Having out of town visitors is one of life's great joys. Okay, let me rephrase that, sometimes having out of town visitors can be one of life's great joys. I know some people think that having a houseguest is nothing short of torture, and some houseguests can be tortuous, but by and large I think it's a lot of fun. If said houseguests happen to be good friends, are adventruous, like to laugh, and understand that you will nod off to sleep even mid sentence after 9pm, then you're all set for a really nice visit.
Friends of ours were here from Nepal. They came to the "big city" for a break from the daily adventure that is Kathmandu. They marvelled at our ability to drink water from the tap, walk on sidewalks, and the orderliness of daily life. They have only lived in Nepal for 9 months, and while I'm really proud of the way they have adjusted to their new jobs and life, I totally get their need for a break from it.
Our last morning together we met up with some other friends downtown at PS Cafe for breakfast. The restuarant had a great vibe, the goodies in the bakery case were beyond tempting and the coffee good. It was really hard to make a decision on what to order, Banana Pancakes, Eggs Benedict, or the Big English Breakfast to name a few. I settled on the Croque Madame: Ham, Ementhal cheese, Bechamel Sauce toasted brown under the broiler with a fried egg on top for good measure. The picture I took of the sandwich blows, but the taste was stellar!
Croque Madame for Croque Star Friends
8 slices good quality bread such as Pain de Campagne
4 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
12 oz sliced ham
6 ounces of Ementhal cheese grated
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 shallot minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 ½ cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper
4 large eggs
Room temperature butter and olive oil
Begin with the Béchamel sauce. In a medium sized saucepan melt the butter over medium high heat. When the butter begins to bubble add the minced shallot and sauté for 2 minutes to soften. Add the flour and stir for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk, bring to a boil and cook until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and season to taste with the salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
Preheat your broiler, and then set aside a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Working quickly butter one side of each slice of bread and sauté until lightly browned on one side. Remove the bread to the baking sheet placing it toasted side down. Spread one teaspoon of mustard on 4 slices of the bread, top each with 3 ounces of ham, and then divide the Ementhal cheese equally on top of the ham. Top the ham and cheese with the other slice of bread. Spoon the Béchamel sauce over the sandwiches, sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan cheese and place under the broiler until the cheese and the Béchamel sauce begins to bubble and brown, about 5-7 minutes.
Meanwhile in a sauté pan over medium high heat melt 1 tablespoon of butter and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot crack the eggs into the pan and then season with salt and pepper. When the whites are opaque carefully flip the eggs and cook to your liking on the other side.
Remove the sandwiches from the oven and top with the fried egg before serving