Many moons ago, when I was still a cook at Nordy’s and long before I returned to college, I took a vacation in Cali and hung out with my now-lost friend Lisa (alas, that I let that wonderful person go!). Most of the vacation consisted of her showing me around, but when we went to Disneyland, the roles were reversed. One place we had to go was The Blue Bayou, a restaurant in the heart of New Orleans Square—incidentally, one of my all-time favorite restaurants.
On that visit, I had this sandwich for lunch that was insanely rich, deep fried, and gooey. I got a stomachache, but boy, was that heaven.
Yesterday, I was perusing through a cookbook, looking for ways to spice up my summer fare, and to get myself basically back to a vegetarian lifestyle as much as I can afford. Of course, I will still do red and white meats, until I have emptied my freezer, but I have decided it’s time to get back to the primarily vegetarian diet I had for many years of my life.
Anyway, while going through that book, I came across a vegetarian version of what that sandwich must surely have been a decadent spin on. Since I have leftover ham still in my freezer, and since I remembered the tastiness of that sandwich years ago, I decided to make a go of it for a breakfast sammy. It was pretty good, though not deep fried, certainly nowhere as rich or overwhelming as the Blue Bayou one, and not vegetarian like the cookbook’s.
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1/3 c nonfat milk (lowfat okay)
- 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
- 2 slices whole wheat or multi-grain sandwich bread
- 3 oz. sliced ham
- 2 oz. shredded Mozzarella cheese (provolone, Muenster, and Monterey Jack would be good, too)
- powdered sugar
Mix together egg, milk, and zest. Set aside. Heat a nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat.
Evenly distribute the cheese on one slice of bread, cover with ham, then place second slice of bread on top. You don’t want any cheese peeking out the edges. Dip the sandwich in egg mixture, making sure to soak both sides.
Spray the skillet with pan spray, then cook sandwich until toasty brown on both sides.
Generously sprinkle powdered sugar over both sides of sandwich, and serve immediately (It will get soggy if you wait).
If you want to modify it as a croque madame, serve it topped with a fried egg. I prefer the former.
Now this is the vegetarian version I will try, soon. I don’t know whether I’d eat this for breakfast, though.
- substitute 4 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped, for the ham
- omit the powdered sugar
I think this version would make an excellent lunch, especially if served with something like tabbouli or a cucumber salad of some sort.