Once your kitchen is host to a chewy, hole-y, crusty/crunchy sourdough loaf, a whole world of quick snacks opens up.
This is the realm of ON TOAST*. A humble realm. A homely one. A big fat slice of toast is never pretentious. Instead we might remember a 'toasting-forks-by-the-fire' moment or a 'wobbly-propped-up-by-the-counter-at-midnight' slice. Familiar & comforting, like being wrapped in a warm blanket.
In short, toast is with us along our life journey, sometimes neglected, but remaining familiar. It's a meal in less than 10 minutes. A meal from your fridge, using up what you have and saving energy for other things. Made with sourdough it feels healthy in your stomach, sustaining you for the remainder of the day.
These recipes are by intention inexact. They're meant as a basis for inspiration, to use up what you have - it would be somewhat excessive to have to shop for a recipe for toast. Flex and adapt.
The way you have your toast finished is very personal. I even know some mad fools who like their's cold. My favourite is soft in the middle, and golden-to-just caught on the edge. For this you need a toaster that gets pretty hot, rather than slowly drying as it toasts. And if, like me, you like yours piping hot, be speedy getting it onto the plate.
Here are three 'on toast' ideas to get you started.
SPRING MEETS AUTUMN - ON TOAST
Two seasons meet - freshly made toast spread with a mix of ricotta and feta cheese, topped with a bed of fresh, peppery infant sprouts and a final layer of savoury/tangy grilled autumn fruits.
The first layer is ricotta and Feta cheese mixed half and half, whipped together. If you don't have ricotta, whip the Feta with some plain yoghurt. The idea is to retain the bite of the Feta, but soften it with something else. Cream would even serve. Otherwise use a curd or soft white cheese.
I bought some peppery, feisty mixed sprouts from GROW BRISTOL, who seem to be doing some great things to provide locally grown alternatives to resource heavy imported salad crops. Their products actually taste of something - sharp green heat and soft pea shoot flavours - and are fresh. But its also easy to sprout some junior-school style in your kitchen on damp blotting paper. The mix I used included leek shoots (pictured above), pea, broccoli, sunflower, radish, coriander and the good old mustard sprout. Lacking these use up some salad, watercress or rocket leaves.
Search the fruit bowl for some aged, neglected fruit. I found a small bunch of white grapes that had an air of Lucozade about them and a small plum. You could use a wizened apple or peach, or even a pear. A fig would be luscious.
Slice the larger fruits, leave the smaller ones whole. Put the fruit on a square of kitchen foil and dribble over some balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper and perhaps a few twigs of fresh thyme. I leave any stalks or stones intact because I like chewing them off like some sort of fruitarian medieval knight.
Grill until little charred blisters form and the fruit is bubbling and oozing juice.
Assemble on freshly toasted sourdough, first cheese, then sprouts, then fruit. Dribble the juice that's collected in the foil over the top and eat. More salt and pepper may be needed. As you will.
CURD CHEESE, OLIVE OIL AND FRESH THYME
This one will take about 2 minutes flat. Just your beautiful toasted sourdough, spread with curd cheese (or ricotta and Feta, or soft white cheese), with a dribble of olive oil, fresh thyme and pepper.
ANCHOVY BUTTER AND GRILLED RED PEPPERS
Supercharged savoury anchovy butter is a perfect foil for sweet and smoky red peppers. If you happen to have a little charcoal fire going, even better. But otherwise just char a red pepper under a grill on a piece of kitchen foil, turning regularly, until soft. When it's blistered all over, take it out and wrap the foil around it to exclude the air while you make the anchovy butter.
Take what we used to call an ounce of soft-ish butter (25g now - more or less) and, with a fork, squash into it a couple of rinsed anchovies and a teaspoon of rinsed capers. Add pepper and a little lemon zest (not too much or it will become pudding-y).
Unwrap the pepper and slip off the glassy skin. Remove seeds and slice. Keep any juice that has collected in the foil.
Butter some freshly toasted sourdough with the anchovy butter, top with the pepper slices, dribble over any pepper juice and add some chopped parsley.
* I love toast... and perhaps that's why we named our brand TOAST after it.