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Oui. It was a French sort of day. The weather — sunny with a hint of chill in the air — and a visit to my local farmers market reminded me of walking through the streets of Rennes, France, and strolling through le Marché des Lices. Every Saturday morning, you will find men, women and families browsing and shopping at France’s second largest open-air market with colorful stalls of over 300 vendors.

After going through the market, my ritual is to sit at one of the outdoor restaurants in the center, sipping cidre and satisfying my hunger with a croque monsieur or madame – iconic French baked ham and cheese sandwiches. The madame version includes a fried egg on top, adding more creamy goodness from the soft, yellow yolk.

Our marker is much smaller, but nonetheless filled with color and variety. Today I purchased some eggs, big, plump heirloom tomatoes, fresh ciabatta and two varieties of Swiss cheese: baby and smoked. I stopped at the grocers to buy some Stella Artois cidre to go along with my dinner plan: croque madame. I’ve made croque monsieur countless times but have never made the madame.

Hubby prefers a less runny egg, so his didn’t look as pretty as mine, nor did he have the runny yolk that added more “sauce-like” texture. That’s okay.

Think “eggs Benedict meets grilled cheese à la française.” Your mouth will thank you for it.

croque madameCroque Madame

Start with the croque monsieur recipe. Then follow these instructions:

What you need:

  • 1 tbs butter
  • 4 eggs
  • Fleur de sel (French sea salt) and freshly ground pepper

What you do:

  • Melt 1 tbs butter in nonstick skillet over moderate heat.
  • Crack eggs into skillet and and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cover and fry eggs until whites are just set and yolks are still runny, about 3 min.
  • Top sandwich with fried egg and serve immediately.
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