... one of the reason's The Viking and I put on so much weight this holiday was our addiction to these cheesy little babies... 'grilled cheese' as they call them in the good old US of A but 'croque monsieur' to you and me. I feel a bit of a cheat giving you a recipe for these as they are essentially a 'cheese-toasty', as we called them when I was growing up but then this is a recipe from the great American cookbook How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman and if I learnt anything from my trip to the states it was that they do stuff their way and if you don't like it then don't eat it and go home and do it your own way... just don't bother arguing with them... and whilst the croque monsieur may be a French culinary institution with as many methods to perfection as the humble British scone, the grilled cheese is something altogether different...
...Mr Bittman gives us a mind-boggling plethora of options for the grilled cheese, from the classic Tuna Melt to the oh-so-sweet Grilled Nut Butter and Banana Sandwich... oh yes... but wether you go for wholewheat, sourdough, brioche, buttered, un-buttered, sugar-coated or just plain, the method, as outlined below, is the same... and that's what I love about this mountain of a book, it has ALL the options you could ever think of. This is less of a book that someone at my level of cooking skill reads but rather refers to when stuck for ideas... it's like google in paper form... it ALWAYS has the answer... i'm glad my step-mother Jette had a copy in her kitchen and i'm even happier they sent me a copy for christmas...
this is absolutely and positively NOT on my diet regime which is why i'm not going to be eating this but feeding The Viking with it instead... I feel slightly guilty doing this as I've never considered myself a true 'feeder' but clearly i must be and now that the diet is in full swing I think I may have just upped my game... make the cake... don't eat the cake... feed the cake to neighbour or friend... does this make me evil... well i'm not going to worry too much about it, especially after the ooh's and ahh's coming from the dining table...
2 slices of bread... i'm using a home-made wholemeal loaf but seriously you can use anything... the book recommends something slightly sweet like brioche or challa
A large chunk of grated gruyere cheese
1 egg beaten with a little milk
a chunk of vegetarian parmesan or lincolnshire poacher finely grated
1 teaspoon of english mustard or horseradish sauce
fyi i'm not using slices of ham as this is a veggie version for The Viking... feel free to add it as you see fit
beat the egg and milk with the grated parmesan and mustard then slice 2 nice thick slices of bread
soak the bread slices in the beaten egg mixture until it's all soaked up
place a small, heavy pan on the heat, add a nob of butter with a little olive oil and once melted add one slice of the soaked bread quickly followed by the grated gruyere and then topped with the other slice of soaked bread
lay a plate on top of the sandwich and place 2 or 3 food tins on top to weigh it down - cook for 2 or 3 minutes until the underside is golden brown, then flip the sandwich over, place the plate on top with the tins and cook again for another 2 or 3 minutes
once brown all over, cut in half and eat and of course enjoy immediately!