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updated: 10/26/2011 1:19 PM

Sauce key to French-style sandwich

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    Alicia Ross/Desperation DinnersYou needn't have s


I thought I knew what a good ham-and-cheese sandwich was all about until I tasted my first croque monsieur. If you're not familiar with the classic French toasted ham-and-cheese sandwich, then you are in for a real treat.

What makes this sandwich so special, you ask? The secret is in the sauce. Let me explain just how simple this sauce is. Using a technique from Barbara Kafka, author of 1998's "Microwave Gourmet" (William Morrow), I've perfected a small batch of bechamel sauce that is so easy you won't believe it.

That's right! You make the sauce in the microwave, and it's as easy as pushing a few buttons. Including measuring and cooking, the whole small batch bechamel takes under five minutes.

That makes a Parisian-style ham and cheese a 1-2-3 endeavor: Make the sauce, assemble the sandwich and run it under the broiler. That's it. Now that's the kind of French classic I can handle.

Suggested menu: Parisian Ham-and-Cheese Sandwich (Croque Monsieur) with baked french fries and a simple salad.

• Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross are co-authors of "Desperation Dinners!" Write them at Desperation Dinners, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106, or More at the Desperation Dinners Web site,

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