Croque Monsieur

Croque Monsieur | Pinky's Pantry
I found out that today is National Sandwich Day. Who knew we had a day dedicated to sandwiches? I love sandwiches. They’re the easiest thing to pack for lunch, they’re adorable cut into dainty little shapes for tea, and our family road trips just wouldn’t be the same without a cooler of sandwiches and drinks in the trunk of the car.

It’s commonly believed that the sandwich was the invention of John Montagu who was the 4th Earl of Sandwich in England. I can’t vouch for the truth of that, but the story goes that Lord Sandwich was a notorious gambler. They say he spent long hours at the gaming tables and rather than get up to eat, he would ask the servants to bring him some sliced meat between two pieces of bread so he could hold the food in one hand and keep his cards in the other. His friends embraced the custom and when they got hungry, they would ask for “the same as Sandwich” and that’s how the sandwich got its auspicious beginnings.

Anyway, in deference to National Sandwich Day, I decided to make Croque Monsieur for dinner tonight. Croque Monsieur is typical French bistro fare. Fancy as its name is, it’s basically just a grilled ham and cheese sandwich topped with béchamel sauce and more cheese. It’s delicious served all hot and melty with a glass of wine or an ice cold beer. If you top a Croque Monsieur with a fried egg, you’ll have what’s called a Croque Madame. But that’s for another post.

CROQUE MONSIEUR
(Makes 6 sandwiches)

  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 12 slices firm white sandwich bread
  • room temperature butter for spreading on the bread slices
  • 1 jar dijon mustard
  • 6 ozs. thinly sliced Black Forest ham or Virginia ham
  • 8-10 ozs. Gruyère cheese (can substitute Emmental, Comté, or Swiss cheese)
  1. Slice enough Gruyere to make 6 sandwiches (6 or 7 ozs.) and grate the rest to use for topping. Set cheese aside.
  2. Make béchamel sauce by melting 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat in a small saucepan.
  3. Add flour, whisking until well combined.
  4. Gradually whisk in milk, parmesan cheese, and nutmeg.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Cook until sauce thickens, whisking constantly, about 2 minutes.
  7. Set béchamel aside and preheat broiler to high. You’ll broil the sandwiches later.
  8. Butter one side of all 12 slices of bread.
  9. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat on the stove.
  10. Place 3 of the bread slices, butter side down, in the skillet.
  11. Brush some mustard on top of each slice of bread in the skillet.
  12. Top each with a slice of ham and a slice of Gruyère.
  13. Cover sandwiches with 3 slices of bread, butter side up.
  14. Cook until deep golden brown, then carefully flip over and cook other side.
  15. Transfer to a baking sheet and repeat with remaining bread.
  16. Spoon béchamel sauce over each sandwich.
  17. Sprinkle a little grated Gruyère over béchamel.
  18. Place under broiler until cheese is melted and light brown.
  19. Serve hot.
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Italian Beef Sandwiches with Coleslaw

Italian Beef Sandwich | Pinky's Pantry
It’s Super Bowl Sunday again. I saw Valerie Bertinelli make Italian Beef sandwiches on TV last week and decided that that’s what I wanted to do for our Super Bowl Sunday lunch. She made her sandwiches with a giardiniera aioli but I don’t particularly care for giardiniera. At least not the ones I’ve tried so far. I do think these sandwiches would be great with a garlic aioli though.

One thing she did do was serve her sandwiches with coleslaw and that was definitely the way to go as far as I’m concerned. Delicious! The coleslaw added a sweet crunch to the tender, savory beef that made it the perfect well-rounded meal.

ITALIAN BEEF SANDWICHES WITH COLESLAW

Make Italian Beef the Night Before:

Italian Beef | Pinky's Pantry

  • 4 lbs. boneless beef chuck or rump roast, cut into large chunks
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 can (15 ozs.) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 packet Italian salad dressing mix
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  1. Combine all ingredients together in slow cooker.
  2. Cook on low setting for 10-14 hours.
  3. Skim some of the excess fat from the surface using a ladle or cooking spoon.
  4. Shred the beef coarsely with two forks.

Assemble Sandwiches:

  • 4 loaves (12-14 inches each) Italian or French bread
  • Italian Beef, warm or at room temperature
  • coleslaw, ready-made or make your own (recipe here)
  1. Cut each loaf of bread into 4 to 6-inch lengths depending on how big you want your sandwiches.
  2. Split each sandwich in half lengthwise and toast lightly.
  3. Fill sandwiches with the shredded beef.
  4. Top beef with coleslaw.

NOTE:  Serve sliced pepperoncinis on the side for those who might want them.
You can also top the beef with a slice of mozzarella or provolone cheese before piling on the coleslaw, if desired.

Filipino Hamburgers

Filipino Hamburger | Pinky's Pantry
Hamburger sandwiches are not native to the Philippines. That being said, hamburger joints abound everywhere and we ate burgers all the time growing up. But when it came to making burgers at home, unlike American burgers which are usually plain meat patties simply seasoned with salt and pepper, our cook would add all kinds of stuff to our burgers and boy were they good! Give this recipe a try and you’ll see what I mean.

FILIPINO HAMBURGERS

  • ½ lb. lean ground beef
  • ½ lb. ground pork
  • ½ small onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 4 hamburger buns, split and toasted
  • condiments:  mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard
  • toppings:  cheese, lettuce leaves, tomato, onion, pickles
  1. In a bowl, combine beef, pork, onion, bread crumbs, milk, egg, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.
  2. Divide meat mixture into four balls and flatten into patties.
  3. Grill or fry until burgers reach desired doneness.
  4. Serve on toasted hamburger buns, with condiments and toppings on the side for people to build their own burgers.

NOTE:  If you want, you can make your burger patties with a pound of pure beef and leave out the ground pork. Our cook always used a mixture of half beef and half pork, but that was probably because beef was more expensive in the Philippines.

Pork Meatball Banh Mi

Pork Meatball Banh Mi | Pinky's Pantry
In Vietnam, the term banh mi usually refers to bread, in particular the baguette which was introduced into Vietnamese cuisine by the French during the colonial period. Mini-baguettes are very popular and can be found everywhere in Vietnam. They’re typically used for Banh Mi sandwiches which are filled with all sorts of fillings, from pork to vegetables to eggs, and which are eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

I came across this amazing recipe in Bon Appétit magazine several years ago. OMG, is it good! It embodies that wonderful Asian flavor combination of spicy, sweet, sour, and salty. It has a few components to it so may seem a bit complicated, but the nice part is that much of it can be made ahead of time. Trust me, it’s well worth the time and effort it takes to prepare. The original recipe called for frying the meatballs but I bake mine, partly because baking them is healthier, but mostly because there’s less of a mess to clean up afterwards and that’s always a good thing in my book!Pork Meatball Banh Mi | Pinky's Pantry

PORK MEATBALL BANH MI

Hot Chili Mayo:

  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha or other hot chili sauce
  1. Stir all ingredients together in small bowl.
  2. Season with salt if desired.

NOTE:  Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill in refrigerator.

Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha or other hot chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Line rimmed baking sheet with tin foil.
  2. Gently mix all ingredients together in large bowl.
  3. Moisten hands with water and roll meat mixture into 1½-inch meatballs.
  4. Arrange on baking sheet.

NOTE:  Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover meatballs and chill in refrigerator.

Daikon Salad:

  • 2 cups coarsely grated carrots
  • 2 cups coarsely grated peeled daikon (Japanese white radish)
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar (seasoned works too if that’s all you have)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Toss all ingredients together in medium bowl.
  2. Let stand at room temperature at least 1 hour, tossing occasionally.

Sandwiches:

  • Asian sesame oil for brushing meatballs
  • 4 mini-baguette loaves
  • thinly sliced jalapeño chiles
  • fresh cilantro leaves
  1. If refrigerated, bring meatballs to room temperature before baking.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. Lightly brush meatballs with sesame oil. It is not necessary to turn them over.
  4. Bake meatballs for 25 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
  5. Cut each baguette horizontally in half.
  6. Spread hot chili mayo over each bread half.
  7. Drain pickled vegetables and lay a little on bottom halves of bread.
  8. Top each with 1/4 of meatballs.
  9. Arrange jalapeños, then cilantro, on top of meatballs.
  10. Cover with bread tops, pressing down to hold filling in place.

NOTE:  You can make Banh Mi Sliders for a great appetizer or a light meal, too. Just make the meatballs a little bit bigger and then flatten them into patties. Use dinner rolls or little buns in place of the baguette rolls. They’re always a crowd pleaser!
Banh Mi Sliders | Pinky's Pantry

Ham and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich Casserole

Ham and Swiss Breakfast Casserole | Pinky's Pantry
One of the nurses at work gave me this recipe several years ago and it fast became a favorite in our family! It’s different from the usual breakfast casserole because you make little mini ham and cheese sandwiches and then turn them into a yummy casserole dish. I love Hawaiian rolls, too, which is what you use to make the little sandwiches. You’ve got to give this recipe a try! It’s super easy to do and is a great dish to take to potlucks and family gatherings. I know it’ll become a favorite with your family, too!
Ham and Swiss Breakfast Casserole | Pinky's Pantry
Ham and Swiss Breakfast Casserole | Pinky's Pantry

HAM AND CHEESE BREAKFAST SANDWICH CASSEROLE

  • 2 pkgs. Kings Hawaiian rolls (12 rolls to a pack)
  • 1 lb. shaved ham
  • 1 lb. swiss cheese (can substitute provolone, mozzarella, or other white cheese)
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 2 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp. dried onions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13-inch pyrex glass baking dish.
  2. Cut all the rolls in half and place the bottom halves into the prepared baking dish.
  3. Top the bottoms of the rolls with ham, then the cheese.
  4. Place the top halves of the rolls onto the sandwiches.
  5. Cover pyrex dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  6. While sandwiches are baking, make sauce by melting together the butter, dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce, and dried onions in a bowl in the microwave.
  7. Take casserole from oven and remove foil.
  8. Pour sauce evenly all over the sandwiches.
  9. Return to oven and bake uncovered another 5-8 minutes.