While I do have a recipe for this french lunch time snack of a bread muffin cup with a cheesy egg filling- to share today, I also have some news. The reason for my absence after my last post.
Two weeks back I lost my grandmother. Even though she was old and had not been keeping that well for years, the news of the death was unexpected. I was to visit her on the 20th and had my travel planned and tickets booked accordingly. Now I wish I had first come to her and then gone to visit my brother, but I guess that’s how it was supposed to be.
My grandmother loved and took care of all of us the best she could, and believe me she could.
For her, feeding us was the best way to show her affection, and she thought us polishing off everything she made was the best way we could return ours. And since most of my summer vacations during my school years were spent at my grandparents place, in two months of our stay it was a norm that my brother and I would at the least gain 10 kgs; the highest for me being about 18 kgs and and an increase in jean size from a respectable 27 to a not so healthy 36 inches. No doubt my grand mother was a great cook. I had plans during this visit to learn from her her chocolate ice cream (made from bottle gourd/ giya ), her sesame seed potatoes and her lip-smacking pickles. She had given me the recipes for all on the phone, but I thought I will ask her to show me once as well. But I guess that too was not meant to be.
Her recipe for dal paranthas is my go-to recipe when I can not think of anything better to make for V and me. And it will always remind me of her now.
Although growing up, my grandmother showed a slight preference towards my elder brother, once I was in college both of us became closer. The 6 months I spent trying to set up a baking venture, living at my grandparents place before I got married, got the two of us even more close. So when I got married she did not like that I was staying so far away and would constantly be worried and checking whether I was happy in the US, telling me that I have gone too far away.
At 82, that’s still her actual hair color, having never colored her hair in her lifetime.
And though we are all sad about her demise and still not used to her absence, the person most affected is my grandfather who had been married to her for 65 years. My grandmother would fight a lot with my grandfather for small things, but we all knew they really cared and loved each other. For any small decision, my grandfather would consult my grandmom, and now when he tries do that he is reminded that she is no longer there to give him her opinion. He is heartbroken and don’t think anything will ever change that. How do you get used to not having the person you woke up to the last 65 years of your life next to you anymore. And at his age, the pain is even more. We try our best to divert his mind, but at this age you need your companion of 65 years next to you, and not just a memory of that person.
We are getting back to our routine and helping my grandfather get back to his, or at least get him busy enough. I am staying with him for a few days and the other day I decided to bake something for him. My grandfather is a foodie, and loves trying out new things. So when I saw the recipe for these “muffins” on TV the other day on the show Rachel Khoo’s Little Paris Kitchen, I thought he might enjoy it.
I adapted Rachel’s recipe that uses ham in it to make a vegetable one since we were still not cooking meat at home. I do not know if the french would still allow me to call it a Croque Madame Muffin but the bottom line is that it tastes good and is pretty easy to put together, so I am posting it.
This version of Croque Madame with a mustardy, bechamel sauce and cheesy herbed egg mixture is perfect for a lazy brunch on the weekend. Do try it and let me know how it goes!
(Click here for the link to the episode this recipe is inspired from)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp all purpose flour ( I used whole wheat flour both times and did not find any issues in taste, so feel free to make the substitution)
- ¾ cup plus 1 tbsp milk, lukewarm
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 3 tbsp cup Gruyère (I used cheddar), grated
- Salt and pepper
- 9 large slices white bread, no crusts
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 6 small eggs, slightly beaten
- ½ cup sliced mushrooms
- ¼ cup finely chopped tomatoes
- ¼ cup finely chopped red onions
- 2 tbsp finely chopped basil
- 1 cup cheese (used a mix of cheddar and mozzarella)
- 1 tsp mixed dried herbs
- 1-2 tsp finely chopped green chillies
- Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Do not let it brown.
- Add in the flour and stir it quickly into the butter.
- Cook and stir the flour-butter mixture over medium heat till the flour is cooked and has turned slightly darker in color.
- Pour in just a few tablespoons of the hot milk, just enough to moisten the flour and butter mixture. Stir thoroughly to loosen up the thick flour mixture.
- Gradually add the rest of the milk to the loosened flour mixture, whisking constantly.
- Add the mustard and nutmeg, and simmer gently for 8-10 minutes, whisking frequently to stop the sauce burning on the bottom of the pan.
- Once the sauce thickens and has the consistency of a thick tomato sauce, take it off the heat. Add the cheese (keep a little for the garnish) and taste for seasoning. If the sauce is too thick, add a little more milk. If it’s lumpy, pass it through a sieve.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Flatten the slices of bread with a rolling pin, then brush each slice on both sides with melted butter. This step is important to prevent the bread from getting soggy from the egg mixture.
- Line a 9-cup muffin tin with the slices of bread. (You can see the video link in the post above)
- To the beaten eggs, add the basil and dried herbs and green chillies. Season with salt and pepper.
- Divide the vegetables between the muffin cups followed by the eggs. I put a tbsp of mushrooms and a tsp each of tomatoes and onions in each cup.
- Put 2 tablespoons cheese sauce on top of each egg, then sprinkle with a little cheese and pepper. Bake for 15–20 minutes or till the cheese becomes brown. Serve immediately.
- Next time add bacon bits to the filling as well. I bet they will taste great!