Monday, 28 September 2009

Breville, Be Gone!

There have been plenty of surreal moments in my life, with images and scenes that will stay in my mind forever. For instance, at a student party I will never forget walking into the living room at 2am and confronting the sight of some strange bloke playing the guitar very badly whilst the sofa behind him was on fire. Then there was the time when I found myself at G-A-Y, busting some serious moves and getting spun around the dance floor by a 6'7 drag queen. This was particularly bizarre as I was under the illusion at the time that it was indie night at The Astoria. And more recently, I was completely thrown when sitting on the floor with the twins one morning. We were watching an engrossing episode of Balamory you see when all of a sudden, who should pop up in Suzy Sweet's kitchen but none other than Keith Floyd himself. I had only just heard about his passing on the news earlier so it was quite unnerving to watch Floyd bounce about the place, throwing meatballs in the air to the beat of Suzie's Cookin'. Perhaps CBeebies saw fit to air that particular episode as a glowing tribute to the great man but it freaked me out I can tell you. The weirdness that day didn't stop there though.

I had arranged to meet Mr Jonathan Brown of Around Britain With A Paunch at St Paul's Cathedral in the afternoon and was running quite late. Once my fellow colleagues finally sauntered back from their lunches, I made a mad dash from the office in the pouring rain, getting thoroughly soaked in the process. When I finally clambered up the slippery steps to the entrance, I found a very dapper and dry Browners standing there grinning from ear to ear with a box under his arm. A box that from it's outside appearance would have originally contained an iron.

"Hi Danny, here's your supper!" he said, still beaming, manically even. I expressed my thanks and then excitedly flipped open the box to inspect it's contents.

The box did in fact contain an iron. I looked up at Jonathan and then back at the iron and then back at Jonathan who by now resembled the proverbial Cheshire Cat. I just looked confused.

Sensing my befuddlement, Jonathan went on to explain "well seeing as you're a fan of Stefan Gates and his gastronaught style of cooking, I thought you could have some fun making a cheese toastie. There's a sandwich in the box wrapped in foil with some pretty good Montgomery Cheddar".

And that's when the penny dropped, my mission was to use the iron as an alternative to the Breville Toaster. Excellent. I should have known better really that the sandwichist would have come up with something like this though. He had also supplied a jar of apple and apricot chutney and a jar of chilli and crab apple jelly, both homemade along with some plums and pears from his garden. For the exchange I took him over to Apostrophe for lunch (where else could it have been really) and caught a quick half hour chatting about the merits of blogging and 'freebies'.

After bidding Mr Brown farewell, I got back to the office, placed the box under my desk and got on with the rest of the day. Yet as evening approached, it was soon time again to start thinking about getting the iron out to cook my toastie and at this point I did start to have some worries. In the end I decided that I would try the experiment at home, partly because I am trying to keep this project under wraps at work and partly because I didn't want my work mates to think I'd gone completely hatstand.

So did it work? Well Jonathan had slathered a fair amount of butter on both sides of the bread as you normally would when making a cheese toastie for a Breville. But I don't think he factored in that I would be making my first attempt at grilling with the iron turned up to full blast. This had near disastrous consequences. As I placed the Hinari Toasty Special down on the bread, there was an immediate loud pop and hiss which just didn't sound right. So I picked the iron up again only to find the sandwich stuck steadfast to the element. My natural reaction was to try and peel the damn thing off and naturally I burned my fingers. So after much profanity and waving of hand in the air, I grabbed a fish slice and managed to wrestle the bread away from the plate. Luckily it wasn't burnt. Much. I then figured that more butter was in order and that the heat should be turned down. I tentatively placed the iron back down and then waited for about a minute. I then picked it up and all looked well, the bread was starting to brown ever so slightly. And so I carried on this process for about 15 minutes, flipping the sandwich over to do the other side and over again and over again. Never before have I paid such attention to 2 slices of bread. In fact, it was quite laborious really. But once I decided that this toastie had reached its zenith, I cut it in two and placed it on a plate and the cheese oozed satisfyingly out. And yes it tasted good, the cheese was indeed nice and mature but unfortunately, my throbbing fingers detracted my attention somewhat. Luckily I had bought a fine bottle of red to raise a glass to Mr Floyd so wasn't in pain for too long.

I will definitely give the Hinari Toasty Special another crack in the future, it just needs some fine tuning methinks. Thanks Jonathan for introducing the 'iron-method' and for the other goodies. Your chutney by the way really hits the spot. Cheers!

Introducing the All New Hinari Toastie Special

Snap, Crackle and Pop

Raising a glass to the finest of television chefs, Mr Floyd


  1. hahaha - great post Dan. That last photo eating off the ironing board is classic well done.
    And well done to Browners for an excellent idea.
    Very entertaining.

  2. Fantastic! I was imagining you toasting it "through" the foil I'd wrapped it in... which would have avoided the burning of the fingers and stickage. I really should have included instructions... but assumed that, as with any household appliance, a proper man would have ignored them anyway! Thanks again for lunch at Apostrophe. And good luck with the next mission.

    P.S. I'm still beaming.

  3. Ha - I am psychic (though I was joking when I suggested an iron).

    Not sure it was worth the effort, mind, but I love the last photo :)

  4. That's brilliant! The stakes are really high now aren't they?!

  5. Inspired method of cooking though pan frying is somewhat faster. A good use for an old iron perhaps....

  6. Dan - I was trying to do 'thoughtful repose' whilst my my fingers were throbbing, don't think it worked.

    Jonathan - Ha! Instructions? What damn instructions!? Erm I was meant heat the sandwich through the foil eh? Still worked a treat!

    Meemalee - You are indeed Mystic Meg. Like I said, the technique needs tweaking. Once I figure out it out (or get proper instructions from Jonathan) I reckon it'll be the way forward for making cheese toasties.

    Kerri - Who knows where it can go from here? Salmon baked in the dishwasher? Fried eggs on car engine? I'm willing to try.

    Goodshoeday - A couple of more practise sessions and I'll take on your pan-fry method anyday. Up for a race?

  7. Ha haaaaaa that's brilliant. I have got to come up with something more than a plate of food, innit?

  8. Oh no, how will I ever top that?

    Must admit though, I assumed you would heat the toastie through the foil...

  9. The Lasting Tribute website has updated its memorial pages to include Keith Floyd.

    It's a respectful memorial to him and somewhere to pay tribute to his life and work, entertaining people and cooking good food.

    EVERY comment is monitored so that nothing offensive or inappropriate is published.

  10. Simply brilliant both of you. hmm the ironing board could become the next must have picnic accessory.