Like many others, we’re soaking in the, er, clean waters of abstinence. One benefit, however, is that if you’re passionate about cooking it makes the food take centre stage even more.
And since New Year’s Day, I’ve been thrilled that certain creations, hastily thrown together in the evening, have worked better than I would have hoped. Highlights? A fine leek and prosecco risotto (using leftover NYE booze); a cosy salmon and butternut squash curry; and a hearty pan-fry of cabbage, bacon, walnuts and stilton, a cross between a warm salad and a light stew.
But nothing has scaled the heights of last Saturday’s lunch of cheese on toast. Following a “focussed” January morning – visits to Regis Road recycling, the Kentish Town Road charity shops, and Talacre to dispose of the tree – there was very little in the fridge. And then I remembered a simple recipe from Valentine Warner’s Good Table cookbook that I’d been wanting to try for ages.
I freestyled with the ingredients suggested, throwing in a stilton that had lingered in the fridge since Xmas, and a half eaten tub of olives mixed with those tiny strips of marinated red peppers. I used wholegrain rather than the recommended English mustard. And I didn’t add Worcestershire sauce or a chopped red onion, but feel free if you have them handy.
The combination of salty anchovy, mature cheddar, strong, creamy, stilton and pungent mustard bubbling under a grill is wonderful: unctuous and richly savoury. And the addition of mayonnaise means the texture is smooth and luxurious rather than rubbery. I didn’t even use a good loaf, just a few slices of old brown bread, nothing special, and the edges were a bit burnt. Yet no matter: this twist on a classic was one of our meals so far this year. Really.
70g mature cheddar
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
2 tablespoons Hellman’s
2 or 4 slices of brown bread (depending on how thick you like the cheese)
A tin of drained anchovies
Black olives (or a tub of mixed olives with red peppers)
There’s very little method. Grate the cheddar and mix with crumbled stilton, mustard and mayonnaise. Smear on lightly cooked toast, lay anchovies across in strips and add the halved olives. Grill until bubbling. Eat, preferably without a wide-eyed Jack Russell staring at you from the floor.
How do you make cheese on toast? And do you have a secret ingredient?