We are so excited to welcome Elliott Shaffner to the Little House staff. Elliott is the writer of the mouthwatering food blog F for Food, which we have long admired. Elliott and her partner Fred created and photographed this festive post on their Oscar celebration, AND she brought some all local Croque Bellevue bites in for folks to taste Saturday. Lucky us!!
Less than a week ago the sun shone bright and the thermostat reached a balmy 70 degrees. The city came alive – it was pulsing. People were out on their porches, out in the parks, out in the restaurants, out on their bikes, they were everywhere. And though the trees are still bare, and there is no green grass or fresh tomatoes yet, the promise, the hint, of all of that and more was palpable. Exciting. Even better than a clandestine glimpse between the button of a blouse, it was a major seduction.
And I do love a seduction. A little tease. Probably why I so love the femme fatales from Film Noir. It's all about the want, the hint, the suggestion. Once the characters get what they want, it's all downhill. But, given the chance, they would undoubtedly do it again. Just like the four seasons and our responses to each one and the one sneaking up next. Agitated about winter by the end of winter, daydreaming about carefree summer, then agitated about summer by the end of summer, daydreaming about cozy winter. I guess we aren't much different than the duped, Walter Neff in Double Indemnity. He knew it as a bad idea, but Barbra Stanwyck's anklet, her seduction, was where his will and determination would lead him, hell or high water.
Speaking of the onset of spring and of films, one tell-tale event that speaks to both, the Academy Awards, is happening this weekend. And in that very city of subtle seasonal changes I spoke of, the city of limos and lights, Los Angeles (which, in an interesting twist from the ultimate femme fatale, Mother Nature, is experiencing torrential downpours this weekend). Though I was never directly involved in 'the business' during my tenure in LA, nor did I get too, too wrapped up in the glitter and glamour of that which is Hollywood, I have always enjoyed the Oscars. I love a simple, little soiree to celebrate the occasion replete with drinks, precious crabby snacks and homemades and, of course, the requisite Oscar ballots for everyone to cast their votes.
So, tomorrow, on Oscar night here in Richmond, with friends all around, let us take a peek into the City of Angels, glowing bright and beautiful, rain or shine. And serve these delicious little sandwiches, which are a twist on the classic Croque Monsieur, which I was first seduced by at the famed Chateau Marmont.
Every item below can be found with much ease and little expense at Little House Green Grocery. So go get your Oscars on!
Makes 16 bite-sized sandwiches
Sixteen 1 1/2-inch cubes of Billy Bread (remove all crusts)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons melted
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole milk
4 ounces Mountain View McClure Baby Swiss or Gruyère cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup finely diced, cooked Keenbell Farms Bacon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Finely chopped fresh chives (for garnish)
Preheat the oven to 375°. Using kitchen scissors, cut a 1/2-inch square from the center of each bread cube; don't cut through the bottom. Discard the squares. In a bowl, toss the hollowed-out bread cubes with the 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Arrange the cubes on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes, until they are lightly toasted.
Increase the oven temperature to 425°. In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the flour and cook over moderate heat, whisking, until smooth, about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk until a thick paste forms. Remove from the heat and fold in the cheese and bacon. Season with the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Spoon the cheese filling into the bread cubes. Bake for about 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
Top with fresh chives. Serve hot.