Monday, October 15, 2012
Vegan Mofo #15 - Celine & Joni’s Monte Cristo...
Vegan Mofo #15 - Celine & Joni’s Monte Cristo
The Book - Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites
The Author - Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman
The Recipe - The Monte Cristo
Page # 83
Difficulty - Easy
Duration - Roughly thirty, maybe forty minutes.
I’ll be honest, when I first opened this cook book and saw this recipe I thought the Monte Cristo sounded disgusting. I had never heard of, nor eaten such a sandwich before, but apparently in America it’s a ‘thing.’ Over the past year or so I’ve seen a lot of different variation on this recipe, in cook books, online etc.. and each time I see this sort of sandwich featured I feel a little bit baffled and disgusted. Baffled because I don’t understand what the ‘big deal’ is, and disgusted because I can’t imagine eating such a strange concoction. Subsequently every time I see a recipe for this sandwich I feel slightly more curious. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while then you know how I feel about strange and bizarre foods, you also know that I typically end up making things that I initially find ‘off-putting.’ So of course it would happen that one day after a particularly long day of work, when I wasn’t feeling much like cooking anything at all I decided against my better judgement to give this sandwich a try. I just so happened to have all of the ingredients handy - except the vegan deli meat, though that was easy enough to acquire after work, and I thought why not?
The Monte Cristo is apparently inspired by the French Sandwich known as the croque-monsieur and became popular in the United States in the 1930's, gaining popularity through to the 1960's. It is classic ‘diner food’ and tastes like fast food. Though I’d never eaten a Monte Cristo before making this one it reminded me so much of the diners I’d eat at growing up, and many of the sandwiches they offered. After having eaten it I said to my friend E “It tasted like it should give you a heart attack.” to which he replied “That’s what a real Monte Cristo is, it’s the heart-attack special.”
So what exactly is it? And what’s on it? Well basically it’s French Toast, and stuffed in-between is vegan deli meat and vegan cheese slathered in a special sauce made of vegan mayo, ketchup, pickle relish, Dijon Mustard and garlic. The French toast batter is super simple, just soy milk, flour, paprika, salt, pepper and dried dill. Once the French Toast is done, and the sandwiches are assembled you stick them in a broiler for a few minutes until they’re toasty and the cheese has melted. Then Celine and Joni suggest serving them with a side of Maple Syrup for dipping. Sounds crazy right? Especially the part about the maple syrup yeah?
Well, did I like it? Actually - much to my surprise - I did. It’s a strange amalgamation of flavor and it just tastes so wrong and bad for you. In every bite you’re reminded of the most delicious terrible for you fast food you’ve ever eaten and there’s something a little satisfying about that. The decadence of it is appealing yet you can feel satisfied knowing that the sandwich is cruelty-free and while it may not be vegan ‘health-food’ at least it’s not loaded with cholesterol. I even liked the Maple Syrup for dipping, the sweetness really brought the sandwich to a new level. Though I have to say this recipe makes four and if you’re not actually cooking for four half the recipe. Eating two of these in one sitting is way, way to much.
Unfortunately these sandwiches don’t have much color so trying to make them look pretty for the photograph wasn’t easy. You’ll just have to trust me when I say that they’re better then they look. Oh, and incase you’re interested I used Daiya Mozzarella for the cheese, and Tofurkey’s Hickory Smoked Slices for the Deli Meat. The Smoked Slices were actually really tasty and reminded me a lot of what I remember actual smoked lunch-meat turkey to taste like. Definite thumbs up on that one.