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"To read a book about a country's cuisine isn't simply to go looking for 'good things'; it is also to better know - by means of the recipes - the customs and the richness or poverty of a place, and the spirit of those who inhabit it. It is above all, to participate in the symbolic celebration of the shared repast."

~ Ginette Olivesi-Lorenzi, La Cuisine Mentonnaise



Savoring Tuscany : Recipes and Reflections on Tuscan Cooking

Savoring Tuscany : Recipes and Reflections on Tuscan Cooking (The Savoring Series)
by Lori De Mori

Part of the Savoring Series, which is one of my favorite series of books about Regional Cuisine, Savoring Tuscany is a beautiful book filled with sumptuous recipes and delectable writing about the cuisine and culture of Tuscany. As with all the books in the series, Savoring Tuscany is put together beautifully and all of the recipes are well written and presented. The recipes that we tested were all superb and the book is an excellent source for fans of Tuscan cuisine.


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Recipe - Croque Monsieur
by Wen Zientek-Sico

What makes these ham and cheese sandwiches with a funny name so special? I guess it just has to be the type of ham and cheese you use or the opportunity to adopt a funny fake French accent. There are almost as many different variations of this recipe as there are cafes in Paris, so feel free to work with the recipe as you see fit.

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Croque Monsieur

What makes these ham and cheese sandwiches with a funny name so special? I guess it just has to be the type of ham and cheese you use or the opportunity to adopt a funny fake French accent. There are almost as many different variations of this recipe as there are cafes in Paris, so feel free to work with the recipe as you see fit. Some variations use a Bechamel sauce on the sandwich and others add interesting ingredients like sliced pears or apples…but here is the basic recipe. A simple lunch or dinner sandwich, these also make great appetizers when cut into small triangles.

1/4 cup softened butter, divided
2 tablespoons grainy mustard or Dijon mustard
12 thin slices white sandwich bread
6 ounces thinly sliced high quality ham
6 ounces thinly sliced Gruyere cheese

Mix 2 tablespoons of the butter with the mustard in a small bowl. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Spread one side of a slice of bread with the butter and place it butter side down on your work surface. Spread the top of the bread with the mustard-butter mixture. Add 2 slices of ham and 2 slices of gruyere. Spread another slice of bread with the mustard-butter mixture and place mustard-butter side down on top of the ham and gruyere. Spread the top of the bread with the mustard-butter mixture. Add 2 slices of ham and 2 slices of gruyere. Spread another slice of bread with the mustard-butter mixture and place mustard-butter side down on top of the ham and gruyere. Spread the top of the bread with butter. Use the remaining ingredients to make 3 more sandwiches. Cook the sandwiches in the hot skillet for about two minutes on each side, or until golden brown and hot. Serve hot.

Makes 4 sandwiches.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes