6 pita breads
6 pita breads
January is a difficult month to get through sometimes. There is the let down from the excitments of the holidays and the weather that can be dreary, cold, and unpreditable. Now we don’t even have the Super Bowl and the attendant parties to look forward to. This year’s Super Bowl will be played February 7th in Miami at the Dolphins Stadium. But that does give you time for planning a party. Super Bowl food runs the gamut from chips and dips to pizza and subs. It is not the time to pull out the good china and the Coq Au Vin. One of my favorite easy comfort foods is a good sloppy joe. It is such a convenient choice for a crowd. You can put it in a crock pot to keep it warm. Serving from the crock pot is very convenient. A basket of good bakery rolls lightly toasted and a condiment bar can also be included. Condiments might include sliced pickles, pickled jalapenos, coleslaw, and shredded cheese. Another idea would be to offer the new slider size hamburger buns for those who want to exercise portion control. With some special potato chips and paper plates and napkins, you don’t even need silverware.
This recipe for sloppy joes is a little unusual. I adapted it from a recipe I saw on a website for Lindauer Family Farms. They raise natural, antibiotic free beef and their website includes recipes for beef. What I liked about the recipe was the inclusion of jellied cranberry sauce. I have used this before in making meatballs and it sounded perfect for sloppy joes. I love this recipe and it doubles easily for a crowd.
2 lbs ground beef round
1 medium onion, chopped
3 Tbls brown sugar
1 Tbls dry mustard
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup ketchup
1 8 0z can jellied cranberry sauce
1 Tbls Worcestershire sauce
Brown ground beef and onions in a large sauce pan. Drain off fat. Add dry ingredients and stir and cook for a few minutes. Add ketchup, cranberry sauce and worcestershire sauce. Cover and simmer on low-medium heat for 30 to 45 minutes.
I would like to offer a special thanks to Kathy of All Food Considered for choosing Croque Monsieur for the second Barefoot Contessa recipe this month. My passion for French food is long standing, but I had never made this decadent sandwich before. Perhaps it is because it is so decadent; bread, ham, cheese, white sauce and more cheese. I hate to admit it but I do not have a natural affinity for cheese. There was a time when I would not touch the stuff, but over the years I have allowed certain cheeses to prove their goodness to me. Gruyere is one of those cheeses. I think I learned to like it during the fondue era of the 70’s. Parmesan is another favorite and I liberally slather pizzas with it. So Croque Monsieur appealed to me on all levels and it did not disappoint.
The only change I made to the recipe was the bread. Ina uses Pepperidge Farm white bread and although I like it, I like my Bread Machine Rosemary Focaccia better. I will include that recipe also. The recipe came from a Better Homes and Gardens Bread Machine cookbook.
3/4 cup water
2 Tbls olive oil
2 cups bread flour
1 Tbls sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast
3 Tbls olive oil
2 to 3 Tbls chopped rosemary
Course salt to taste
Add first six ingredients in the order given to the bread machine. Process on the dough setting. Remove dough from bread machine. Cover and let rest for ten minutes. Grease a 12″ round pizza pan. Roll or pat dough into pan. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Make depressions in dough with fingertips. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with rosemary and coarse salt. Bake 15 to 18 minutes.
CROQUE MONSIEUR ( I made half of the recipe )
2 Tbls unsalted butter
3 Tbls all purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1 tsp kosher salt ( I omitted )
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.
To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.
Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot. Makes 8 sandwiches.
4 chicken breast halves without skin
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons dried tarragon ( less if you like)
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
24 slices of Pepperige Farm white bread
1 1/2 cups chopped roasted almonds ( the kind that come in a can)
extra mayonnaise for spreading on edges
Place the chicken breasts in a large skillet with water to cover. Bring to a boil with the cover askew. Lower the heat a notch and simmer gently until the chicken is opaque throughout. Remove chicken from the liquid and let cool.
Place the mayonnaise in a bowl and add the celery, onion, tarragon, salt and pepper. Stir to mix well. Break the chicken into large pieces. Working in 2 batches, use a food processor to chop the breasts until they resemble oatmeal. Add the ground chicken to the celery mixture and combine.
Line up 4 slices of bread and spread each slice with some of the chicken mixture, forming a layer 1/4 inch thick. Cover each slice with a second slice. Repeat until you have 12 sandwiches. Using a 1 1/2 inch biscuit cutter, cut out 4 rounds from each sandwich.
Chop roasted almonds in a food processor to the consistency of fine gravel. Pour the chopped almonds into a baking dish or onto a dinner plate. Spread a film of mayonnaise around the cut edges of each sandwich round and roll the sandwich edges in the almonds to coat. Store covered with saran wrap in refrigerator until ready to serve. Makes 48 one (or two) bite sandwiches.
By the way, the cute tiered server came from an antique shop in St. Augustine called A Step Back in Time. It is not an antique, but I liked it, and they have more of them if you are interested.