My modern sweet and creamy take on the classic croque-madame.

The croque-madame is probably the king queen of all sandwiches (excluding, of course, hamburgers, Texas pulled pork sandwiches, Smørrebrød, Philly cheesesteak from that deli I stumble into after trivia night at the Brooklyn Tavern, any version of the hotdog, taco, or burrito, or Po’ boys).  Ok, so, it’s not the king queen per say, but it’s up there — like, the thing has egg and cheese on the outside — those qualities do not go unnoticed in my rankings.  (wait!! Bánh mì!  How did I forget Bánh mì!?  Can I go back and change my answer?)  Nevertheless, I always think a classic can be improved upon.  My inspiration for this “twist” on a classic comes from one of my favorite things to bring to or serve at a party.  Baked Brie with fig preserves and slivered almonds.  There isn’t a soul on this earth who doesn’t absolutely love to dig a cracker into the buttery crust of a chunk of molten cheese (except maybe vegans and the lactose-intolerant, who can just stop reading now, you aren’t, and I say this with all due respect, my “audience”).  So I took the Gruyère out of the inside of the traditional croque-madame recipe and replaced it with a creamy brie, spread on some fig preserves, and spent some otherwise productive time thinking of a name for it.

Brie and Fig Croque-Madam (Croque-Mademoiselle):

makes four sandwiches

8 slices of bread
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/12 cups milk
4 tablespoons fig preserves
12 oz. Brie, sliced
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 slices baked ham
2 tablespoons olive oil

In a saucepan, heat the butter and whisk in the flour to create a roux.  Add the milk and turn up the heat (do not boil) while whisking in the Parmesan cheese until you have a thick sauce (add more milk or flour to adjust the thickness, it should be the consistency of school glue, yummm).  Butter one side of each slice of bread and heat a cast iron skillet to medium-high.  On four of the slices (work on parchment or wax paper or this can get messy) spread the Dijon mustard and some cheese sauce on the non-buttered side of the bread (you’ll want to use a little more than half of the cheese sauce).  On the remaining four slices, spread a tablespoon of the fig preserves (again, on the non-buttered side).  Assemble the sandwiches with a cheese-bread slice, a fig-bread slice, ham and Brie.  Grill the sandwiches in a tablespoon of oil (or butter) in the cast iron skillet until each side is golden brown and crunchy.  Set aside the grilled sandwiches on a baking sheet and turn on your oven to the high broiler setting.  Gently cook four sunny side up eggs, which can be underdone, if you like a runny yolk.  Place a dollop of the cheese sauce on the top of the sandwiches, and gently slide the egg on top.  Brush any remaining cheese sauce on the top of the eggs.  Broil the sandwiches for 1-2 minutes.  Serve with a fork and knife.  I served mine accompanied by a broccoli-pea bisque.

Keto pizza and mock n’ cheese

Keto pizza and mock n’ cheese

Every once in a while I will go on a ketogenic diet for a few weeks.  This, is one of those weeks.  It’s interesting to read up on, can be a bit complicated, but is essentially a diet high in protein and fat, and very low in carbohydrates.  It’s always been fun for me to challenge myself to come up with “keto” versions of meals that I enjoy while on a more traditional diet (I have an a strange idea of fun, yes).  Because it was Friday night, and because I usually have greasy takeout on Fridays, I wanted something that could compare with my usual (pu pu platter for two, for one…and an orange chicken…and a scallion pancake…and a bucket for all this gluttonous shame…and a diet coke).  Pizza and mac n’ cheese – two things that would otherwise be forbidden on this diet due to the crust and the pasta.  My solution, replace the crust and pasta with a very “keto” friendly vegetable, cauliflower.  I present to you, a 12g net carb Friday night treat.

So cheesy


1cup of riced cauliflower
3/4 cup of mozzarella cheese
1 egg
finely chopped garlic
oregano and crushed red peppers

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Rice the cauliflower with a cheese grater, mix in a little less than the 3/4 cup of the cheese, the beaten egg, spices, and garlic (as a general rule of cooking, put garlic in everything).  Spread the mixture on a cookie sheet (I used parchment paper and put it on a baking stone in the oven) so that it looks like a pizza crust, obviously.  Bake that sucker for 15 minutes, and feel free to give it a brush of olive oil to help it brown.  Pull it out, throw on the rest of the cheese and the pepperonis and bake for another 3-5 minutes.  Easy a’cheesy a’pizza pie (say it in a thick Italian accent or your pizza will burn).

Mock n’ cheese (as cheesy as the name, yum):

1 head of cauliflower
1 cup of milk
3/4 cup of mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup of cheddar cheese
1/2 cup of cream cheese
1/4 cup of dijon mustard
1 tsp ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350.  Grate the cheese.  Break the cauliflower into small florets and boil for 5 minutes.  In a separate saucepan heat the milk and stir in the cheeses, the mustard, and the pepper, but put aside a bit of the cheddar.  Eat some of the cheese before putting it back in the fridge.  Drain and pat dry the cauliflower, put it in a baking dish, and top with the rest of the cheddar cheese.  Pull a chair up to the oven window and sit watching the cheese bubble, drooling, for 5-10 minutes.