Monday, 28 September 2009

Meet the Continental cousins

With this post, I'm crossing over in the subject matter of my other blog Ecothrifter, but surely I can post about food here too as eating good grub is an important element of family life.

At weekends my partner, little girl and I enjoy a cooked breakfast - it is not necessarily a traditional English fry up, we like to explore 'exotic' options too.

This weekend I opted for two Continental cousins of Welsh rarebit and the less sophisticated Cheese on Toast: Croque monsieur (pictured on top) and Mozzarella in Carrozza (pictured below). Technically they are not breakfast dishes, more like snacks, but on a coldish morning they are very welcome in our household.

There is a variance to the Croque Monsieur, which is called Croque Madame, both very popular in France and Belgium. Croque Madame has a cooked egg on top. Mozzarella in Carrozza is classed as a starter over here - I believe it originates from southern Italy.

Michela likes both, but her favourite is eggy bread, which is a common snack in northern Italy. If you'd like to have a go, read below!

Croque Monsieur (serves 4)
50g spreading butter
8 slices white or brown bread
2 tablespoons of Mustard
200g Gruyere Cheese, grated
8 slices of ham
oil for frying
Spread the butter on one side of all the slices of bread. Spread the mustard on top of the butter (spread less mustard on the kids' croques). Turn 4 slices around (possibly on a tray/plate otherwise you get butter/mustard all over your worktop), divide the cheese and ham between them, top with the other 4 slices (all buttered sides externally). Press well, you can also tie these 'parcels' with cooking string to keep them together. Fry until golden on both sides (if you use a non stick pan you don't need too much oil). Plate up, remove string if used and serve hot!

Mozzarella in Carrozza (serves 4)
8 slices of bread (possibly dry/toasted)
1x 200g pack fresh mozzarella, drained
2 eggs
salt and pepper
120ml milk
plain flour to scatter
oil for frying
Cut the crusts of bread and cut into slices around 10 x 7cm (As I'm anal, I use a plastic ruler, but basically you want a rectangular shape). Slice the mozzarella in four pieces. Beat the eggs in a jug and season with salt and pepper. Pour milk in a flattish dish and dip all the slices of bread on one side (a tray/big plate can be handy here too). Place the mozzarella on the dry side of four slices. Season and top with other slices. Scatter little flour on both sides of your sandwiches, then dip them in the egg (you can use the same dish you used for the milk as milk has been used up). Some restaurants deep fry these mozzarella sarnies but I prefer to fry in a non-stick pan with little oil. Fry till golden on both sides and serve. The mozzarella inside should be melted, so don't cook on too high heat otherwise the outside will get scorched quickly. Drain excess oil by placing mozzarella sarnies on kitchen towel.

No top tip this week, but a recipe for Michela's favourite: eggy bread. Dip stale bread (you can use toasted bread, stale baguette cut in roundlets or any other bread in chunks) into some milk poured in a flattish dish (the quantity depends on how much bread you're using, you can pour gradually to avoid waste). Sprinkle with flour on both sides (handle carefully or the bread will fall apart). If you're using a good amount of bread you will need two eggs, beaten with a bit of sugar in a flattish dish. Dip your bread in the egg. Fry the eggy bread in a non stick pan if you can as you need less oil. Drain excess oil by placing eggy bread on kitchen towel. Serve warm. If your partner likes brown sauce, you might want to put less sugar in so he can have it as a savoury. I scatter extra sugar of top of my eggy bread bits. It's a popular Italian snack, although my mum didn't make it that often as she complained that it stank her kitchen. So use your extractor fan or open a window/door.
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