Comfort food for a winter night

Meryl Streep has been co-starring with some fabulous food lately; first it was the chocolate cream pie in Julie & Julia, and more recently the croque monsieur in It’s Complicated. Worth seeing for Meryl’s character’s wonderful kitchen, bakery business, and some gratuitous food scenes alone. Perfect life, except for the romantically “complicated” part. (But as far as I can tell that’s not something any of us can opt out of!) She had a really great apron, too – the one with the leather strings – if anyone knows where to find those, let me know!

So back to the croque monsieur… it makes a simple, yet elegant and decadent dinner for a winter’s night. Here’s a recipe from Ina Garten – as published in her book, Barefoot in Paris and on the Food Network website.

Croque Monsieur and arugula salad

Ina Garten’s Croque Monsieur

Prep Time:
5 min

Cook Time:
25 min

Serves:
4 to 8 servings

Ingredients

* 2 tablespoons unsalted 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

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

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.

To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.

Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, 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, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.

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