The Monte Cristo

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fried food (4)

It’s  County Fair time in So Cal. You may be surprised to hear that L.A . has a County Fair, but it does.  It is pretty standard, complete with roping cows, racing pigs, and competing pies and jams.  Of course there are also Hot Tub races, the Road Rage Rodeo, and the annual Ironic Facial Hair exhibit.

The very best thing about the fair (besides the Zonky) is the cramming my pie hole with a variety of outlandish fried foods. My favorite is the fried Oreo’s, but the fried Twinkies and Snickers are in the top 10. Last year they added fried Coke, which I was totally ready to try, until they told me it was just coke syrup mixed into funnel cake batter. This year they are offering the hilarious fried Slimfast bar.  It’s nice to see some people still have a sense of humor.

So now I have fried food on the brain, and have been looking for something fried to make that wont give me a County Fair tummy ache.  Then, probably because it was Talk Like Pirate Day last week, I remembered the Monte Cristo.   A true California original, it is thought to be a 1950’s American rendition of the French Croque Monsieur.  The Monte Cristo first gained popularity as a standard menu item in several Disneyland restaurants. It is most associated with the Blue Bayou restaurant, which is adjacent to and a part of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.  As with many recipes, the origin of the Monte Cristo is often disputed, and its creation is simultaneously claimed by the scurvy scallywags of the Brown Derby restaurant of Hollywood, and the Hotel Del Coronado of San Diego. Wherever it came from, this crazy sandwich blurs the line between breakfast, lunch, and dessert. You gotta love that! Batter dipped and grilled or deep fried, it is properly dusted with powdered sugar and served with strawberry or raspberry jam, current jelly, or maple syrup. And ya best be warsh’n it down with a pint of grog, unless yer a yellerbelly.


1 egg
1/3 cup milk
2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups vegetable oil
4 slices white sandwich bread
2 TB. butter, softened
1/4 lb. sliced turkey
1/4 lb. sliced Swiss cheese
1/4 lb. sliced ham
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup red current jelly, strawberry or raspberry jam, or maple syrup


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the egg and milk, and whisk together thoroughly. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, and add it to the egg mixture. Stir to combine, then set aside for 10 minutes.
  2.  Fill the frying pan 2” deep with vegetable oil, and place over high heat. Spread the softened butter evenly on one side of each slice of bread. For each sandwich, layer the turkey, cheese and ham between two slices of buttered bread.
  3.  When the oil reaches 375˚F, dip the sandwich into the batter, coating it well, and place it carefully into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side.
  4. Remove fried sandwich from oil and drain on paper towels. Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar and a side of jam or jelly.


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Blackbeard from wikiepdia commons

It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day!  I’ve always enjoyed talking like a pirate, and when I started training for the Navy, I though they would enjoy it too.  I was wrong.  They’re are totally over the whole pirate-speak thing.  Lesson learned.

However, since this is a National Holiday (or should be) today’s recipe is Grog. In the days of naval exploration, getting fresh water was a troublesome matter. What could be carried on board would quickly develop algae, which resulted in a nasty flavor. Beer and wine were commonly added, but the mix still spoiled. (Also, there was the problem of sailors hoarding their rations, then going on a bender.) Some genius decided to experiment with lime juice and spices to improve flavor. The idea caught on, and crews that took these steps were found to be healthier than most. Not until much later did we realize that the added vitamin C from the citrus juice alleviated many health problems, most famously scurvy. (This is where the nickname Limey originated.) Rum mixed with 4 parts water and lime juice became the standard ration in the 1750’s, and remained a daily part of British naval life well into the 20th century.

There is never any Grog in the US Navy. Plenty of nacho cheese, though.

Here’s a recipe for fun.


1/4 cup dark rum
1/4 cup lime juice
2 TB. brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. cardamom
1 grated knuckle of ginger root
2 cloves
4 cups ginger ale


Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. At the boil, reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Cool slightly and strain into mugs.

Evening ration for 4 sailors