As a young teenager growing up, we used to go to a restaurant called Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour. Now if you know Farrell’s you know they are very well-known for their wonderful ice cream concoctions. Two such items are The Trough or The Zoo, where they run around and ring bells and sirens when they deliver them to your table. While most children love the idea of such mountains of ice cream and all the hoopla that go with it, this was not why I loved Farrell’s. Now don’t get me wrong, I love ice cream, but my eyes were set upon something that my young culinary heart thought was even a bigger treat.
While most kids were excitedly waiting to order ice cream, I could not wait to order my Monte Cristo Sandwich! 🙂 Layers of ham and swiss cheese on thick slices of bread that is then dipped in an egg batter and deep-fried! It is then dusted with powdered sugar and served with strawberry preserves. My idea of heaven on a plate! I have not had a Monte Cristo in many years and have really been really craving one! So last week-end while trying to decide on brunch for me and my daughter, I had the idea to make a Monte Cristo Casserole. We were quite happy with the results and I now have a new dish that we will be frequently rotating on our menu!
Monte Cristo Casserole
8 slices thick bread, cut in cubes
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
8 oz. ham, diced
1 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (you can use what ever blend of cheeses you like)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat eggs well, mix in cream, syrup and vanilla and mix well. Pour eggs over bread cubes and toss well. Let bread sit for 10 to 15 minutes to absorb egg mixture. Spray an 8×8 inch pan with non-stick. Place 1/2 of bread in pan. Top with ham and 1 cup of cheese. Then top with rest of bread. Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Sprinkle top of casserole with powdered sugar. You can serve as is or with preserves or syrup. Great with fresh fruit too! 🙂