Croque Monsieur frittata

Croque Monsieur (or Madame?) frittata

Croque Monsieur is a French bistro classic. This is a sandwich made with ham and cheese (often Gruyere) that is topped with Béchamel sauce. I have already made a ham and Gruyere frittata, so I thought why not top it with some Béchamel sauce to make a Croque Monsiuer frittata? It may seem unusual to top a frittata with the sauce. But after all, how unusual is it to top a sandwich with the sauce?

A note about my ambiguity regarding the name. A variant of the Croque Monsieur has a fried egg added on top. This is called a Croque Madame. This frittata doesn’t have a fried egg, but given this is a frittata, the ham and cheese are inside of the egg. So maybe it should be called a Croque Madame frittata. I’ll leave the choice up to you.

Croque Monsieur (or Madame?) frittata

1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup hot milk
2 tablespoons grated Gruyere cheese
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
dash of white pepper
dash of nutmeg

3/4 cup ham cut into small pieces
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese

3 eggs
oil

grated Gruyere cheese to sprinkle on top

I make the Béchamel sauce first because I don’t seem to have quite enough time while the frittata is cooking on the stove. If you’re quicker, you could do it after you start cooking the frittata. But the finished sauce holds fine while the frittata is cooking.

To make Béchamel sauce, put the butter and flour in a small saucepan over fairly low heat. Stir the flour in as the butter melts and continue to cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the hot milk, whisking everything together. Place back on the stove, raise the heat to get the sauce bubbling, and cook to thicken, continuing to stir with the whisk or a wooden spoon. This will take about a minute or so. Add the cheese, mustard, pepper, and nutmeg. Continue heating and stirring for a minute to get the cheese melted and mixed through.

Put the eggs into a good-sized mixing bowl and beat just to mix them up. Add a bit of oil to the pan and let it get hot. Add a small amount of egg mixture to the pan to set the bottom of the frittata to prevent sticking. Turn the heat down to medium low. Mix the ham and Gruyere cheese into the eggs and pour the mixture into the pan. (It will help to add the ham a few pieces at a time, as the pieces can stick together.) Cook this for about 5 minutes to set the bottom and sides.

Preheat the broiler. When the 5 minutes cooking on the stove are up, spoon the (thick) Béchamel sauce over the top of the frittata. You want to distribute the sauce over the top, but there is no need to spread the spoonfuls of sauce out to make sure the entire top is covered. As the sauce heats under the broiler, it will soften and spread out evenly by itself. Sprinkle on the additional Gruyere. Place the pan under the broiler, about 6 to 7 inches below. Cook until the top just starts to brown. This is about 1–1/2 to 2 minutes for me, but watch closely.

Remove from the broiler, loosen up the sides with a spatula if necessary, and slide the frittata out onto the serving plate.

Chicken adobo salad

Chicken adobo salad

Chicken adobo is often called the national dish of the Phillipines. The chicken is cooked with soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic. I thought this would be good for a salad.

The first recipe I found when looking for ideas online said that a distinctive aspect of adobo chicken is that the chicken is cooked in the liquid first and then browned at the end. This is just the opposite of many dishes such as chicken fricasee and coq au vin where the chicken is browned first. But other recipes did have you browning the chicken first, and still others didn’t brown at all. I decided to cook in the liquid and then finish with a quick browning under the broiler.

Then came the the question of what to do with the rest of the salad. I know nothing about Filipino cuisine, so back to Google for ideas. I found recipes for just about any kind of salad, many using familiar ingredients. I saw several recipes that combined cucumbers and carrots, both in a straight cucumber salad (with red onions) and in a slaw, with cabbage. I thought these would go well.

Vinegar is a primary ingredient for the dressings for some cucumber salads, so having the cucumber with the adobo chicken with the vinegar was a good choice. To emphasize the vinegar on the salad, I altered the proportions for my dressing, using equal amounts of oil and the soy-vinegar mixture from the chicken.

Chicken adobo salad

2 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup white vinegar
5–6 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
fresh ground pepper

spring mix lettuce and spinach
cucumber, sliced thin
carrots, sliced thin
red onion, sliced very thin

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Put the chicken thighs in a pan with the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and pepper. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through, turning the chicken over once about half way through.

Remove the chicken thighs. Place them under the broiler for 2 or 3 minutes to brown. Then let them rest a few minutes before slicing.

Take 2 tablespoons of the soy-vinegar cooking liquid and combine with the oil for the dressing. Boil the remainder of the liquid down by at least half, until it starts to thicken, to concentrate the sauce for spooning over the chicken.

Arrange the cucumber, carrots, and onions on the lettuce and spinach. Whisk or shake in a small jar the oil and soy-vinegar mixture. Spoon the dressing over the salad.

Slice the chicken. Place in the middle of the salad. Spoon the reduced cooking liquid over the chicken.

Zucchini and tomato frittata

Zucchini and tomato frittata

This is an attractive frittata. But the tomatoes weren’t put on the top for appearance. It was done for flavor. Let me explain.

I started out wanting to make a frittata with zucchini. Zucchini is a mild vegetable, so I needed something to complement it. Tomatoes seemed the obvious choice–think ratatouille. But I though if I cut up the tomatoes and mixed them in the frittata, they would overwhelm the zucchini. Also, given the nature of a frittata, only so much can be mixed in, so including the tomatoes would reduce the amount of zucchini, further limiting the zucchini flavor. That’s when I had the idea of slicing the tomatoes thinly and using them to cover the top. The zucchini could be the star in the body of the frittata, to be complemented by the tomatoes on the top.

If you’ve looked at any of my other frittata recipies, you have seen that I like to finish the cooking of the frittata under the broiler. I made an exception for this one, baking it in the oven instead, because I didn’t want to brown the tomatoes.

Zucchini and tomato frittata

1 cup zucchini cut into matchsticks, about 3/16-inch (1 good-sized zucchini)
1 tablespoon shallot, chopped
olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated or finely shredded
2–3 Roma tomatoes, sliced very thin, enough to cover the frittata
salt
fresh ground pepper

3 eggs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cook the shallot in olive oil about 2 minutes over low heat until it starts to get soft. Add the zucchini and a bit of salt and pepper. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes until the zucchini just starts to soften. Don’t overcook, and remember that it will cook some more in the frittata.

Put the eggs into a good-sized mixing bowl and beat just to mix them up. If needed, add a bit more oil to the pan and let it get hot. Add a small amount of egg mixture to the pan to set the bottom of the frittata to prevent sticking. Turn the heat down to medium low. Mix the zucchini and shallots and the Parmesan into the eggs and pour the mixture into the pan. Place the tomato slices on top, covering the frittata. Sprinkle a little more salt and pepper on the tomatoes. Cook this for about 5 minutes to set the bottom and sides.

Put the frittata in the oven. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the egg next to the tomatoes just starts to brown.

Remove from the oven, loosen up the sides with a spatula if necessary, and slide the frittata out onto the serving plate.

Chicken artichoke farfalla salad

Chicken artichoke farfalla salad

This is another one of my favorite pasta salads. It has the same ingredients as the artichoke and sun-dried tomato salad posted earlier, just substituting the farfalla for the lettuce. Actually, the idea for this combination came first for this pasta salad. I later adapted it to make the other salad.

Chicken artichoke farfalla salad

slightly less than 1 cup farfalla
1 cup cooked chicken breast, bite-sized pieces
1/2 large can artichoke hearts, cut into quarters or sixths
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon herbs de provence
3 tablespooons olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Cook the farfalla as instructed on the package, drain, and rinse to cool (or cook earlier and cool in refrigerator).

Combined the ingredients and toss to mix.

Mexican salad

Mexican salad

This is my take on a very common type of salad. Salads like this are often called taco salads, but I reserve that name for salads in a tortilla bowl, or at least with some form of tortilla along with the salad.

Use the seasoning of your choice with the ground beef. I use Penzey’s Arizona Dreaming, which is salt-free. But whatever you choose, use plenty of seasoning, as the very well-seasoned ground beef gives the character to the salad.

Mexican salad

1/4–1/3 pound ground beef
taco or other southwestern-style seasoning
oil

romaine lettuce
avocado
tomato
red and green bell pepper
black olives, sliced
red onion, sliced thin

ranch dressing
shredded sharp cheddar cheese
salsa or pico de gallo
sour cream

Cook the ground beef with a generous amount of the seasoning.
 
Start the salad with a generous amount of romaine lettuce. Add the avocado, tomato, red and green pepper, olives, and onion. Place the ground beef in the middle. Add modest amount of ranch dressing. Top with the shredded cheese. Add dollops of salsa and sour cream.

Greek frittata

Greek frittata

The feta cheese and Kalamata olives make this a Greek frittata.

This is a recipe where you can vary the flavor profile by varying the amounts of the ingredients. Add more feta cheese to make that more dominant. Or reduce the number of Kalamata olives to lower their presence in the frittata. (I would recommend these directions for making modifications.)

Greek frittata

1 cup coarsely chopped spinach
1/4 cup feta cheese plus more for the top
8 Kalamata olives, cut into quarters lengthwise

3 eggs
olive oil

Put the eggs into a good-sized mixing bowl and beat just to mix them up. Add a bit of oil to the pan and let it get hot. Add a small amount of the eggs to the pan to set the bottom of the frittata to prevent sticking. Turn the heat down to medium low. Mix the spinach, cheese, and olives into the eggs. Pour the mixture into the pan. Cook this for about 5 minutes to set the bottom and sides.

Preheat the broiler. When the 5 minutes cooking on the stove are up, sprinkle on additional feta cheese and place the pan under the broiler, about 6 to 7 inches below. Cook until the top is set and just starts to brown. This is about 1–1/2 to 2 minutes for me, but watch closely.

Remove from the broiler, loosen up the sides with a spatula if necessary, and slide the frittata out onto the serving plate.

Teriyaki chicken salad

Teriyaki chicken salad

I always like pineapple with teriyaki chicken, so that was my starting point for this salad. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs for their fuller flavor, but you could certainly use a piece of chicken breast instead. For the dressing, a vinaigrette with teriyaki sauce was an obvious choice. I included honey, as I felt that the sweetness would work well with the rest of the salad.

Teriyaki chicken salad

1 or 2 boneless skinless chicken thighs, depending on size and appetite
teriyaki sauce

baby spinach
mushrooms, sliced
scallions, sliced, including plenty of the green part

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons teriyaki sauce
1 teaspoon ginger
1 small clove garlic, minced or pressed, or 1/2 of a large clove
fresh ground pepper

Marinate chicken thighs in teriyaki sauce in a plastic bag for an hour or two.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken thighs on a rack in a baking pan. Brush on bit more of the teriyaki sauce. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn on broiler and place the chicken under broiler for about 3 minutes to further brown to tops and finish cooking. Watch closely to not burn. Check that the thighs are cooked through by slicing in or reading a temperature of 160 to 165 on an instant-read thermometer. The thermometer is likely to be practical only for thicker thighs, inserted from the side into the middle. If not cooked through, you can just leave them in the oven for a few more minutes.

You want to let the chicken rest for a few minutes before slicing, so there is no need to start the final assembly of the salad before you take the chicken out.

Put mushrooms and scallions on the spinach, reserving some of the green parts. Whisk or shake in a jar the oil, vinegar, honey, teriyaki sauce, ginger, garlic, and fresh ground pepper. Pour over the salad. Slice the chicken thighs and place in the middle of the salad. Top the chicken with the remaining green parts of the scallions. Put chunks of pineapple on the salad.