PARIS, France — The last time I was in Paris the thing that impressed me most about the local McDonalds was it served wine. Oh. Never mind. I was drinking wine at a caf next to McDonalds. Easy mistake to make as they drink wine everywhere, all the time, in France. They probably drink it in the restroom! Oh. Again, that was me.The big news this week in Paris, however, is not the unveiling of this year’s Beaujolais, but the latest addition to McDonalds’ menu: Le McBaguette. Set to debut April 18 in the City of Lights, this tribute to French fast food is said, in the words of McDonalds France president Nawfal Trabelsic, to be “of symbolic importance.” I beg to differ. Sure it sounds like a huge step for mankind when compared to, say, the Double Cheeseburger on the Dollar Menu, but France has already brought many a great sandwich to the world. Can you say Croque Monsieur? OK, that is a hard one to pronounce. How about Monte Cristo? You don’t need to be able to roll your “Rs” to appreciate these culinary contributions. Following are the recipes for both, plus the McBaguette. You decide which one makes you sit up and say “encore.” McBon appetit!Le McBaguetteIngredients for one sandwich:1⁄4 of one rustic French bread baguette, cut length-wise2 Tbls. strong, whole grain mustard1 Tbls. butter1 grilled hamburger patty2 thick slices Emental cheese (a rich Swiss found in Safeway's gourmet cheese section, or the Village Market, in Incline)one large lettuce leafPreparation: Spread bread with softened butter on both sides, mustard on top only. Layer beef patty, cheese and lettuce on bread bottom, close up with top slice. Serve.Croque Monsieur This ham and cheese sandwich is topped with a creamy bchamel sauceIngredients for four sandwiches:2 Tbsp. butter 2 Tbsp. flour 11⁄2 cups milk A pinch each of salt, freshly ground pepper, nutmeg, or more to taste 6 ounces Gruyre cheese, grated (about 11⁄2 cups grated) 1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (packed) 8 slices of French or Italian loaf bread 2 ounces ham, sliced Dijon mustardPreparation: Preheat oven to 400F. To make the bchamel sauce melt butter in a small saucepan on medium/low heat until it just starts to bubble. Add the flour and cook, stirring until smooth, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking continuously, cooking until thick. Remove from heat. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in the Parmesan and 1⁄4 cup of the grated Gruyre. Set aside. Next, lay out the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven, a few minutes each side, until lightly toasted. For extra flavor you can spread some butter on the bread slices before toasting. Lightly brush half of the toasted slices with mustard. Add the ham slices and about 1 cup of the remaining Gruyre cheese. Top with the other toasted bread slices. Spoon bchamel sauce on to the tops of the sandwiches. Sprinkle with the remaining Gruyre cheese. Place on a broiling pan. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes, then turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese topping is bubbly and lightly browned.Monte CristoA fancy grilled French toast sandwich sprinkled with powdered sugarIngredients for one sandwich:2 slices bread (preferably Hawaiian Sweet bread or potato bread) 1 tsp. mayonnaise1 tsp. prepared mustard4 slices cooked ham 2 slices Swiss cheese powdered sugar1 egg1⁄2 cup milkPreparation: Spread bread with mayonnaise and mustard. Alternate ham and Swiss slices on bread. Beat egg and milk in a small bowl. Coat the sandwich with the egg and milk mixture. Heat a greased skillet over medium heat, brown the sandwich on both sides. Sift powdered sugar over top side. Serve hot.
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