A mom's journal of the sweet things in her life...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Petit Croque Monsieurs

Happy New Year! Remember me? I'd like to say I've been busy post holidays but I haven't. Not really. Lazy is a word that comes to mind. It should be a verb. I do lazy a lot lately.

Since we're all sick of holiday cookies and cakes, I'm posting a savory appetizer that I made for New Year's Eve. It's true, sometimes I make things without sugar. 

I concocted this little appetizer in my head one night when I was up late watching a movie wherein Meryl Streep made a Croque Monsieur sandwich for Steve Martin. I hate when I watch TV late at night and they eat food that I suddenly must have. Annoyed and very hungry, I became inspired. I googled Croque Monsieur and found a recipe by Ina Garten. Since she does everything right, and I love her food, I felt no need to look any further. I based this on her recipe but I assembled them into bite-size appetizers and instead of a sandwich, I skipped the second piece of bread and made it open-faced.  

They were delicious. Perfect with a glass of white wine while we waited for the kids to go to bed so we could eat dinner. Here's the step by step. 

I used Country Italian bread for the base.
 Cut it with a round cookie cutter
 buttered both sides to ensure it was flavourful and would brown nicely
 and then toasted in the oven at 350 degrees, until it felt firm and crisp. It didn't turn the golden brown I was expecting but it was crispy enough so I pulled it out. This can be done several hours ahead of time and left out at room temperature until you're ready to assemble.
 For the Bechamel sauce, I melted 2 Tablespoons of butter,
 added 3 Tablespoons of flour
 and cooked until golden brown, about 2 or 3 minutes.
Whisk the milk in slowly,
 and cook until thickened.  
 Once thick, remove from heat and add the gruyere and parmesan cheeses. Once melted, add the spices and set aside.
 For the ham, I used a Tuscan Rosemary ham and I cut it with a cookie cutter that was one size smaller than the one I used for the bread. I'm not sure why, it just felt right at the time. Do what you want.
 Spread dijon mustard on the already toasted bread. I'm not a huge fan of mustard and I wasn't sure I'd like it, figuring it might be too strong. So I made some without mustard and was surprised to discover that the ones with the mustard tasted better. 
 Place a slice of ham on the bread with the mustard,
 spread a dollop of the Bechamel sauce on top,
 and then add a healthy sprinkling of grated gruyere.
 Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 2 minutes then turn your broiler on and broil for another minute or two, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly and a golden brown. Watch closely though - they'll burn quickly. You didn't need me to tell you that - it's the mother in me. Sorry.
Remove from oven and try your hardest to allow to cool for a minute before taking a bite. Alternatively, you can go ahead and throw one in your mouth while still bubbling. It will hurt though, don't say I didn't warn you.

Recipe for Croque Monsieur
(adapted from Ina Garten)
Yield: Approximately 40-50 depending on the size

2 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
Dijon mustard
8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut bread into small circular pieces using a cookie cutter. Lightly butter and place on a baking sheet and bake for 5-10  minutes or until slightly crispy. Set aside. (Can be made several hours ahead and stored at room temperature.)

To make the Bechamel:

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, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Lightly brush the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and spread about a generous spoonful of sauce on top. Sprinkle with grated gruyere and bake for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 2 to 3 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot. 


  1. I know the movie! Watched it over the holidays too.

    Great idea for an appetizer. They look delish.

  2. These look so great..they wouldn't last 10 minutes in my house :)

  3. What a great appetizer! I love gruyere and parmesan cheese on anything. Mmmm..yummy! :)

  4. Oh my gosh I have to make these, they look and sound just wonderful......great job Heather, and Happy New Year to you too.
    Love, Tante Clem

  5. oh my goodness--these are brilliant! So happy I found this post! Amazing appetizer...cannot wait to make it! Thanks for posting!!


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