#73 Lady Shaftesbury’s Toasted Cheese

I thought that I’d completely run out of vegetarian recipes until I spotted a whole section in the ‘Cheese and Egg Dishes’ chapter of English Food. This is a dish that I know was popular in Victorian/Edwardian times in Gentleman’s Clubs and the like; it’s essentially a rarebit, but ‘deconstructed’, as trendy chefs would say nowadays. You get a pot of melted cheese and toast soldiers to dip in it. Be warned: this dish comes with a warning from Jane Grigson herself, ‘The quantities seem tiny, but this kind of dish should be eaten in small quantities; unless your family have stomachs of iron, toasted cheese can cause indigestion and nightmares.’ Whatever Griggers. The recipe is supposed to serve 6, but me, Greg and Joff ate the lot.

I do have to warn you, you DO get nightmares: I had totally trippy repetitive dreams all night and hardly got a wink of sleep, and Greg said he had nightmares and anxiety dreams, yet I heard him laughing in his sleep! Weird. I think I’ll conduct a scientific experiment in the future – there’s about six more of this kind of recipe; I’ll get people round, we’ll eat them all, score them, and then keep a dream diary. Thus proving the old wives’ tale as rock-solid fact!

Anyway, here’s the recipe. Divide it between however many people you want. Monitor your dream s though! And don’t eat if prone to sleepwalking.

In a saucepan, gently melt 2 ounces of butter, then, keeping the heat quite low, mix in 7 ounces of good grated Farmhouse Cheddar cheese, 6 tablespoons of cream, 2 large egg yolks, plus salt and pepper. Whilst stirring, get the grill nice and hot and toast a slice of brown bread, which should be buttered afterwards and cut into soldiers. When all the cheese has melted into a thick gloop, pour into ramekins and grill until the tops are browned. Serve immediately with the toast.

#73 Lady Shaftesbury’s Toasted Cheese: 8/10. Really delicious and simple to do. Although, by Jane’s standard, we have iron stomachs, a third is still only a little bit, but and is definitely enough to fill you up. I daren’t work out the amount of calories and saturated fat in this. Oh well, I’ll double my efforts at the gym.

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