The Toasted Sandwich Handbook, Part One
I had been out of the game for a good long while. But last Wednesday night I got out our new second-hand toastie maker and gave it a spin (not literally).
Section One (Enthusiasm & Nostalgia): “The first thing that came back to me on re-entering the toastie sphere was the smell. Obviously, this was after I had plugged in the toastie machine, performed pre-assembly and assembly on my sandwiches and popped them in the machine. But the smell, the same smell no matter what kind of toastie you are making, is unique… When I was little, toasted sanwiches (ham and cheese) meant that it was Sunday night, that I had had a bath and that Dr Who was on the telly (if I remember it right)… Years later they were a staple foodstuff whilst I was at University (cheese with Uncle Ben’s sweet and sour sauce) and in the first house I lived in in Manchester I armed myself with a camera and a load of ingredients and set out to make a toasted sandwich recipe book that I never finished. It included a creme egg toastie (which I did make) and a Christmas dinner one (which I never got round to)… Now, in our own flat, the smell is the same as the toastie sizzles and the smoke rises from the machine. As a nod to the passing years and some kind of growing up I make what I call ‘A Toastie Supper’ which is a toastie (cashew, pesto and cheese) with a salad at the side (rocket, pepper, apple, more cashews)… And then you bite in to them, cautiously at first – contents may be hot, ingredients may have moved in transit… The taste, that basic toastie taste always seems to be a happy constant, no matter the ingredients – almost as if the toastie machine itself (no, all toastie machines themselves) have this same power to infuse any sandwich with that special toastie umami… Nibble first around the edges… I always like the bit where errant cheese may have bubbled and seeped out of the side and then cooked and fused into a hardened yellow crust like escaped lava… Which reminds me of the most dangerous toastie experience I have ever had. The most dangerous toastie experience I have ever had was a foolhardy purchase of a baked bean toastie from a shop in Ramsbottom. The toastie came in a paper bag, and as any experienced toastie eater will tell you if you’re tackling that kind of heat you need to have a plate and possibly a knife and fork handy… But I escaped without burning myself and retained my love of toasties, which I will continue to write about on another day…”
Section Two (Instructions): “A brief description of how to make a cheese, pesto and cashew nut toastie followed by a summary of its delights… Take two slices of bread and butter on the outsides (as per usual), cut thin slices of cheese (standard cheddar or whatever you have in the fridge, nothing too soft or distinctive) and place them on the other side of the bread. Now chop cashew nuts (plain, not roasted or salted) in half and place them across the cheese in a pattern of your choice. Glob pesto across, but not too much. Place in the toastie maker and allow to cook until such time as it is cooked… I have always found that general advice with regards handling toastie machines is to do so with caution but I believe that the best way to approach a toastie machine is firmly, safely and with respect. You may have to wrestle your sandwich from the machine but if you spend some time with it and build up a good understanding, you will come away unharmed… Anyway… Since inventing this toastie I have made it for a number of people, all of whom have praised it (they may just have been being nice). Here is a selection of comments: “It tastes a bit like ravioli,” Rach. I find that the pesto melts nicely into the cheese and the cashew nuts add a bit of crunch to the toastie experience… Try it for yourself and you’ll see.”