Monday, January 20, 2014

Comfy British Toast

Let's face it, the British are not known for their cuisine. Although, I love a good meal of fish and chips, bangers and mash, beef wellington, Yorkshire puddings, or a lovely English trifle, I am still baffled by the British's love affair with toast. In America, toast is an afterthought, something to add to a plate of bacon and eggs, and strictly for breakfast only. However, in Britain, toast is a revered treat any time of day. In fact, one of their most beloved treats is "beans on toast." Yes, at first thought you may think, "Wow, they must have a special recipe for the beans!" No, they don't. They prefer the English version of Heinz Beans with Tomato Sauce in the blue can. I kid you not. Literally, they open a can and dump it on toast! Sometimes cheese, Worcestershire sauce, or the occasional slather of Marmite (the powerful and salty yeast extract made as a byproduct of brewing beer with the slogan "you either love it or hate it") is used to elevate this "treat," but come on....canned beans on a piece of toast? Although I realize that this is a cheap comfort food for college students and the like (i.e., Karl Pilkington), akin to what Ramen noodles are here in the US, I am still surprised by what else they like to put on toast:
  • kippers (smoked herring) with buttered toast and maybe poached eggs,
  • Spaghetti O's (yes, canned spaghetti a la Chef Boyardee),
  • peanut butter and pickles,
  • canned tomatoes,
  • Patum Peperium (type of anchovy paste known as "The Gentlemen's Relish"),
  • Spam,
  • beef drippings or brown gravy,
  • buttered and sprinkled with flavored Jell-O powder,
  • mushy peas,
  • Cheese Whiz and condensed cream of chicken or mushroom soup,
  • Buttered and sprinkled with chocolate breakfast powder (my kids may like that one!), and
  • toast! (Yes, there is an old recipe for "Mrs. Beeton's toast sandwich" - a piece of dry toast between two pieces of buttered bread with salt and pepper to taste!) 
While I haven't tried these "foreign" combinations and cannot comment on their palatableness, I do have a favorite "on toast" combination, Chloe Scott's "Ultimate Mushrooms on Toast." This fabulous recipe, which I found on Metro UK, starts with toasted sourdough and topped with a combination of fresh and dried mushrooms sauteed with onion, garlic, and sherry, poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, and a sprinkle of chopped chives. The combination is utterly sublime! In fact, my mouth is watering just thinking about it! Maybe the British are on to something? Maybe I was wrong to judge prematurely? Maybe I should start looking for Heinz beans in the blue can? Oh well, until then, I have this wonderful recipe!

Ultimate Mushrooms on Toast 

Serves 2

4 slices sourdough bread
4 eggs, poached
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 white onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fino sherry (Chloe recommends Tio Pepe)
2-3 sprigs thyme leaves
1 handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
200 grams chestnut mushrooms, sliced (or whatever variety you can find)
80 grams freshly picked mushrooms, chopped or 35 grams rehydrated wild mushrooms
Chopped chives, for garnish

For the hollandaise: (Or make blender hollandaise, which is what I should have done because my sauce split! It still tasted great, though!) 
1 egg
70 grams butter
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and black pepper to taste

If you're rehydrating your wild mushrooms, place them in a bowl of hot water 30 minutes before starting. Place the chopped onion in a mug of milk for 30 minutes.

Rub four slices of sourdough with 1 crushed garlic clove and drizzle each side with a little olive oil. Heat a griddle pan or frying pan on high heat and press the bread on to the pan so it toasts until charred a little for a smoky taste.

Drain the onion from the milk. In a frying pan, heat a little more olive oil and fry the onion and remaining two garlic cloves. Once soft, add the mushrooms. Stir in the sherry and let it simmer very gently. If it starts to dry out, add 1 tablespoon or so of the mushroom stock left after rehydrating the dried ones or a little water. To finish, add the parsley and thyme then season with salt and pepper to taste.

If you are not making blender hollandaise: Make a cheat's hollandaise by melting 70 grams butter in a saucepan then pour it quickly into a cup. Whisk the egg in the same pan off the heat. Then, whisking constantly, slowly pour the butter back into the egg mixture. Put it back on a low heat until it goes creamy but doesn't scramble. If it starts to overcook, remove from the heat again. Once it's amalgamated, squeeze in the lemon and salt and pepper to taste at the end.

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Break four eggs into small cups and slip them one at a time into the boiling water. The water must be rolling. Don't stir it, just slip them in as gently as possible. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the eggs are poached. Remove them with a slotted spoon.

Place two pieces of griddled sourdough on each plate then top each slice with the mushrooms and a poached egg and drizzle over the hollandaise sauce. Garnish with black pepper and some chives. Serve.


1 comment:

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