Tuesday, 4 August 2015

On Toast...

I've written before about my love of things on toast. Since opening Cook House I have been working on my repertoire. It has become a staple menu item, changing topping week to week, depending on what's in season, what I've spotted in books, magazines, or on my travels. I came home from Mallorca with a couple of Sobrasada in my suitcase last week. I'm not entirely sure that's allowed, so don't tell, but that made up last week's toast; the spicy chorizo type paste that is specific to the Balearics spread on hot toast, topped with creamy homemade ricotta, good olive oil and some dressed pea shoots.

We're talking about an open sandwich in basic terms, I find it a lot more interesting than thinking of sandwich fillings however, and find inspiration from around the world. Everyone has their own variation whether it's called a taco, a pizza or pintxo...

These are ideas more than recipes... You're looking for balance; think sweet, salty, bitter and sour and see where you end up... 

Smoked Leeks on Toast with Whipped Feta and Black Sesame

I was inspired by the Trial Shift boys, when they took over Cook House for a pop up event a few months ago; I found them cooking their aubergines in the embers of my stove. Kicking myself that I hadn't thought of using the stove myself (why did I not?!), as soon as they handed the keys back I stuck some leeks into a roaring fire, totally incinerating the outside. When removed and left to cool I then carefully removed all the black outer edges and tore off ribbons of soft sweet smoked leek into a bowl and mixed with a dash of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt.

I served this on toast with feta cheese whipped up with some Greek yoghurt and extra virgin olive oil until it takes on the consistency of cream cheese. Spread onto toast, leeks piled gently on top and scattered with toasted black sesame seeds. The sweet smoky leeks with the salty cheese and toasted nutty sesame is delicious, this is probably my favourite invention so far.

Carrot and Lemon Pâté on Toast with Feta and Pea Shoots

I have been making a carrot, lemon and yoghurt pâté for a while now. I discovered it when I was putting together a vegetarian middle eastern style mezze supper last year. I made tons of different Lavosh crackers topped with different seeds and herbs and wanted lots of tasty colourful dips to go with them.

Chop 500g of carrots into large chunks and roast at 200˚C with about 6 cloves of garlic still in their skins and lots of olive oil until the carrots are soft, about 20 minutes. Then pop the garlic out of their skins and blitz with 2 big spoons of yoghurt the zest and juice of half a lemon and a pinch of salt. It's a lovely sweet dip with a rich hint of roast garlic and sharp lemon.

Sprinkle with crumbled feta or goats cheese, and top with a pile of dressed fresh pea shoots or rocket. The rich sweet pâté is delicious with the sharp salt cheese and fresh shoots.

Whipped Feta on Toast with Pear, Pea Shoots and Toasted Seeds

The whipped feta base mentioned previously is good with lots of toppings, as it's so salty and tart my favourite is something a little bit sweet. I've found a popular menu item to be fresh sliced pear, with pea shoots or rocket and toasted seeds, sometimes hazelnuts or a bit of chopped mint too.

I have tried it with pickled grapes and mint too, delicious; sharp, sweet and tasty. I also tried sliced blood oranges with toasted walnuts, normal oranges would work too, that was a pretty good brunch dish I think...

Or you could try fresh peppery radish with mint, black pepper and ricotta. Or ricotta, slow roast tomatoes and toasted cumin seeds... Or crushed peas and broad beans with lemon, mint and crumbled goats cheese... We're in a good season for lovely fresh toppings so I'll keep working on my repertoire...


  1. This all sounds so yummy and scrumptious, definitely a few good ideas to try out. But I have a quick question about your whipped feta (which I've tasted and think is gorgeous)...can you tell us how is it made? Or is it a secret recipe?

    1. Not at all, if you crumble up a block of feta, regular supermarket size, then add 3 big tablespoons of yoghurt and 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, then whip, either by hand or with an electric whisk!

    2. That's great - thank you so much.


Happy cooking! Let me know if you make any of my recipes, send a picture, and let me know any of your own recipes and tips! Anna x