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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, July 26, 2017 1:00 am

French toast-style creation an easy meal option

SARA MOULTON | Associated Press

One time many years ago, I was riffling through my grandmother Ruth's box of handwritten recipe cards when I pulled up short at the sight of the title of this recipe for Cheese Sandwich Souffle. Souffle? Fancy! But reading the details, I quickly understood this item was nothing more or less than the wedding of a ham-and-cheese sandwich and some French toast.

But that didn't make it a souffle. It required no separating of eggs, nor beating egg whites. Once I made the recipe, however, the title didn't seem like such a stretch. Fresh out of the oven, these sandwiches have puffed up in a very souffle-ish way. Similarly, they boast the moistness and airiness of a souffle.

But what I especially loved about the recipe was how ridiculously easy it is to prepare, making it the ideal candidate for a weeknight meal. Preparing this dish is so simple, and it will be even more attractive once the school year kicks in. Just know that you'll have to plan ahead a bit; the sandwiches need to soak in the egg/milk mixture for an hour before you pop them into the oven.

This recipe can be customized in all sorts of ways. You can swap the ham for smoked turkey or prosciutto, and you can use pretty much any cheese. You can make it vegetarian by using hearty vegetables instead of meat. Want to make a slimmer version? Use low-fat cheese and non-fat milk.

Cheese Sandwich Souffle

Butter for buttering the baking pan

8 slices homemade-style white or whole-wheat bread, crusts removed

1/4 pound thinly sliced cheese (Gruyere, cheddar, provolone, mozzarella, et cetera)

2 ounces thinly sliced boiled ham, prosciutto or smoked turkey

3 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon table salt

2 cups whole milk

In a lightly buttered 8-inch-square baking dish, arrange 4 slices of the bread flat on the bottom, trimming the slices if necessary to fit snuggly in one layer. Cover each slice with one-fourth of the cheese and one-fourth of the meat and top each one with another slice of bread to form a sandwich.

In a bowl beat the eggs lightly with the salt, add the milk and beat until combined well. Pour the mixture over the sandwiches, cover and chill 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the sandwiches on the middle shelf of the oven uncovered until they are browned around the edges and just set in the center, about 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer a baked sandwich to each of 4 plates and serve right away. Makes 4 servings.