Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Brunch, with Bloody Mary and Croque Madame

No, not the name of a weekend transvestite cookery show. This combination is the perfect hangover cure.

About six years ago, before embarking on my current career as a professional know-it-all, I owned a couple of busy cocktail bars in central London; and on a Sunday morning we would do a brunch special with a Bloody Mary.

If you take any international flight, this famous cocktail consists merely of a shot of vodka with a can of pre-mixed tomato and lemon juice, served in a plastic cup, along with a bag of sour cream and onion mini pretzels (I'm not complaining - they're delicious!) on the side. However, in my bars, it was a running competition between the bar staff to see how many ingredients you could conceivably add to a Bloody Mary and yet avoid accusations of inauthenticity.

As far as I am concerned, the recipe here is the perfect combination of ingredients, whatever my old regulars (one of which who is still my excellent friend, Phil) have to say on the matter.

To serve with my ultimate Bloody Mary, I have chosen a Croque Madame. In France (my all-time favourite road trip holiday destination), this delicious toasted ham, cheese, bechamel sauce and egg sandwich has been elevated to the status of national treasure. And why not? If you serve it with my Bloody Mary, you have the perfect 'chevaux du chien' ('hair of the dog,' for you Peter Sellers fans), due to the combination of carbs, protein, fat, vegetables, sugar and alcohol. It's practically medicinal.

Mrs Ribeye and I are contemplating a trip to Nice, on France's Cote d'Azur at the end of June - depending on whether our planned purchase of a soft-top BMW Z3 to get us down there, comes to fruition (our current Smart car doesn't really promise the same fun factor). If we do manage to end up in Nice, I guarantee you that this is the first thing we order at a pavement cafe near the Rue de Rivoli on our first Sunday morning in France; whilst reading the Sunday Times (the British version of course - I can barely speak French, let alone read it). I cannot wait.

A single shot of vodka in your cocktail keeps this whole dish (including the sandwich) down to £3 per serving. Another shot (or two, or three) will take you over the Potless budget. But on a Sunday morning, after a heavy Saturday night, will you REALLY care?

Serves 4

The Ultimate Bloody Mary

INGREDIENTS: (per serving)

A shot (25ml) of vodka
100ml tomato juice
10ml lemon juice
10ml sherry
2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon of Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon of horseradish sauce
Pinches of celery salt and pepper
Celery stick
Lemon wedge, to serve

In a tall glass, filled with ice, mix the ingredients with the celery stick. Serve with a straw pushed down the length of the celery stick, and a lemon wedge.


Croque Madame


250ml milk
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of plain flour
Pinches of salt and pepper
100g grated gruyere or cheddar cheese, plus another 100g for sprinkling
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
8 thick slices of white bread
4 thick slices of ham
4 eggs
2 tablespoons of butter

In a pan, on a moderate heat, cook the olive oil and flour together to form a paste. Add the milk bit by bit, until the sauce is lump-free, and then cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened (15 minutes approx). Take the sauce off the heat and add the cheese, stirring until melted. Season to taste. On a slice of bread, spread half a tablespoon of mustard and top with a slice of ham. On another slice of bread, spread a spoonful of the cheese sauce, plus a quarter of the reserved grated cheese. Place the two halves together to form a sandwich. In a lightly oiled pan, place the sandwich and cook until golden and crunchy on each side. Meanwhile, fry an egg in another pan and then place on top of the sandwich, followed by another spoonful of the cheese sauce. Repeat, to make three further sandwiches.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hi, looking forward to getting your ideas, suggestions and recipes here at Potless Towers. Leave a comment and we'll get straight back to you.