What about some food for the weekend? I'm not finished posting about La Rochelle and the Vendée region, but it can wait. Here's something simple to make and delicious to eat for your lunch.
Recently I was thinking about making croque-monsieur sandwiches. They are so typically French — you can order one in any of thousands of cafés around the country. Okay, so they're just grilled ham-and-cheese sandwiches. No big deal. One thing that makes them different from American versions of a grilled cheese or a grilled ham-and-cheese is the optional béchamel sauce that you can put inside and on top of the of the sandwich with the cheese.
I don't know about you, but I love spinach and other greens. I like them well cooked (though fresh spinach leaves make a good garnish or salad — try a spinach salad with vinaigrette, chunks of Roquefort cheese, and some toasted walnuts or pecans). Anyway, it occurred to me that instead of making a ham-and-cheese sandwich with béchamel sauce (butter, flour, milk), why not make the same sandwich with good creamed spinach?
Cook some fresh or frozen spinach leaves in a saucepan or in the microwave. Drain the spinach well so it's not too watery. Add a spoonful of cream — crème fraîche if you can get it — and continue cooking the spinach until the cream thickens just slightly. Make a sandwich with lightly toasted bread, a slice of boiled ham (which will keep the bottom slice of bread from going soggy), a layer of creamed spinach leaves, and some thinly sliced or grated cheese (I used French Cantal cheese, but Cheddar would be good too). Put more cheese on top of the top slice of bread and grill the sandwich in a hot oven, just until the cheese melts and turns golden brown. This is a sandwich you'll want to eat with a knife and fork...