Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Country Ham and Cheddar Tartine with French Hot Chocolate.

I bet you thought baguettes were only good the day you bought them, all hot and crusty. Mais non! I made baguettes over the weekend, today is Fat Tuesday, and I've got some leftover French bread that's still pretty nice because I bagged the extra and stored it in the fridge.

A tartine is simply the French version of an open-face sandwich. Last week, on an orange and chocolate tear, I made one with brioche, orange jam and Nutella. It was mighty good.
For my savory tartine, the process was much the same.

Except the ingredients were:
1 red onion, caramelized
1 thin slice of country ham
a good quality cheddar
honey mustard

Caramelized onions are a good thing to keep around - they're easy and add a lot of flavor. Cut one medium red onion into rings and sautee in a tablespoon of olive oil or half oil and half butter. Throw in some ground black pepper, sage and a bit of salt and stir while they go translucent over medium heat. Let them go another 15 minutes and you've got a sweet, savory sandwich or meat accompaniment.

My leftover baguette was big, so I only used half, slicing it longways and using only the bottom half of that. I toasted the crusty side first, for crispness, then buttered the bready top half and broiled that just a bit.

While the baguette was toasting, I cooked the country ham with a bit of water in my sautee pan. When the baguette half was toasted, I plated it and applied one of my secret pleasures.
I know. I know. Don't judge. Look at those happy honeybees on the label!

Next, the caramelized onions, country ham and several slices of serious cheddar (today it was Boar's Head). I slid this back under the broiler to melt the cheese into the ham and generally warm everything back up. Et voila - salty, savory, tangy and sweet!

Now the only thing missing was something decadent to wash it down. Enter my friend Carol and her amazing French Chocolate recipe. I refer you to her witty and delicious blog --
Cambria Cooks at http://www.calindstrom.com/cambriacooks/2010/08/05/beverage-french-chocolate/, but the recipe goes like this:

2 1/2 squares Baker’s unsweetened chocolate, cut in pieces
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
Dash of salt
1/2 cup cream, whipped
6 cups of hot milk
Combine water and chocolate and cook over low flame until smooth, stirring constantly for about four minutes. Add sugar and salt; continue to cook stirring until thick for about four minutes longer. Cool. Whip cream. Fold chocolate mixture into cream.
(Try to keep from licking the bowl until after you're done.)
Put two heaping tablespoons of mixture in a mug. For a bit of flare, add a peppermint stick as a stirrer. Chocolate mix can be doubled or tripled easily for larger gatherings. The chocolate mix can also be made the day before and stored in the refrigerator for use, in a covered container.

Thanks, Carol!

This is the creamiest, most decadent hot chocolate I've ever had and really, not much trouble to prepare when you consider how many servings it yields.

Now, if you'll excuse me, with dinner and chocolate out of the way, I've got a date with Dennis Quaid.

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