Croque-Végétarien & Croque-Monsieur

So, you know how there really wasn't much winter this year?

Its been like, November (but without the rain), all winter long.

We're so spoiled by it...  Because this year, any time it goes below 35 or is rainy, we're all 'ew, gross!  couch!  comfort food!'

Since our honeymoon in Paris was quite rainy and chilly, one of the newer additions to our 'ew, gross! couch! comfort food!' repertoire is the Croque Monsieur.  While in Paris there was more than one night where the sightseeing got in the way of the marathon dinner events that we planned for many of the nights and, as a result, we ended up at Cafe Le Depart-St. Michel more than once...  While it wasnt much more than our equivalent of a 24 hour diner, it was open 24 hours (important to NYers who are used to such things) and close to our hotel(s) to boot, so it worked.  And this cafe's croque végétarien was one of the best I had while we were there...

This version is my favorite of all of the ones I've had since leaving paris (admittedly, there havent been that many, but this one is good, i promise!) and will probably become my new standard, not to mention a regular part of the 'ew, gross! couch! comfort food!' rotation.

Croque Végétarien & Croque-Monsieur
courtesy of me, as adapted from Ina Garten

6 slices good white bread

1 tablespoons unsalted butter
1.5 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 c warm milk

1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg

3 oz Gruyere, grated
3 oz Emmentaler, grated
1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan

Dijon mustard

2 plum tomatoes, sliced

For Croque-Monsieur:
1/4 lb jambon de Paris


Preheat the oven to 400°.

Toast your bread in the oven on a cookie sheet - 5 minutes on the first side, then 2 minutes on the opposite side. Set aside.

In a small saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter and then add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for ~2 minutes.

Slowly pour the warm milk into the pan with the butter/flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened, about 3 - 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and add the salt, pepper, nutmeg and stir.

Add in 1/4 c of the Gruyere, 1/4 c of the Emmentaler and all of the Parmesan and stir until cheese has all melted. Set aside.

Spread dijon mustard on all of the bread.
On half of the bread, lay out tomatoes on a single layer.
If desired, add a couple of slices of ham on top of the tomatoes. (croque monsieur)
Top the same slices with the remaining Gruyere and Emmentaler, about 1/3 of the total cheese on each.
Top each 'loaded' slice with one of the dijon-only pieces of bread.

Top each sandwich with about 1/3 of the bechamel (cheese sauce)

Bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes.

Switch your oven to broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes (depending on how close your heating element is to your sandwiches) or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned.

Serve hot.

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