Happy “Croque Madames” for All Ages — in 25 minutes.

I recently read an article in the Huffington Post from a new Mama of two taking it easy on herself in a constant pursuit to lose the “baby weight.” Her words rang true to this new-ish Mama of two and in the spirit of happy gastronomy, I am back to cooking more than kale salads.  Yay!

This quick, simple little recipe makes my whole household happy and is a fun weekend breakfast treat.  Or lunch.  Or even dinner with a big side salad.

Croque Madames:

Finished deliciousness.

Finished deliciousness.

You will need:

  • 1 loaf pre-sliced bread (your choice)
  • Eggs
  • Shaved Gruyere cheese (amount to taste) or Cheddar if you prefer that
  • Thick ham steak cubed (amount to taste)
  • Butter (1 stick, softened)
  • Kosher salt & fresh cracked Pepper
  • 1 non-stick cupcake tin
  • 1 fat rolling pin (think a broom handle or wider)
Ingredients

Ingredients

I’ve adapted this recipe from a few sources and made it far more healthy without sacrificing flavor.  You can also make this ‘sandwich’ for one, two or 12 people.  Very flexible and DIVINE.  But for four Croque Madames, here goes:

Preheat oven to 350’F.

Cut the crusts off eight slices of bread.  Roll the bread flat with your rolling pin.  Julia Child once waxed poetic on the proper girth of the rolling pin and your pin should be as wide, if not wider, than a sturdy broom stick. The scrawny sticks may save counter space but were clearly not meant to sumptuously roll out savory doughs or in this case, flatten your store bought bread into something more tender.

Anni helps me roll out the bread.

Anni helps roll out the bread.

So.  Take each slice of bread and lather lots of good quality butter onto EACH side (repeat after me: real butter is good for you!)  Then smush it into the cupcake tin slots, two slices per slot.  There is no proper way to do this and it will look sort of awkward. Just be sure each well is covered by buttery bread so the rest of the ingredients stay nicely tucked up inside.

Sprinkle in a few chunks of your nicely cubed ham steak into the bottom of each bread-smushed-cupcake-well.  Then sprinkle in a bit of cheese over the ham (like a large pinch).

Crack one egg into each one.  Eyeball it and if the egg is too big, hold back on some of the egg whites.  It should look like this (below). A side note: You can see that I rather unceremoniously dumped all extra egg whites into one well for one plain baked egg…

Baby croque madames in progress.

Baby croque madames in progress.

Take as much shredded Gruyere as your little Croques can handle and cover the egg yolks.  I like sprinkling some sea salt and fresh pepper over the top of the Cheese.

Ready for the oven. In 15 minutes, breakfast will be very delicious.

Ready for the oven. In 15 minutes, breakfast will be very delicious.

Slide your tray into the upper-middle shelf of your oven and bake untouched for 15 minutes.  If you want to hard cook your eggs (but really why would you want to?) leave the tray in for 17 minutes.  If you like your eggs more on the runny side, opt for 14 minutes exactly and the yolk will then run fabulously down melted Gruyere, ham and buttered toast…

Remove from oven and let sit about one minute before serving.  They go superbly well with Champagne — as does anything salty — but coffee and grapefruit juice works too.

Happy morning friends!