Sunday, May 26, 2013

Hibernating for the rest of the Memorial Weekend....

2012-2013 was a very difficult academic year with much inner political upheaval, shall we say, at our institution. As usual, I taught full-time at the community college and part-time at the state university, so seven classes a semester plus a few extra-curriculars made Gina a very busy gal, and a very tired one by the end of the spring term and the academic year. Moreover, they are repairing the heating system in the main building over the summer, so I had exactly one day after the semester ended to finish all of my final grades, make syllabi for the summer sessions, and purge thirteen years' worth of crap in my office and get everything packed up before leaving for the annual SUNY technology conference in Utica for a few days.

If that weren't enough, I have been rocking a particularly vicious sinus infection for about three weeks that I am just now getting over. And as I blogged about yesterday, right on the heels of my conference, we had a day in Montreal planned to reconnect with some good friends who were passing through on their way to Quebec City, and we didn't get home until late last night.

Given all of these conditions, plus unseasonably cold, rainy, and windy weather, Cyd and I plan to relax by the fire, clearing out the dvr and watching dvd's, and napping alongside three snoring dogs until Tuesday when we are contractually compelled to return to work. So today, we stay home and recuperate, but tonight, we pay homage to our cosmopolitan neighbor to the north, Montreal, with a supper of Croque Madame and Croque Monsieur (the Madame has the egg on top, naturellement). And though I cannot source tamarind in my provincial little town to be able to replicate the Itacate house margarita, I have fashioned a tangy and refreshing ruby red grapefruit margarita that hits the same sweet and sour notes. C'est si bon!

Croque Monsieur and Madame
(Source: adapted from Gourmet, March 2007)

First you have to make a b├ęchamel:
Melt 3 tablespoons of butter until it foams, then whisk in five tablespoons of flour and cook for a minute or two, whisking the whole time. Slowly pour in two cups of milk and cook until thick, whisking constantly.

Remove from heat and grate in some fresh nutmeg (1/4 teaspoon, or to taste), 1/2 teaspoon white pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and about 1/4 cup finely shredded gruyere or emmenthal cheese (or your favorite aged, Alpine-type cheese).
Take one piece of bread and spread a goodly amount of the sauce on top (about 3 T?). Then sprinkle on another tablespoon of shredded cheese, a couple of pieces of ham, and another tablespoon of shredded cheese. Spread the top slice with a very thin layer of Dijon mustard, then top the sandwich. Brown the sandwich on both sides in a buttered skillet until golden. Top each sandwich with another few spoonfuls of the bechamel and broil for a couple of minutes in the oven until the sauce gets brown and bubbly. For Croque Madame, top with a fried egg.

Garnish with fresh chives if you've got 'em! YUM!
Ruby Red Grapefruit Margarita
1 cup ruby red grapefruit juice (I used "light")
1/4 cup frozen orange (or better yet, orange-pineapple) juice concentrate
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup tequila of choice (I use Sauza silver)
2 tablespoons triple sec (or Cointreau or Grand Marnier if you're fancy)
ice to just BELOW the fill line of the Margaritaville blender (about 4 cups?)
lime wedge garnish for each glass (=three 16 oz. glasses)
rim each glass lightly with salt if you prefer

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