Philip’s Famous Toasties

Through Covid lockdowns, Philip served sublime cheese toasties for lunch. Like all masters, he claims there’s nothing to it.

Toast sliced bread
Ham or salami
Tomato (seasoned with salt and pepper)
Avocado
Gherkin
Tomato Relish
Grated cheese

Toast one side of bread under oven grill.

Meantime, slice meat and vegetables.

Remove browned bread from oven. On untoasted side, place sliced meat, tomato, avocado and gherkin topped with tomato relish. Cover with grated cheese, return to oven and grill till golden brown.

Tomato Relish

Forget sliced bread. Pre-chopped frozen onions are the best invention. Available from most supermarkets, they’ve rescued me from hours of knife-wielding tears.

1.5 kg vine ripened tomatoes, peels (see notes)
Half a bag of frozen, pre-chopped onions (equivalent to four fresh chopped onions)
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups malt vinegar
1 cup dried currants
2 cups brown sugar (firmly packed)
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tablespoon plain flour
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon mustard powder

Place tomatoes and onion in a bowl. Cover with salt and stand overnight at room temperature Next day, drain liquid, then place tomato mixture in a plan with 1 cup vinegar. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add sugar and chilli, then simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.

Mix flour, curry and mustard powder with remaining 1 cup vinegar, then add to pan. Cook 3-4 minutes until thickened. Pour into sterilized jars while still hot.

How to Peel Tomatoes

Score a cross in the base, then cover with boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain and refresh in iced water, then peel.

There’s nothing like the silence around a dinner table when people are savouring something you’ve cooked for them. In that sacred moment, memories are created, and connections extend across generations.

Pumpkin Soup

Like most of my recipes, this one’s pretty forgiving. You can adjust quantities to suit your tastebuds. I use home grown chicken stock (from the carcass and remains of a chicken roast dinner, covered in water, seasoned, and boiled for 2 hours). You can just as easily use ready-made chicken stock.

1 kg pumpkin chopped roughly into 6-8 pieces, skin on, seeds removed.
3 cups chicken stock
Frozen chopped onions (again!), the equivalent of two fresh onions
One tsp (or more) fresh ginger, peeled.
4 garlic cloves
½ tsp grated nutmeg
Place pumpkin in large saucepan, skin side down with the stock and seasonings.
Cover and boil briskly until the centre of each piece is soft. (don’t overcook, as pumpkin can lose
colour and flavour).
Lift pumpkin pieces on to a board and transfer the rest into a food processor. Cut or peel skin off
pumpkin, add the flesh to the food processor and puree.
Serve with a blob of cream topped with grated nutmeg or freshly chopped herbs.

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