Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I can't believe the French stay so slim...

I have been on a journey from green tomatoes to croque monsieur - this is the how I got there...

This year I have been growing tomatoes however unlike my sisters, mine are still green. I vaguely remembered the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes" and thought "there must be something you can do with the greenies". My trusty friend Google gave me lots of ideas but I settled on a chutney. Apparently mixing red with green and adding sugar does the trick to add back some of the sweetness of rich red sun ripened tomatoes. Now, as usual I looked at a few recipes for inspiration but true to course, ended up just experimenting and creating.

This is what I came up with...Fiery red and green chutney

You will need
Approximately 2kg - red and green tomatoes
2 onions
250grams brown sugar
10 jalapeno peppers
250mls vinegar - I used a mixture of what I had - balsamic, red wine and white vinegar
Mustard seeds - optional
Raisins - optional

Roughly chop up the onions and tomatoes, add everything to a pan and simmer until it has reduced by about half. I ended up putting it in the food processor to make it less chunky and actually returned it to the pan and reduced it a wee bit more.
If preserving - put into sterilized jars and seal.
Enjoy hot or cold.

Now I wondered what to use it for and how to make an interesting post and picture. I also had to contemplate what was actually in my fridge on a Sunday evening - not much! 

I was thinking about cheese and crackers topped with chutney and voila - croque monsieur jumped out at me. I have eaten this delicious snack a few times and never actually contemplated how decadent it actually is. 

Here is my version, equally decadent with a fiery twist. 
Bon Appetite 

You will need
2 slices of bread
2 tablespoons flour
About 1 cup milk
About 1 cup cheese (what ever you have but tasty or nutty works well) 
1 teaspoon mustard - either wholegrain or Dijon 
About 2-4 ham slices 

Melt about 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan, add the flour and cook a minute or so. 
Gradually add the milk to make a smooth sauce (you may need to take it off the heat) 
Add mustard and grated cheese
(Aim to make the sauce thicker than a regular cheese sauce)

Butter the bread and place one slice butter side down in a pan or toasted sandwich maker.
Add the ham and a good dollop of the cheese sauce.
Place the other slice of bread on top (butter side up) and either put the lid on the toasted sandwich maker or turn over in the frying pan. 

The final touch to the top of the sandwich is yet more cheese sauce mixed with a spoonful of tangy and spicy chutney. Grill this until brown and bubbly.

Enjoy hot with more chutney to compliment the cheesy sauce. 
How the French stay thin, I have no idea! 


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