Croque Madame – Grilled Cheese, Ham, and Egg Sandwich

Croque Madame Grilled Cheese Sandwich Egg

A Croque Madame is a grilled cheese and smoked ham sandwich topped with a sunny side up egg. I used Black Forest ham, Gruyère cheese, and whole wheat sourdough bread because I want to be known as That Guy who makes a mean sandwich.

Within minutes, this mini-sandwich was reduced to traces of errant crumbs and fingertip grease. No egg yolk dribbled and wasted.

Skip on the fried egg you sissy and you end up with a Croque Monsieur. Who knew that eggs can define gender? Oh, nevermind.

The sudden need to make such a sandwich came from an unexpected source. You may have heard that expressing random thoughts in 140 characters or less is what the cool kids are doing right now. You’re not limited to digital words, though. You can also tweet links to photos of all things mundane. Such as dinner.

Which leads to this awe-inspiring photo of Croque Madame served with tempura green beans. Does that look good or what?

Now go make your own or visit the Paramount Room if you’re in the neighborhood.

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Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

Sourdough Whole Wheat Bread Sliced

This whole wheat sourdough recipe takes about 3 days from refreshing your starter to baking. It takes that long because the shaped loaves are refrigerated and allowed to rise slowly for about 16 hours. The dough fully develops its flavor and sourness during this time.

My fridge keeps a temperature of 40°F so adjust the final proofing time accordingly, anywhere from 12 to 18 hours, depending on your numbers.

The bread is equal parts white and whole wheat flour. Since the previous sourdough bread post was all white, a 100% whole wheat recipe seems like the next logical step, isn’t it? Not much luck with that, though. The loaves either fall flat or turn into bricks, but we’ll see what happens. Can you recommend any 100% whole wheat sourdough recipes?

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Sourdough Italian-Style French Bread

Sourdough Italian-Style French Bread Sliced

Do you notice how these pane francese photos seem to be taken at a peculiar angle? How they show most of the loaf surface area but not quite the entire picture? There’s a reason for that. The hidden cropped areas is where the bread exploded like bats out of a cave.

The original recipe specifically advises against steaming and scoring the loaves. Doing either or both would’ve helped the loaves expand in a more controlled manner, but I’m not complaining. It still came out with a fairly open crumb somehow. These slices of toasted crispness and sour chewiness are just begging to be dipped in extra-virgin olive oil.

I went with the lengthier end of the suggested 2 to 3 hours for the final proof. I should’ve let the dough ferment for another hour or so, almost to the point of collapse and overproofing, to prevent said explosions. As with most recipes that rely on the unpredictability of sourdough, your mileage may vary.

By the way, if this post elicits that deja vu feeling (I can only hope that I have readers of the regular persuasion), I previously posted a more slender version of pane francese. I like to call it loaves of ciabatta in baguette form.

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Cremini Mushroom Toast

Cremini Mushroom Toast Recipe Top

Mushroom toasts are a great way to use up stale bread. It could also serve as a bold top half for your version of The World’s Greatest Sandwich or as a worthy excuse to fire up your George Foreman grill or panini press*.

I don’t really care for any of that, though.

I like making these because they look cool. Mushroom cross-sections seared with grill marks are somehow aesthetically appealing to me. Come to think of it, anything with grill marks causes shameless culinary swooning within me. Perhaps it’s a guy thing.

The taste, as good as can be expected from the spartan ingredient list of crusty bread, mushrooms, and extra virgin olive oil, comes second. I hope there’s nothing wrong with admitting that.

* I used a cast iron press because I’m broke, have zero counter space, and avoid kitchen electronics whenever possible.

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Hazelnut, Fig, Fennel Seed, and Rosemary Bread

Hazelnut Fig Fennel Seed and Rosemary Bread

These loaves of hazelnut and fig bread are loaded in every sense, with such senses being texture and nutrition, for starters. You’d be correct in thinking that it will smell wonderful as it bakes. Even as it rises, the raw dough is already redolent with the aroma of fennel seeds, fresh rosemary, and roasted hazelnuts.

The bread itself is 50% whole wheat, so in addition to the figs, the loaves end up packed with fiber and nutrients. With the added health benefits, this combination of sweet figs and roasted hazelnuts is slowly becoming my fruit and nut bread of choice.

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