Surely you remember Toast Toppers from your childhood? I suppose they were, in a funny sort of way, a culinary revolution at the time, though some of them were pretty revolting. And then, of course, there was the famous Breville sandwich toaster, a gadget which all the family could have fun with – until, of course, it was relegated to the back of the cupboard to collect dust along with the asparagus cooker and ice-cream machine.
Snacks on toast are a wonderful thing, however, and you don't have to limit yourself to baked beans and cheese. There will be a lot of things that you already have at hand that you can convert into a toast topping with very little effort. Why not conduct a little study of your fridge and larder sometime – I guarantee that you will be quite surprised at what you can knock up from the most meagre of ingredients.
French toast with blackberries and crème fraîche
Making French toast is so easy, yet we don't often make the effort to do it for a quick, tasty breakfast or brunch. You can either top it with sweet or savoury ingredients, from various fruits to mushrooms and bacon. You can also make this classic snack with brioche bread, white bread or even a light fruit bread; it all depends on what topping you feel like using.
4 slices of brioche (or bread)
2 medium eggs, beaten
2tbsp caster sugar
A few drops of vanilla essence
4tbsp crème fraîche
Whisk the eggs, sugar, milk and vanilla together, lay the brioche on a deep tray and pour the egg mixture over and leave for 20 minutes. Heat the butter in a preferably non-stick frying pan until foaming, carefully remove the brioche from the tin with a fish slice and cook for about 2 minutes on each side until golden. To serve, transfer on to serving plates, spoon the crème fraîche on top and scatter the blackberries over.
Smoked salmon with horseradish butter on toast
This can be served as a canapé-type snack with drinks or you can choose to make a more substantial snack or starter. I, of course, use my own smoked salmon which you can buy in Selfridges food hall (selfridges.com). I cut my salmon thicker than the usual thinly sliced smoked salmon – that way you taste both the smoke and the fish itself.
8 or 12 finger-sized slices of sourdough bread
A tablespoon of softened butter
tbsp horseradish sauce
8 or 12 slices of smoked salmon
Toast the bread on both sides; meanwhile, mix the butter and horseradish together and spread generously on the toast. Lay the salmon on the toast and serve immediately.
Girolles and streaky bacon on toast
We are well into mushroom season now and if you are a bit of a forager you will have access to all sorts of interesting fungi over the next few months. Mushrooms on toast make a great brunch dish or a simple but luxurious dinner party starter. I always have a packet of Denhay streaky bacon in my fridge for snacks like this.
6 slices of Denhay (or other) streaky bacon, cut into cm dice
4 medium shallots, peeled, halved and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1tbsp olive oil
120g butter, plus a little more if necessary
300-400g girolles or other wild mushrooms, cleaned but not washed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1tbsp chopped parsley
4 slices of farmhouse loaf, 1cm thick
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and then gently cook the bacon for a couple of minutes on a low heat.
Add the shallots and garlic and continue cooking for another minute or so. Add the butter and the girolles and season to taste.
Cook on a medium heat for a few minutes, turning the mushrooms in the pan as they are cooking, until they are tender; then stir in the chopped parsley and more butter if you wish.
Meanwhile, toast the bread on both sides, place on to warmed serving plates and spoon the mushrooms and butter on top.
Coronation chicken on toast
I think that it must be time for a bit of a coronation chicken revival. Constance Spry is credited with inventing the dish for the Coronation of the Queen back in 1953, and when the dish is made with a little tender loving care, it can make a delicious cold main course that is a million miles away from some of the ghastly versions that you might remember from buffet dinners during the Sixties and Seventies. Back then, coronation chicken tended to be made from pre-cooked chicken doused with a dubious sauce made from mayonnaise and curry powder. This version, I think, goes particularly well on toast.
8 free-range chicken thighs, boned, skinned
500ml chicken stock
small onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 small, mild red chilli, chopped
1tsp ground cumin
20g root ginger, scraped and grated
1tsp ground turmeric
4-5 curry leaves
A small piece of cinnamon stick
The black seeds from 3 cardamom pods
tsp fenugreek seeds
tsp black mustard seeds
1tbsp vegetable or corn oil
3-4tbsp good-quality mayonnaise
1tbsp Greek yoghurt
1tbsp chopped coriander
1tbsp mango chutney, chopped if very chunky
4 slices of bloomer-type bread
Heat the vegetable oil in a pan and gently cook the onion, garlic, chilli and all the spices for 3-4 minutes with a lid on without colouring the onions. Add the stock and the chicken thighs; simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the thighs and put to one side. Simmer the cooking liquid until it reduces to 3-4 tablespoons then blend in a liquidiser; leave to cool. Mix with the mayonnaise, yoghurt, coriander and chutney and season. Cut the chicken into chunks and mix with the sauce and leave for a couple of hours in the fridge. Toast the bread and spoon the chicken on top.Reuse content