Wednesday, February 5, 2014

ham & cheese (at its finest)

Nothing beats a ham 'n cheese pairing...whether in between two slices of bread or inside warm crepes (with asparagus and topped with cheddar 'n b├ęchamel). I gave crepes a whirl last week - takes a bit of time to get the knack on these. When I was in school, and we would bring food into French class (for cultural immersion day), I used to always volunteer for crepes with strawberries and whipped cream. Which meant I really volunteer my mom to make crepes. She would be up late (or up very early) making beautiful crepes for me to take to class. I had no idea how much work that Mom, this is a terribly belated thank you!

1 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more, to taste
8 teaspoons butter, plus more for brushing pan
1 lb. ham steak, sauced and then thinly sliced
½ lb. asparagus, blanched and sliced
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cups milk, heated
Freshly ground pepper
Pinch of nutmeg 

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don't let it brown — about 2 minutes. Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat and stir in nutmeg. Set aside.

Now the crepes, in a blender, combine the milk, egg, flour, oil and the 1/2 teaspoon salt and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. In a crepe pan over medium heat, melt 1 teaspoon of the butter to coat the pan evenly. Lift the pan at a slight angle and pour 2 tablespoons of the batter into the center, tilting the pan to spread the batter to the edges. Return the pan to the heat and cook until the crepe is golden underneath, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a spatula, flip the crepe over and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cover. Layer a crepe, then foil or parchment to prevent sticking. Repeat with the remaining batter to make 8 crepes. To assemble, lay a crepe flat and arrange a bit of sliced ham and asparagus on the crepe and top with a bit of cheddar. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the crepe into quarters and assemble into a misted shallow baking dish. Repeat with the remaining crepes and filling. Top with b├ęchamel sauce and a bit more shredded cheese. Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 35 minutes or until top is slightly golden.

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