Kitchen Adventures: Fancy French sandwich with cauliflower mash

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By Becca Owsley

In the summer there’s nothing better than a sandwich with some fresh veggies on the side. It might be one of my favorite summertime meals.

I like to try different kinds of sandwiches and Croque Monsieurs sounded a little fancy so I gave them a shot. The sandwich takes a little longer to make than slapping some meat and cheese on two slices of bread, but it’s worth it.

This recipe is a twist on traditional French sandwiches often found in French cafès.

The crustless sandwich typically is served hot and smothered in bèchamel or white sauce.

Because this recipe calls for adding cheese to the sauce, I’m guessing it might be more of a mornay than a béchamel sauce.

The main problem I ran into was the cheese. I could not find Gruyere at the grocery when I was shopping for ingredients. Because Gruyere is a cheese from Switzerland I substituted grated Swiss cheese. Swiss cheese also compliments ham well so it did the trick, it just didn’t feel as fancy.

Cheese is one of my favorite foods on the planet and I’m sure if you can find Gruyere this sandwich would taste even better.

Anytime you have ham and cheese melted in a croissant and smothered in a cheesy cream sauce, you have the makings of a great sandwich.

Traditional Croque Monsieurs use sliced fresh baked bread instead of croissants which might toast more evenly. Because the raised portions of the croissants browned quicker than other parts of the bread, the cheese and bread did not brown evenly.

The blogger who posted this recipe adapted it from one she found from the Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. Garten’s recipe used white sandwich bread.

Because the sandwich was smothered and covered in cheese I decided to try for a healthier side dish, mashed cauliflower. It was suggested as a healthy alternative to mashed potatoes.

While the recipe resulted in tasty mashed cauliflower there’s no way someone could pass them off as mashed potatoes.

In fact, while I was eating them my mind was thinking mashed potatoes and my taste buds were shocked by the taste of cauliflower.

Also note that the recipe only makes enough for two or three servings.

The dish doesn’t stay warm long so I advise making it right before time to serve. Adding pices, butter or cheese might add to the taste but probably would add to the calories, too.

Croque Monsieurs

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 cheese

8 croissants


8 ounces honey ham, sliced but not paper thin

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Melt butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for two minutes. Slowly pour hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Remove from heat and add salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere and the Parmesan cheese. Set aside.

Halve and toast croissants. Place the slices on two baking sheets and bake for 4 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes until toasted.

Lightly brush half of each croissant 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 cheese sauce, sprinkle with remaining Gruyere and bake the sandwiches for five minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for three to five minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.

SOURCE: www.savuryandsweet.com, adapted from the Barefoot Contessa


Mashed Cauliflower

1 head of cauliflower or 1 bag of chopped and washed cauliflower

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper


If using a head of cauliflower, chop and wash.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add cauliflower and cook about 10 minutes, until tender.

Save about 1/4 cup of cooking liquid and drain remaining water.

Return cauliflower to pot and mash with potato masher. Add oil. Add cooking liquid one tablespoon at a time.

Season with salt, pepper and chives.

SOURCE: www.supperforasteal.com

Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.