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Published January 20th 2013
Toast is the ultimate convenience food
You've just got in from a long slog at work. You're absolutely shattered and proper cooking is a bit beyond you. You're tempted to resort to takeaway but first you should maybe examine the contents of your bread-bin. For the humble slice of bread (or two) can be a great way to sling together a quick bite. Whether you want more depends on how big an appetite you have. But, at the very least, toast makes a cracking brunch or supper.
Here are my six favourite toasty suggestions. Oh – by the way – you won't find a can of beans in any of them. Way too obvious!
Health recipe: Crushed avocado with sliced tomatoes I like this best with wholemeal or sourdough toast – something a bit chunky to support the ingredients. Toast the bread (one avocado will cover around two slices). Take one nice, ripe avocado, slice it down the middle and remove the stone. Then, simply scoop out the flesh, smooth over the toast and slice some tomatoes for topping. Finish with cracked black pepper. Delicious and healthy.
Little button mushrooms make a delicious toast topping. You can melt a small scraping of butter in a pan, then fry around 10 halved mushrooms in that, although if you're being healthy you can skip the butter, as cooking mushrooms do tend to create their own juices. Flavour with black pepper, a small squeeze of lemon juice and some chopped parsley. Quickly toast your bread – wholemeal is nice with this. Then, no need to butter it – just pour over your mushrooms. 10 little mushrooms should cover around two slices.
Toast recipes: Welsh rarebit soufflé This is a Delia Smith recipe. It's a bit involving for a toastie snack but you can simplify it. Delia starts by melting 10g of butter in a small saucepan over a low heat, blending in 10g of flour and adding six tablespoons of milk gradually. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add one teaspoon of mustard and a dash of Worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper, plus seasoning.
Beat the yolks of two eggs (retaining the whites in a separate bowl), then stir them into the sauce, then beat in 50g grated cheese. Meanwhile, get toasting your bread – under the grill on one side.
Whisk the egg whites until stuff, then fold into the cheese mixture. Spread your untoasted bread sides with the cheese mixture and pop under the grill until golden and puffy – then they're ready to eat.
If you want a quicker version (and this is my humble effort, not Delia's), simply beat the eggs with the mustard, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper, grate in the cheese, top the toast and pop under the grill. It doesn't get as puffy, but it's quick and simple if you're craving sustenance.
Healthy recipe: Pesto and cherry tomatoes on toast Dead simple. Put some cherry tomatoes in a roasting tin (four per toast slice), drizzle with olive oil, seasoning and a couple of teaspoons of dry rosemary and sage. Put in the oven on a low heat – about 150C, 300F for 40 minutes. When they're nearly ready, toast some nice, thick slices of bread. Spread over the pesto – red pepper is nice. Then top with the warm cherry tomatoes.
Brunch recipe: Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, chopped chives and vodka cream. This is the most decadent brekkie you'll ever have! Start with the vodka cream – 50g of whipping cream in a bowl with two teaspoons of vodka. Use an electric whisk to whip the mixture until stiff and set aside. Next, scramble your eggs. Break the eggs into a bowl (one egg per slice of toast), then whisk with a fork.
Melt a small knob of butter in a saucepan over a gentle heat and pour in the eggs. Add one tablespoon of milk per egg, then stir continuously and slowly with a wooden spoon until the eggs start to scramble.
Once the eggs are nearly done, start toasting your bread, add another sliver of butter to the pan and season with cracked black pepper. Spoon on to the toast, top with a strip of smoked salmon, then finish with a quenelle of vodka cream (basically, use two teaspoons to shape the stiff cream into a little oval). Finish with more black pepper.
Healthy recipe: Snappy tuna melt recipe
This recipe comes from The Secret Ingredient by Sally Bee, a healthy food writer who I've been lucky enough to meet!
Toast two slices of nutty wholemeal, then heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over a moderate heat and sauté one clove of crushed garlic, two chopped spring onions and one finely diced bell pepper for about five minutes or until soft.
Add one can of drained tuna, two finely chopped tomatoes and some black pepper and heat through. Put the toast on a baking tray, top with the tuna mixture and scatter over two tablespoons of grated cheese (or Sally suggests sliced avocado, as an alternative). Put under a hot grill for a couple of minutes and serve with salad.
It's quick, simple and healthy but it's also filling – even enough for my man who's currently training for his marathon.