Civil servant and mother of three, Niamh is a self-confessed tea addict who lives in Ireland.
“Time has come to prove yourself, stop been a home cook” says Niamh.
Niamh also says: “prompted by my visit to Le Petit Parisien and with my head full of memories of past eaten Croque Madames, I decided to cook myself one for lunch a couple of days later.
As I have already said, this is not your run-of-the-mill toasted cheese sandwich. Key to its success is good quality ham, a generous smear of Dijon mustard and a béchamel sauce with plenty of gruyère included. Words cannot describe how something containing such humble ingredients – bread, ham, and cheese – could taste so good. I always serve a home baked ham along with the turkey for Christmas dinner, and this would be a lovely dish to make with any leftovers and is a great way of elevating the humble ham sandwich to something a little bit more luxurious. Here’s my recipe…”
4 slices of white sourdough bread
20g plain flour
75g gruyere, grated
A little Dijon mustard
2 slices of good quality ham (good quality)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
A little extra gruyère, grated
A little vegetable oil
Preheat your grill to a moderate heat. Place the slices of bread on a baking tray lined with foil.
Place the butter in a small saucepan over a moderate heat and allow to melt. When melted, use a pastry brush to brush a little butter over the topside of each piece of bread. Place under the grill and toast until the bread is just turning golden brown (do not allow to burn). Remove and set aside.
Add the flour to the rest of the melted butter and stir with a small whisk. Allow to cook for one minute to get rid of the raw flour taste. Gradually add the milk, whisking all the time, to create a smooth sauce. Allow to simmer gently for a few minutes, until it starts to thicken.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and add half the grated gruyère and stir until it has melted into the sauce. Taste and season as necessary. Set aside.
Spread the untoasted sides of two of the slices of bread with some Dijon mustard and lay a slice of ham on each, followed by the remaining cheese, dividing it equally between the two sandwiches. Place under the grill and allow to cook until the cheese has melted.
Top each sandwich with the rest of the bread, making sure that the toasted side is facing upwards. Dividing it equally, spread the béchamel sauce on top of each sandwich and sprinkle over a little extra grated gruyère. Grill for about 5 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and has turned a rich golden colour.
If liked you can top the finished sandwich with a fried egg. Heat a little oil in a small frying pan and fry an egg to your liking.
Place on top of the cooked sandwich and serve immediately.
Michael’s wine recommendation – CLICK HERE
I first met Niamh Mannion when I was invited to be a commentator on Master Chef Ireland some two years ago, Niamh was in the final three. The team came to Cape Town and did a Cook Off at The Test Kitchen under guidance of uber Chef Luke Dale Roberts. Since then we have continued our friendship on the internet. It is a friendship I treasure. Niamh is an enormously talented chef and her Twitter timeline is full of the most mouth watering dishes and bakes.
Do visit her on her website – CLICK HERE