The croque madame is a quintessential dish in the French culinary canon. Essentially a ham and cheese sandwich, this beauty is elevated by two generous layers of creamy béchamel, broiled until bubbly and golden, and topped with a perfectly fried egg. With a little help from our friends at Le Creuset, we’ve used both their new recipe book and their bakeware to put together a perfect brunch dish.
We’ve mentioned before in the blog that there are certain kitchen items that we can’t do without. We just can’t, we’d be lost and flailing. A microplane for fine grating, a silicone spatula for mixing cake batter: these critical objects are non-negotiable. Another, of course, is a good, heavy, enameled cast iron skillet. You can pre-heat it on the stove to get it to a high temperature for quick cooking, you can transfer it to an oven or broiler for a finishing step, and if you take care of it, it will last forever. Also, if you choose well, it can be beautiful enough to be the centerpiece on your table.
We’re always keen to find new ways of using our pan, and when Le Creuset asked us to make a recipe from their new cookbook (which you can buy from their site through the link) our decision wasn’t hard: we wanted to make our favorite Parisian lunch, croque madame.
We put the must in mustard, the cute in charcuterie, and the jam in …er … jam, with this spectacular picnic spread. Ham! Cheese! Pâté! Salami! Pickles! Our festive charcuterie board is topped off with fresh, tangy home-made Maple Mustard and sweet Red Onion Jam.
This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Les Trois Petits Cochons. Thank you for supporting Nerds with Knives’ partners!
There’s something about a picnic that pulls at the heartstrings. As a concept, it’s hard to beat – put tasty snacks into a bag? Carry the bag into a field, perhaps by a lake? Lie down on a blanket and eat the snacks and look at the view and drink wine? WHAT IS BETTER THAN THAT. (Nothing. Nothing is better than that.) And its alliterative name, like odds and sods, and bits and bobs, suggests that really, you can take any collection of tasty foods and a cold bottle of something delicious, and you can’t go too far wrong. (Just make sure you have home-made Scotch eggs on your charcuterie board. Seriously.) Then, a few years ago, we had a holiday in France, and realized that the French really have this whole picnic idea down.
If you like mustard, you seriously have to try making your own. It’s so much better than the jarred kind and it couldn’t be easier. Our Homemade Maple Mustard is a little sweet, a little spicy and tastes incredibly fresh.
Yeah, I get it. The idea of homemade mustard is just a little bit precious. Bordering on the dreaded ‘artisanal’ label that plagues lovers of real, unpretentious food … but hear me out because this stuff is awesome and I really, really want you to make it.
The truth is, I think most things taste better homemade. Sure, jarred mustard can be good and I use it most of the time but for something really special (like a crazy-beautiful charcuterie board or a holiday ham), why not serve it with a condiment as special as the main dish? We knew we wanted to make Red Onion Jam with Wine, Honey and Thyme but we also wanted something spicy that would be good with charcuterie. And besides, I think there’s something cool and homesteader-ey about making something so inherently useful.
In our ongoing quest to resurrect interest in under-appreciated vegetables, I present this week’s subject: the leek.
We don’t get too excited about leeks in the U.S. but we should. They’re healthy, easy to grow*, cheap to buy, and best of all, really tasty.
* Theoretically, and according to rumors I read on the internet. Matt and I, conversely, have zero luck growing leeks. Nada. Zilch. They sprout beautifully but then … nothing. They turn spindly and never really get very big. They end up more like thick scallions. It’s quite rude of them if you think about it, because here I am telling the world (our 5 readers, anyway, hello there *waves*) how great leeks are and they can’t even be bothered to make an effort in the garden. Oh well. It’s broccoli rabe this year, I’m telling you.
I’m totally the type of person who, if it were socially acceptable, would outfit everything in my house with ‘the clapper’. In fact, if someone invented one that cooked dinner and made cocktails, I’d be flamenco-ing myself silly.
What I’m saying is, I don’t really like to make extra work for myself.
Even though I obviously enjoy cooking, I’ve never been tempted to make my own ketchup. Heinz already rocks that market. Make my own Worcestershire sauce? Um… no thanks. Mayonnaise? That’s another story.