Tag Archives: béchamel

MUSHROOM PESTO STUFFED ZUCCHINI

This was an experiment that turned out to be tasty but fairly unattractive on the plate. It all came about from another attempt to clear out the refrigerator and use up leftovers.

The zucchini came from the farmers market, again from one of my favorite vendors. We both look forward to having a little conversation in Spanish before my purchases. The conversation is short because of my very limited vocabulary, but we both enjoy it.

Why, you ask, would I ever buy zucchini at the farmers market when the neighbors will soon start bringing over an endless stream of  gargantuan specimens from their garden. Therein lies the answer to your question. The vendor’s zucchini were lined up in rows, uniform in size, perfect size for cooking, and all the same shining green with perfect skin.

I bought enough zucchini to go into a ratatouille with some beautiful eggplants that I got from my other favorite vendor. And, there was enough to stuff a couple for another meal.

Then to the refrigerator and leftovers: pesto from a couple of nights ago, cooked rice, a few leftover crimini mushrooms, a white onion, a sliver of cheddar cheese. I was set. I split the zucchini in half, hollowed them out with a spoon, stuffed them with a mixture of mushrooms, rice, pesto, egg, and some seasonings., topped them with a béchamel enriched with the cheddar cheese, and baked them for a half hour. I should have worked harder to get the water out of the zucchini I added to the stuffing, but otherwise it turned out ok.

RECIPE

Mushroom Pesto Stuffed Zucchini

Ingredients

  • 2 medium zucchini, split in half lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ small white onion, chopped finely
  • 2 medium crimini mushrooms, chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon Pernod
  • salt and pepper
  • ½ cup pesto
  • ½ cup cooked rice
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 ounce cheddar cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. With a spoon or small paring knife, remove the flesh from the zucchini, leaving about a ¼ inch rim and being careful not to pierce the skin.
  2. Chop the zucchini flesh finely. Squeeze out as much excess water as you can using your hands or a fine sieve and spoon. Set aside.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté lightly until the onions are translucent but not browned. Stir in the mushrooms and chopped zucchini flesh. Stir frequently until the mushrooms are lightly browned and the mixture has given up its liquid and nearly completely evaporated. Add the Pernod and stir for just a few seconds until it has evaporated.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl. Stir in the pesto, rice, and egg until well combined.
  5. Fill the hollowed zucchini with the mixture and arrange in a well-greased ovenproof dish.
  6. Meanwhile prepare the sauce by melting the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir for a minute or so to remove raw flavor. Stir in the milk and continue to heat until the mixture comes to a slow boil and has thickened. Stir frequently to prevent burning on the bottom. Sit in the grated cheese. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  7. Pour the sauce over the zucchini and bake in the middle of an oven preheated to 350°F for 30 minutes or until the zucchini are tender and the sauce is melted and lightly browned. Serve while still warm.
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CROQUE MONSIEUR AND CROQUE MADAME

I have been away from my blog for awhile. First, I spent some time with family at Thanksgiving. That was a lot fun. What has not been fun is frustration in uploading my images to Word Press. Over the last several days, I have worked closely with the folks at Word Press. They demonstrated remarkable knowledge and incredible patience. Together, we were unable to solve the problem. Then I changed to an old wireless router I had replaced a while back and everything – well, nearly everything – worked again. Frustration over.

Recently I wrote about baking pain de mie for the express purpose of making croque monsieur and croque madame sandwiches. That is exactly what I did with the bread. If you are a big fan of these sandwiches, you already know that there are many, many recipes  some of them not much more than an American grilled cheese and others very elaborate

There are, however, some absolute essentials: good bread (hence the pain de mie), the best sliced ham you can find, and Gruyère cheese. Of course for the croque madame, you will need a perfectly fried egg.

You can sauté the sandwiches  in a pan, broil them, toast them in a panini press, or use a traditional French sandwich mold that makes them look a bit like a giant madeleine.  Then you have to decide whether or not you want to go to the trouble of making a béchamel to moisten the contents and provide a topping  – with more Gruyère, of course – that can be browned under a broiler.

This, then, is only one version, but it was fun to make. I chose to use the French sandwich press that has been hanging for years on our kitchen wall as a sort of decoration. I also added some béchamel.

RECIPES

Béchamel

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • salt and white pepper

Method

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and then stir in the flour. Cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, to make a light roux. Be careful not to brown.
  2. Stir in the cream and bring to a simmer. Stir until the sauce is thickened. Remove from heat.
  3. Adjust seasoning with slat and white pepper.  Set aside.

Croque monsieur

Ingredients

  • 4 slices pain de mie
  • 4 tablespoons béchamel
  • 4 thin slices ham
  • 2 slices Gruyère
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • béchamel
  • sliced Gruyère

Method

  1. Spread béchamel on one side of each slice of bread
  2. Arrange one slice of ham on each slice of bread. Then place a slice of Gruyère on two of the slices. Form into two sandwiches.
  3. With a pastry brush, paint both sides of both sandwiches with the melted butter and arrange the sandwiches in the sandwich mold.
  4. Close the sandwich mold and heat over an open flame on your range, turning once or twice until the sandwiches are well-toasted on both sides.
  5. Place the finished sandwiches on oven-proof plates, top with more béchamel and Gruyère, and place briefly under a broiler until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is lightly browned. Serve immediately.

Croque madame

Ingredients

  • 1 croque monsieur sandwich
  • 1 fried egg

Method

  1. Top the sandwich with the fried egg.
  2. Serve immediately

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