Originally created 09/06/00

Blash from the past



It's amazing how the smell or taste can bring back a flood of memories.Nearly every vacation my family had when I was growing up had a special food memory. There were french fries with vinegar on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, chicken pot pies in colonial Williamsburg and Monte Cristo sandwiches at Disney World. With just one taste, I'm instantly transported back to my childhood.

This summer, while running errands with my two hungry children, we stopped by Mally's Bagels and Grits for a quick lunch. I ordered the children their usual chicken fingers, and spotted a Monte Cristo sandwich on the menu for me. It had been years since I'd sampled the combination of bread, ham and Swiss dipped in egg and sauteed like French toast, sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with a side of strawberry preserves for dipping.

But Mally's version was different than the sandwich of my youth. Instead of dipping the whole sandwich in the egg batter, the ham and cheese were layered between slices of freshly prepared French toast. The sandwich was wonderful, and one bite sent me back to Disney's Main Street U.S.A. My son, Tripp, moved his chicken fingers aside and downed the other half of my sandwich.

On the way home, Tripp asked me if I'd make him that French toast sandwich soon. Recipes for Monte Cristo sandwiches abound, but I'd never bothered because of the mess involved in dipping the sandwiches in the eggs.

In recreating Monte Cristos at home, I turned to frozen French toast.

The package of frozen French toast I found at my supermarket came with six slices of toast, enough for three sandwiches.

The frozen toast is layered with sliced deli ham and Swiss cheese, topped with another piece of toast and is baked for 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the toast heated through. The sandwiches also can be prepared by toasting the French toast according the package directions and heating the ham and cheese in the microwave until the cheese is melted. Layer the ingredients, slice and serve.

Monte Cristo sandwiches can be an unusual centerpiece for a sandwich supper on busy evening, or a special breakfast or brunch treat. In fact, since we came up with such a quick and easy way to prepare them, Tripp has had a Monte Cristo for breakfast nearly every day.

Monte Cristo Sandwiches

2 slices frozen French toast

2 slices smoked ham

1 slice Swiss cheese

powdered sugar, for garnish

strawberry preserves, for dipping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place one piece of French toast on a baking sheet. Top with the ham, Swiss and remaining piece of French toast. Bake 15 minutes, until toast is heated through and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with strawberry preserves, if desired.

Makes 1 sandwich.

Karin Calloway is a Web chef for Viking Range Corp. (www.vikingrange.com) and a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. You can write her in care of Newsroom, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, Ga. 30913. Or send her an email to karingca@aol.com.