Monday, 29 March 2004

Staple diet

The increasing sophistication of our tastes in food and the development of such esoteric areas of research as molecular gastronomy sometimes distract us from the high place that simple and homely fare should hold in our affection.
To counterbalance the influence of the likes of Heston Blumenthal, I suggest a revival of interest in an easily prepared dish whose whole charm lies in its simplicity and adaptability. It can be eaten alone, but also provides a steady base for more interesting flavours, and can appear without being incongruous at any of the three meals.

English Toast
Take three or four slices (not too thin) of one day-old white loaf (other ages and colours will do). Taking care not to lose the centres of the slices, place each in turn into a 250-volt 5-amp toaster set at No. 3. Your toaster may be fitted with an automatic setting which will eject the toast when done; if not, you will have to judge by waiting for a wisp of blue smoke to rise (the toast should, by now, be a beautiful golden brown; if it is black, start again). While still hot, remove the crusts with a bread knife, halve, and stack in a special rack. Serve warm with butter. Variations can be introduced by adding such widely contrasting tastes as marmalade or plum and apple jam.


Fred said...

Your recipe brings back memories of wartime suppers. Electric toasting machines hadn't been invented then so our mother used to make the "toast" by hand, impaling a (hand-sliced) piece of bread on a fork and holding it to the fire until it was brown, or black.
We children gathered round to watch and there were peals of merry laughter whenever Mum dropped a piece in the fire, though this usually meant that my little brother had to go without.
We didn't have jam, of course, but sometimes there was a bit of grease left in the pan after our week's meat ration had been fried, and we would scrape it out and smear it on our toast.

Anonymous said...

You could have mentioned another recipe which transforms this simple dish into a feast fit for a king.
After carrying out the procedure you describe, open a tin of beans in tomato sauce (available in all good supermarkets), heat them in a small saucepan and pour a generous portion over each slice. (Be careful not to cut yourself on the sharp edge of the tin lid!).
For a touch of real luxury you can put a little margarine on the toast but remember to do this BEFORE adding the beans.
Betty Fairshields (prop., Betty's Dainty Teas)

Froog said...

Crusts off, indeed! Enough of this prissy affectation!

If you must have something for your bird table, I suggest removing a modest triangle from one corner.

Gervase said...

No, froog, you don't understand. In those days few of us had teeth so the crusts would have hurt our gums. But there was no waste—the children used to love dipping the crusts in water and sucking them; often it was all they had for tea.

Bird table? We used to DREAM of having a bird table, we could have caught the birds and eaten them.