Croque-Monsieur Bake is a scrumptious, make-ahead brunch recipe for lovers of cheesy, gooey treats. You can easily scale up this recipe to feed a crowd!
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Nigella Lawson really knows how to get you excited about food. Reading her books, you can hear her voice: her funny and sometimes witty comments, no-fuss instructions, and mouth-watering pictures (in which she’s often featured) all make her recipes incredibly appealing. Somehow, she manages to make you believe she’s one of your friends telling you about a fabulous recipe she just found out about.
Although it’s been on the market for years and countless more “weeknight cooking” cookbooks have come out since then, Nigella Lawson’s 7th cookbook, Nigella Express, is still a go-to tome for delicious food, fast. At first read, I thought Nigella Express was an enticing book. I found myself wanting to try many more recipes than I had time to. The recipes are generous and indulgent—you don’t turn to Nigella’s book to prepare a refined meal served in dainty portions. This book is great in a ‘weekday’ kind of way: I wasn’t at any point blown away or surprised by the recipes, but there are sure shots that will get you out of your work-week routine. Nigella Express is a great book for novice cooks: the ingredient lists are short, the instructions are straight to the point, and the recipes can really be whipped up pretty quickly.
Many recipes are inspired by Asian and Indian cuisines and feature ingredients that can be a bit harder to find (and unfamiliar to the beginner cook), but substitution options are often given. I thought the last section, “Storecupboard SOS,” was especially useful because it provides instructions on how to prepare many basics from scratch, such as flavored cooking oils and dressings as well as very last-minute emergency recipes like hummus, soups, and salads. But because I think this book is perfect for novice cooks, I thought a pantry section was lacking. People who are just starting out in the kitchen often struggle with organization, and that’s precisely why take-out food so often becomes a go-to option. A section describing what you should keep in the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer to quickly whip up Nigella’s recipes would have been useful.
As I expected, the desserts in Nigella Express are particularly rich. Mrs. Lawson isn’t afraid of cream and butter, and it shows: while all of the dessert options are undoubtedly delicious, I think they are, more often than not, too sinful for day-to-day sweet endings. I preferred the few fruit-based desserts, but if you’re a sugar addict, you will indeed find your fix in this book.
All in all, Nigella Express is a good book to help solve the struggle of weeknight meals. Beginners will feel like stars when they successfully cook great-tasting meals from scratch, while intermediate to expert cooks will want to add their own finishing touches to bring the recipes to a more refined level.
Today I’m treating you with my version of a dish from Nigella Express. Croque-Monsieur Bake is an easy, scrumptious, make-ahead-friendly dish for lovers of cheesy, gooey dishes. Although croque-monsieur is a popular brunch dish, you could very well serve this for lunch or a lazy dinner. Simply put this croque-monsieur bake together the night before, bake it when you come back from work, and enjoy its cheesy deliciousness. This dish couldn’t be easier to prepare and you can easily scale up the recipe to feed a crowd.
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