Bug and I are alone this week - Adam is on a business trip in California. Emotions always run high when he's gone, as Bug and I are both Cancers. Those of you who love astrology will understand: there's lots of tears, raised voices, hugs, and love while he's gone. Adam is a Taurus - heaven knows, Bug and I need his steady ways to temper our passion.
Anyway (can you tell I had a day?), menu planning is always a challenge when he's gone because I don't have him around to run interference with Bug while I cook. So I want to cook things that are still the same...um...caliber that I'm used to, and yet are still super short on time and effort.
Yesterday doesn't quite count, as it was Sunday and I had a full hour to cook. I made Ina Garten's Croque Monsieur:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup hot milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces Gruyere, grated (3 cups)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
6 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
4 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin
Preheat the broiler.
Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/4 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.
To toast the bread, place the slices on a baking sheet and broil for2 minutes. Turn each slice and broil for another 2 minutes. Keep a close eye on the bread to make sure it doesn't burn!
Brush half the toasted breads with mustard (to taste), add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce (some will likely run off the sandwiches, which is fine), sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and broil the sandwiches for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot. (Serves 2-3)
This is one of my standbys, as it doesn't require all that much effort, it's child-friendly, and it's decadent. For Bug's sandwich, I leave out the mustard and, instead of a green salad, she got a sliced plum. Voila!
Notice that I made a note in the margin: "Don't cook in summer - stove heats up house too much!" My kitchen has no A/C and a window that, mysteriously, gets absolutely no air flow. Luckily, yesterday was a rather cool day in NYC so we were able to make this.
That was last night but, tonight, I did "Kid Dinner", which means I made her a hot dog (all gourmet-y from Dickson's Farmstand Meats, of course), a sliced plum, and leftover mariquitas from Cabana (our dinner on Saturday night). I could give myself a bad mom award for that dinner...but I won't. Not this week.