  10. Cook for five minutes in the oven until the cheese is melted.
  11. Remove from the oven, cut diagonally and serve. 

TIPS

If you do not have Gruyere cheese, you can use an alternative such as Cheddar. 

 

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5 of the Best Varieties of French Cheese

Image result for french cheese

France is famous for many things including its wine production, the Eiffel tower and its beautiful countryside.  However, it is also famous for its diverse production of cheeses.  In fact, France produces over four hundred different cheeses which are generally categorised into eight different groups.  To review all the cheeses that are produced in France would require extensive knowledge, research and time.  However, here is a summary of five of the most famous and delicious varieties of cheese that are produced in France and enjoyed around the world.

Brie

brie

This is a soft cheese made from cow’s milk that is generally produced in the Île-de-France region, specifically Brie after which it is named.  The cheese is encased in a soft dough crust and has a creamy and smooth consistency and flavour.  Variations of this cheese are Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun.  Brie is made in large, round discs and the buyer will normally purchase just a slice of this.

Camembert

camembert

Another soft cheese that is most associated with the Normandy region of France, also from cow’s milk.  Similarly to Brie, the cheese is encased in a soft, edible crust and has a smooth and creamy taste and texture.  In contrast to Brie, Camembert is ripened in smaller cases which give it a slightly different flavour and it is often sold still in its small, wooden casings.

Munster

munster

This is a strong flavoured soft cheese that was named after the town in which it was originally produced.  This cheese was also originally conserved and preserved in monk’s cellars.  There are also several different variations of this cheese which are produced industrially oversees, some of which have a milder flavour.

Roquefort

Roquefort_Cheese_Grenoble

The thing that makes this cheese unique is that it is produced from sheep’s milk and is linked to the Midi-Pyrenees region of France.  This is one of the world’s best known blue cheeses, alongside stilton and Gorgonzola.  Although it is referred to as a blue cheese, the veins of mould which run through it are actually green.  Roquefort can be described as being crumbly and moist, with a slightly tangy and salty flavour.  In English, this cheese is sometimes spelled as Rochefort.

Langres 

langres

Langres is a cheese made from cow’s milk in the Champagne region of France. It is a brine-coated cheese that is creamy and oozing in the centre. This makes it perfect for mopping up with chunks of fresh bread. It has quite a strong aroma but is certainly not in the league of ‘smelly feet’ cheese. 

REVIEW: Cafe Rouge, York

cafe rouge

I recently booked a night away in York with my partner and without our children. One of the things I was looking forward to the most was our evening meal as I had been told the options for eating out were excellent and there are many outstanding restaurants in York. Having never visited this city before, I wanted to take my time choosing where to eat so we took a stroll through the city centre reading menus as we went along and looking into the restaurants trying to find somewhere with a good atmosphere. We finally returned almost to the beginning of our trek to eat at one of the first restaurants we had seen- Cafe Rouge.

The Venue

A French bistro called Cafe Rouge at The Adams House, 52 Lower Petergate, Low Petergate, York YO1 7HZ

Ambience

One of the reasons we choose this restaurant was because there were plenty of others eating there. We had walked past many restaurants that were large and almost empty. This was not the ambiance we were looking for to enjoy a romantic meal. Cafe Rouge was welcoming and warm, which was just what we needed on a cold January night. There was a mix of couples and families ranging in age, so we felt this would be a comfortable place to eat.

Starters

I opted for the breaded camembert which was served with a cranberry and redcurrant sauce. The melted cheese was delicious and my only complaint was that there wasn’t enough of the tangy sauce. My partner opted for an unusual starter which is something he had never tried before. Eggs meurette is a poached egg served with a red wine, bacon, and mushroom sauce and accompanied by chargrilled sourdough bread. He said it made a nice change from the usual starters he orders.

Main Courses

Rather unpredictably, we both ordered the 8oz sirloin steak, his cooked rare and mine cooked medium. These were served with frites and we paid extra for a peppercorn sauce each and a house salad. The steaks were cooked to perfection and were exceptionally tender. The sauce, although not much of it, had just the right amount of kick and was not too creamy as is the case with many peppercorn sauces. My one very minor complaint was that the house salad we ordered as a side dish to share was tiny and basically consisted of a quartered tomato with a few green leaves drizzled with sauce. 

Desserts

I didn’t really have room for a dessert but as this was a special treat, I decided to have one. We had looked at the set menu when we had arrived and the desserts looked delicious. However, we had decided to order off the main menu. When we asked for a dessert menu, it consisted of completely different desserts from the set menu. My partner called the waiter and asked if we could choose a dessert from the set menu and he reassured us that this was fine. We both opted for the chocolate torte served with a vanilla creme fraiche. It was absolutely divine! 

Service

Our waiter was called Raffa (apologies if the spelling of his name is incorrect!) and he was welcoming and courteous as soon as we arrived. He even put two tables together as we had ordered side dishes so we would have more room for our food. He was attentive when needed but disappeared when we were enjoying our meals and conversation. He was especially accommodating with regards to our request about the dessert menu. At the end of the meal, we were asking him about the area and for recommendations of places to enjoy a drink where there was a good atmosphere. He was very chatty and helpful. 

Cost

The prices at Cafe Rouge were a little more than I am usually willing to pay, but this was a special treat. If you look at the online menu there are no prices on it and there is a reason for this, I suspect. The cost of a very average bottle of cabernet sauvignon was £22 before we even started on the food. However, looking at other venues in York, it is quite a pricey place to eat out no matter which venue you choose. The total cost of the meal came to just short of £92 for the two of use. Was it worth the cost? Just about!

Overall Rating

four stars

Overall, I would give Cafe Rouge in York a four out of five-star rating. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and there was a great atmosphere. There were just a few minor points that let it down, such as the cost, the tiny side salad and the lack of sauce. Other than that, I would highly recommend this restaurant.