I will absolutely never forget the first time I had a Monte Cristo sandwich.
I believe I was in 6th grade, so about 11 years old, and just rediscovering how fun it is to be adventurous with food. Later that same year, I nixed red meat from my diet for about 15 years, but that's a story for another day. So I went for lunch with my family at this little place called the Noyes Cafe in Evanston, IL. They had this amazing sounding sandwich with turkey and swiss cheese, served on FRENCH TOAST, with a side of raspberry jam. I couldn't resist. And then I fell in love and ate them anywhere I could find them for a couple years.
And then I forgot about them. Occasionally I'd remember the delicious combination, and then promptly forget about it. That is, until today.
Foodbuzz in partnership with their Tastemaker Program offered to send me a coupon for free Nature's Pride bread so that I could compete to win a spot to the 2nd annual FoodBuzz Fest in San Francisco November 5-7 as a Nature's Pride Bread Ambassador.
WIN a spot? I had to compete because, to be honest, I just can't afford to go on my own. Being a teacher, and Adam student teaching, a trip out west for a weekend just isn't in the cards for us right now. But a free trip? Sign me up! Well, sign me up to attempt...
I gladly took them up on it and used the coupon on their delicious Double Fiber bread with no particular recipe in mind.
The bread sat atop our refrigerator (isn't that where everyone's bread goes?) for a few days until, like a bullet, the idea hit me today while I was planning on making skillet pizza for dinner. It's like the heavens opened up and shone a light on the bread, and like a lightbulb going on above my head, I had it.
I'd already done a bit of prep work for the pizza I was going to make:
The stars of this creation are these lovely friends:
I first, took two huge slices of the Nature's Pride Double Fiber bread and spread them with one of my favorite foods: soft goat cheese (I'd say two ounces)
Then, I layered on both slices some sauteed mushrooms
A bit of shredded mozzarella cheese, just as a sort of "glue"
Then, I invoked some more good cooking juju by cracking two eggs into one of my grandma's old bowls that we used to make French toast in when we'd have sleepovers.
I beat the eggs, and added a half a cup of nonfat milk. Then, the entire sandwich went into this egg bath and soaked for 45 seconds per side.
I heated up some of my secret ingredient: garlic infused olive oil
Into the pan went my egg-soaked sandwich creation and I cooked it for 3 minutes on each side, flipping twice to guarantee equal browning without burning.
See those bubbles of garlic olive oil under the sandwich? That made the house smell amazing, but I was in no way prepared for the taste that hit my mouth when I took a bite...
From another angle
And again, because I can:
And then I ate, and was promptly sad that I'd only made one sandwich. The sweetness of the onions, the creaminess of the cheese, the bite of the mushrooms, and the egg batter on the outside just made it the best Monte Cristo I've ever had!
In fact, there may be enough mushrooms and onions left for another half... nah, I'll have some chocolate instead.
Thank you all again for your continued support and votes for round 2 of Project Food Blog! Voting ends tomorrow evening!
**This is my official entry for the Natures Pride Bread Ambassador contest to win a trip to the 2010 FoodBuzz Fest**