The classic croque-madame consists of ham and cheese which is laid onto aslice of toasted bread, this is topped with bechamel sauce and once lightly grilled a fried egg sit on top as the crowning glory.
These muffins, inspired by the wonderful Rachel Khoo, were far more interesting and fun having been baked in a muffin pan. Sliced bread is laid within a muffin pan hollow, before adding a vegetarian ham substitute, egg, bechamel sauce and topping it all with a grating of mature cheese before popping into the oven for a few short minutes.
At the time of the original bake back in November, both Mr E & I both commented that asparagus would make a fantastic addition to these little dudes. I mean, just think of slightly salty ham (or faux ham), rich egg and verdant green asparagus all housed together in a wonderful baked muffin with bechamel sauce mingling the flavours and adding a touch of creaminess to the affair! We all know how often asparagus is paired with ham and egg, and the reason for that is because the flavours simply work.
I'm so glad I made that little note to try asparagus in these individual croque-madame muffins. It's so delicious. Not only does the nutrition of asparagus bring extra goodness to this lunch (being high in vitamins C, K and folate), it also adds a wonderful flash of colour as well as bringing extra flavour. These savoury bakes are super quick to pull together and result in a scrumptious, healthy and filling lunch which is very transportable and as such lend themselves to being a great addition to packed lunches for school and work. They'd also be good for picnics or tucked away in a rucksack when re-fuelling is needed on a long countryside walk, or simply enjoy them at home with a simple green salad.
So, here's how to make Croque Madame Muffins with Asparagus.
Asparagus works beautifully in these vegetarian croque madame muffins alongside the faux ham, egg & cheese. Their portable shape makes them a perfect snack for picnics, packed lunchs as well as a light meal.
Hands on time: 10 - 15 mins Cook time: 12 - 18 mins Yield: 3 - serves 3 as a light lunch
- 6 Asparagus Spears
- 3 Thick Slices Bread, we used shop bought wholemeal
- Vegetable / Sunflower Oil
- 25g Butter, unsalted
- 1 tbsp Plain Flour
- 150ml Milk (warmed)
- 3 Eggs
- 3 slices Quorn style Ham
- Mature Cheddar
5. Make bechamel sauce. Place the butter into a small pan and set it over a medium heat. Once it has melted make the roux by adding the flour and mixing together with a wooden spoon. It will form a smooth paste. Cook this gently for a minute or so being careful not to colour the roux. Slowly add the warmed milk, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. Season. Keep cooking the sauce and gradually it will start to thicken. Remove it from the heat and set aside. 6. Fill the muffin cases. Add a slice of the Quorn style ham to the muffin hollows lined with bread, you will probably need to fold it in half or quarters. Place two spear tips and a third of the sliced asparagus discs into each of the muffins. Break the egg shell in half and dispose of about half of the egg white (the muffin case will over flow if the whole egg is used). Gently add the yolk and remaining white into the muffin case. Add a dessert spoonful of the white sauce. Top with a grating of mature cheddar cheese.7. Bake. Place the muffin tray in the pre-heated oven and bake for around 12 to 18 minutes depending upon how firm you like your egg (we baked ours for 14 minutes). Remove from the oven and set onto a cooling rack.Enjoy!
Notes: a) Consider making some meringues with the remaining egg white. Alternatively place the unused egg white into an airtight container and freeze ready for using another day.
b) Our asparagus tips stood proud in the assembled muffin, but we found that the tips very slightly over cooked this way. To avoid this, either cover the tips with a little tin foil or simply keep the whole asparagus spear encased beneath the layer of egg and white sauce.