Roasted Mushroom Toastie
Roasting mushrooms gives them a great, meaty texture that is perfect for this toastie. This takes more time, but - trust us - the flavour is far more intense.
100g chestnut (cremini) mushrooms, quartered
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 slices of sourdough bread, buttered on one side
100g mixed grated cheese
handful of fresh parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 200?C/gas mark 6. Put the quartered mushrooms in a roasting dish with the garlic and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste, mix to coat and roast in the oven for 20 minutes, giving them a little shake halfway through. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly. Place the bread slices buttered side down and sprinkle the grated cheese over one slice, followed by 1? tablespoons of the mushrooms; there should be enough to cover the bread and ensure you get mushroom in every bite (save any left over for another use). Add parsley before closing the sandwich and cooking using your preferred method (see below).
The goal when making any toastie is to make sure you have an even, golden, buttery crust and a gooey pile of melted cheese in the centre. When adding other fillings, they also need to be heated through. If you get the heat wrong, you could be left with a burnt, unmelted or soggy toastie.
Panini Press / George Foreman
Place the prepared sandwich in the grill and cook on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, depending on the strength of your machine. The good thing about panini presses is that they are generally easy to check for ?toastie readiness?. We prefer flat plates (they're easier to clean), but ridged plates also work just as well, and give you a slightly crunchier toastie. All breads work well in the panini machine.
There are only certain types of bread that work in this machine, and a white or brown standard sliced loaf would be our only suggestion. The machine can either deliver nostalgic wonders, or result in molten cheese explosions and soggy crusts.
Always use pre-softened butter on the outside of the bread to avoid any rips in the bread. Don't overfill your sandwiches if you're using this cooking method, as the machine does restrict how much filling you can fit inside your toastie. Make up your toastie as per the recipe and then carefully place inside your toastie machine. Close the clip and leave to toast for 4-5 minutes. The sandwich is ready when the bread has crisped up into two beautiful triangle pockets. Leave to cool for a while before taking your first bite; the steam inside the toastie could lead to serious injury.
You'll need two heavy-duty baking trays. Heat the first tray (the bottom) in an oven preheated to 180?C/gas mark 4, upside down as it's the bottom of the tray that will be used to put the sandwiches on. All the sandwiches need to be ready and prepped on the side as, once the preheated tray comes out, they need to be placed on it quickly. Depending on the size of your tray, you could get a number of toasties out at the same time this way. Place the sandwiches on the bottom tray, stick another tray on top, the right way up, so that the toasties are weighed down, and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, depending on your fillings. You should have evenly cooked sandwiches, all ready at the same time to feed your awaiting guests.
Simple and easy. Place your desired toastie in the toaster bag and follow the bag instructions. We recommend using for classic cheese toasties.
Buttering the Bread
We use a tiny amount of butter on the outside of our toasties. Our cheese blend has a decent fat content so we don't want our toasties to be greasy and cloying. By using a scant buttering, we assure you that you will get a golden buttery crust without any of the excess grease. Unsalted butter is our recommended choice.
What We Use: Grill and Meat Press
To cook the sandwiches on the stall we use a flat-top grill (plancha), with some traditional meat presses. These can be purchased online (we had ours shipped in from the US) and they cook bacon, steak and other meat really well. These presses can also be used instead of the spatula in the frying pan method below.
Our Favourite At-Home Method: Frying Pan and Weight
When making a single toastie, or a few for friends, we would recommend the frying pan method. Everyone has a frying pan (we hope), and all you require is a spatula and some patience.
Heat your frying pan to a medium heat and place your toastie in the dry pan. Either push down gently with a spatula, or use a saucepan (or any other weight) to hold the toastie down. This ensures an even cook with melted cheese in the middle. Depending on the fillings, the toastie should take about 3 minutes a side.
Extracted from Grill My Cheese by Nisha Patel & Nishma Chauhan (Quadrille, approx €14). Photography - Martin Poole.