The first dinner I actually managed to get on the table since giving birth to Evangeline comes courtesy of Nigellla Lawson’s fabulous cookbook Nigella Express. We’ve come a long way since those first few days with E, when we survived on plates of salami, cheese and apples, eaten haphazardly, whenever time allowed – we manage a fairly well-balanced combination of ordering food in and cooking, but for the most part it is S who accomplishes the actual cooking and cleaning up while I handle nursing and bedtime.
Now, though, a mere seven weeks later, E can be counted on reliably for two things: a pretty serious morning nap and a hatred deep and true for tummy time. The rest of her day can vary greatly but a solid nap after her first feed of the day is, currently, a fact of her existence and woe is the person who interrupts it. I use this time to catch up on email, read blogs, pick up the house and, two days ago, begin preparing meals that can be made in the morning and popped in the oven hours later. Currently, I am working my way through the recipes in Lawson’s cookbook that can be prepared ahead of time and the first recipe I tried was a tremendous hit in our household. I can’t recommend highly enough, for ease of preparation and deliciousness, The Croque Monsieur Bake. S. had three helpings – a rarity for him.
6 slices ready-sliced multigrain brown bread
1/3 cup dijon mustard
4 oz Gruyere cheese (note: I used cheddar)
3 slices ham
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons grated cheddar
good sprinkling of worcestershire sauce
1. Spread the mustard on the bread slices and make sandwiches with the fine slices of cheese and ham. Put each slice of cheese against the mustardy bread, and the ham between them. Make the sandwich and cut each one in half, making two triangles.
2. Squish the sandwiches into a baking dish approximately 1 1/2 by 8 1/4 inches and 2 1/4 inches deep.
3. Beat together eggs, salt and milk and then pour this over the sandwiches tightly packed in the dish.
4. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge overnight.
5. Next morning, preheat the oven to 400 F and take the dish out of the fridge, removing the plastic wrap.
6. Sprinkle over the grated cheese and Worcestershire sauce and bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
*This recipe is considered a brunch recipe but I found it made a perfectly acceptable and delicious dinner!