About a year ago I began making Nigella's croque monsieur bake. This is basically French toast sandwiches with ham, mustard, and cheese inside, and in my opinion it's the ultimate in breakfast items you can assemble the night before and pop in the oven the next morning. Whenever my parents come over for the weekend, I make this for them and receive raves, especially from Dad. I honestly do not know if Jeff likes this dish or not; he will eat it, but he never comments about it one way or the other. He may secretly hate it. I fully intend to keep making it, though, because I love eating it and take great satisfaction in assembling it, letting it set in the refrigerator overnight, and waking up in the morning knowing that breakfast is already taken care of.
Here's one thing Jeff will say about croque monsieur: loosely translated, the name means Mr. Crunchy, and that is hilarious. We have two jokes about Mr. Crunchy.
K: [sees some vaguely foreign word or item, such as a Chevrolet Monte Carlo] Hey, you know what "Monte Carlo" means?
J: [does not wish to encourage this]
K: MISTER CRUNCHY! [hysterical, gasping laughter often leading to abdominal pain and tears]
[in the San Diego Zoo monkey area last July]
K: YAY MONKEYS
J: YAY MONKEYS [takes many photos]
Both: [notice a sign with a truly awesome picture of one of the monkeys looking right at the camera]
Both: [die laughing at the earnest monkey picture]
J: [takes a photo of the picture, hoping to pass it off as his own later]
Both: [go insane looking at the preview of this picture now on Jeff's camera]
J: His name...is Mr. Crunchy.
Both: [hysterical, gasping laughter leading to abdominal pain and tears]
Monkeys in area: [alienated]
And now, the recipe.
- 6 slices multigrain brown bread
- 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
- 4 slices of cheddar or gruyere cheese (I've tried doubling the cheese but it ends up way too cheesy)
- enough ham to make three good sandwiches
- 6 eggs
- 1 t. kosher salt
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- a handful of grated cheddar/gruyere cheese
- a few shakes of Worchestershire sauce
1. Basically, you will be making three ham and cheese sandwiches with mustard. As a single woman with no children, I always found this idea delightfully novel. Who makes three whole sandwiches all at the same time? How fun! Spread mustard on all six slices of bread. Divide the four pieces of cheese evenly over three slices of bread; I find that the cheese I buy is usually square, but the bread is more rectangular and larger, hence the extra slice that you can tear up and distribute. Top with ham. If you're looking for a deluxe Mr. Crunchy, add extra ham, but don't go nuts.
2. Once you've made your three sandwiches, cut two of them into triangles and cram them into a baking dish. Cut the last sandwich into whatever shapes you need to fill out the rest of the baking dish. It should be tight. I use one that's about 8x10" and 2" high, and I'm often left with about 1/4 of a sandwich that I just stand there and eat.
3. Beat the eggs, salt, and milk together and pour over the sandwiches.
4. Cover with plastic wrap, or if your baking dish has its own lid, use that. Set it in the refrigerator overnight (or it can go longer, like 24 hours if you need it to).
5. In the morning, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
6. Take Mr. Crunchy out of the refrigerator, remove the plastic or lid, and top with extra grated cheese and a few sprinkles of Worchestershire sauce.
7. Bake for 25 minutes. It will be puffy and impressive-looking, and the house will smell like breakfast. Eat happily, receiving compliments from your family but not necessarily your husband, who for some reason has taken only a small portion. Whatever, Mr. Crunchy is awesome.
[Above: Mr. Crunchy.]