Party Time

Who doesn’t love a good Reuben sandwich?  What a combination. A flavorful dressing spread on pumpernickel or rye bread and topped with layers of corned beef, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese. It’s definitely over the top when grilled  until toasted and  the cheese is melted.

Here’s a Reuben riff that brings it into the realm of mass production for entertaining and game days.  It’s an open-faced sandwich that can be prepped ahead and run under the broiler for a last minute fix.Mini Reubens

My chief hang-up on the Reuben has always been the sandwich spread, with a definite thumbs down on sweet ones, like Thousand Island and most Russian dressings.  A simple solution is to go with a straight forward, unadulterated combination of mayonnaise and sriracha with a little minced green onion for interest.

For maximum compatibility, serve these tasty morsels with sour dill pickles and crunchy sweet potato chips.

Open-Faced Mini Reubens

1 loaf cocktail rye or pumpernickel bread
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
1 green onion, minced
3/4 pound thinly sliced corned beef
1-1/2 cups sauerkraut, rinse and drain well
3/4 pound sliced Swiss cheese
Garnish:  ½ cup chopped dill pickle or gherkins


  1. For dressing: blend the mayonnaise and other ingredients and set aside.
  2. Preheat broiler. Set rack about 6” from top.
  3. Warm the sauerkraut. Slice the corned beef into 1-1/2” strips to fold neatly across the rye. Cut the Swiss cheese slices into quarters.
  4. Arrange cocktail rye slices on a baking sheet. Spread each slice liberally with a heaping teaspoon of dressing. Fold the corned beef in 2-3 layers over the bread. Drape a forkful of sauerkraut across the corned beef. Cover the sauerkraut with 2 pieces of Swiss cheese.
  5. Run the open-faced Reubens under the broiler for about 3 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Sprinkle with chopped pickle if desired and serve warm. Yield: 36 or more pieces



Sunday Brunch with Croque Madames

Sunday brunch was on my mind, something easy… and different.  Friends would be stopping by for a quick bite before it got too hot, then we would head up to the Hill Country for a hike.

First, I considered croque monsieur, a fancy grilled ham and cheese sandwich on steroids.  In France it is frequently grilled in butter, then finished off with béchamel sauce and more cheese.

Since we would still be within breakfast range, I settled on its counterpart, the croque madame, which is further embellished with a fried egg.  Certainly not your standard breakfast fare, but I rationalized we would be getting plenty of exercise and would surely walk this off.  So if not now, when?crroque mad cut

I had a delicious loaf of mild Swedish rye which would work beautifully with the ham and Gruyere cheese. I passed on the idea of buttering and grilling the sandwiches—far too rich—instead it would go directly into the oven.  I started by toasting the bread slices, since the béchamel sauce could soften the bread into a soggy mess. There was little left to do but assemble the sandwiches and place them on a baking sheet, ready to finish once guests arrived.croque sand

Before popping the croque madames in the oven, I liberally spread the tops with béchamel sauce and added a healthy dusting of grated cheese.  When they were thoroughly heated, about 5 minutes, I ran them under the broiler until they were bubbly and toasted.

Meanwhile, I quickly fried the eggs then momentarily covered them with a lid, ready and waiting to crown the croque madames when removed from the oven.  Of course, there was plenty of fresh fruit and more peach chutney (see previous post).

Croque Madamecroque mad


  • 8 slices sandwich bread, ½” slices, crusts trimmed if hard (I used a mild Swedish rye)
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ lb Black Forest ham, thinly sliced
  • 12 oz grated Gruyere cheese, (3 cups), divided
  •  4 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp butter, or more

Béchamel Sauce

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups milk, warmed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Prepare sauce: In small saucepan melt butter, add flour, and stir for about 1 minute to cook the flour;  slowly add the milk, whisking to form a smooth thick sauce.  Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg and remove from heat.   Stir in ½ cup of the grated Gruyere until melted.
  3. Lay out the bread slices on baking sheet lined with foil and toast bread on both sides, about 5 minutes.
  4. Spread one side of the bread with a light coating of Dijon. On 4 of the slices layer on equal slices of the ham, sprinkle with cheese, and top with the second slice of bread faced with Dijon. Spoon the béchamel sauce over the top, allowing some to drizzle down the sides and then sprinkle with more cheese.
  5. Bake until heated through, 5-10 minutes, and switch to broil. Run under the broiler to toast until golden brown, about 3 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile heat medium size skillet to medium heat and add butter. When it is bubbling, drop in the eggs and fry according to preference. Remove sandwiches from broiler, top each with an egg and serve.  Serves 4.

How to Fry an Egg 

Place a skillet over medium heat. Add a teaspoon of butter per egg,  and allow it to sizzle. Crack the egg into the pan and allow the white to cook until it becomes white and set.

Basted:  Spoon some of the butter/oil over the yolk to set it and change its color to a lighter pink shade.

Sunny Side Up:  When the egg white begins to set add a teaspoon of water to the pan, cover it with a lid to create enough steam to set and change the yolk to a lighter pink color.

Over Easy/Over Hard:  For over easy, when white begins to hold its shape, turn the egg over with a spatula and cook a minute longer.  For over hard, break the yolk before turning and allow the yolk to cook until well-done.