Notes from the kitchen | Spring ‘Croque’

My ‘croque’ is not really a croque at all: it isn’t a sandwich, since there is only one slice of bread, and has no béchamel, in case that is what distinguishes a croque from a toastie. My croque is a grilled tartine; a quick Sunday lunch when it is nearly two pm, there are four children to feed, and this is what can be found in the fridge.

The secret weapon here is a bunch of early wild garlic. I have nothing against plain ham and cheese, but will always try to add something: tomatoes roasted with garlic (even better than fresh), grilled fennel, kimchi (!!) if I had any.

Add an egg and it becomes ‘Madame’ — I have always found the rationale for this nomenclature slightly dubious, but the egg does make it better, and more of a complete lunch. Twenty minutes tops.

Spring croque recipe
Quantities to be multiplied as needed

Slice of bread
Strong mustard
Ham, cooked or dry-cured
Olive oil
A few leaves of wild garlic
Cheese, preferably Gruyère
Egg (optional)

Turn on the oven grill.

Toast the bread (I used a toaster, but this can also be done in the oven). Smear a very thin layer of mustard over the bread, place a slice of ham on top.

In a small frying pan, briefly ‘wilt’ the wild garlic in a drop of oil.

Place the cooked wild garlic over the ham. Scatter generously with grated cheese.

Place under the grill in the oven and cook until the cheese is melted, bubbly, and golden.

Optionally, fry an egg in the pan in which you cooked the garlic, until the white is just set and crispy at the edges, yolk still runny. Slide the egg on top of the melted cheese.

Serve immediately with a green salad.

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