Drinking morning coffee on the balcony while on vacation watching the sun rise out of the Atlantic ocean eventually burning through the clouds on the horizon I was suddenly inspired to make croque monsieur for breakfast.
What I came up with was a variation on the theme of French ham sandwich called "Croque monsieur". Last time we visited Paris and stopped at any bar for an afternoon "coupe de Champagne", we often had "Croque monsieur" as a snack (in fact that seemed to be the only thing on offer for an afternoon snack or a snack at any other time at the bars). The ones we had in Paris were similar to what I made here but most of the recipes I looked at are double decker ham and cheese sandwiches. Mine was an single layer open-faced sandwich. I served this with slices of pan fried zucchini.
Ingredients for 4 slices of bread.
Onion: finely diced, (half, medium)
Flour: 2 tbs
Butter: 2 tsp
Oilve oil: 2 tbs (or 2 tbs of butter)
Milk: 1 cup
Nutmeg, ground, to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
The béchamel sauce was my usual relatively low-fat version. I sautéed the onion in a butter-olive oil mixture until the onion was cooked but not browned (3-4 minutes on medium-low heat). I then added the flour and kept stirring until the raw flour was all gone and the onion pieces were coated with flour. I added the cold milk at once and kept stirring until thickened. I added the seasoning.
Ham: I just used a good packaged ham cut into strips (4-5 slices, amount arbitrary) and, for good measure, some salami also cut into strips (optional).
Cheeses: Although Gruyere is the best cheese to use, I did not have it so I used a half and half mixture of aged cheddar and Jarlsberg (amount arbitrary), cut into small cubes (or grated).
Bread: Any good sliced bread will do but I used a bread labeled as "Italian Artisan Bead", 4 slices, lightly toasted.
After the ham and cheeses were mixed into the béchamel and the cheese melted, I spread the mixture on the bread and placed it under the broiler until it bubbled and brown spots appeared. I let it cool down a bit and served.
The bread crust got a bit hard but overall, this was quite good and gave our breakfast another interesting variation.