Miss Scarlett's guide to Suffolk life: Toast
PUBLISHED: 11:57 15 May 2017 | UPDATED: 11:57 15 May 2017
The musings of Miss Scarlett (aka Sandy Ruddock), imperfect wife, ex-wife, mother, step-mother, godmother, aunt, daughter, sibling, daughter-in-law, friend, boss and entrepreneurial founder of Scarlett & Mustard
Following the faintly ridiculous National Toast Day in February – only the Brits could come up with that one, or perhaps it was one of the large commercial bread companies – the topic of crispy burnt bread has been on our minds both at home and at work, so I wanted to see what Mrs Beeton had to say on the subject.
Astoundingly, she includes a recipe for a Toast Sandwich in her lengthy tome. No wonder there are so many pages. Perhaps she had modern day students in mind as the recipe seems more appropriate for a student kitchen than a recipe for middle class 19th century housewives. It is simply a piece of toast “placed in between two pieces of buttered toast to make a sandwich”. Salt and pepper optional.
Maybe today’s students and Mrs Beeton’s housewives have more in common than you would think, as the latter had not been taught to cook or run a household by their mothers. Their experience of domestic chores was completely different to the previous generation, where the kitchen was a place their mothers rarely ventured, leaving that domain to staff (dream on). I hear that many students today arrive at university woefully unprepared to make even the most simple culinary creations, exploding eggs in the microwave, mushy overcooked pasta and raw chicken being some of the stories reaching my ears. And so the pot noodle was born . . .
Perhaps a copy of Mrs Beeton’s Household Management might be a good idea to weigh down the suitcase of a first time student. It may well be that opposites attract as Colonel Mustard and I have an ongoing battle about which is the best bread for toasting. For me, a thick granary doorstop, or a sourdough or seeded rye from our very own Suffolk bakery, Pump Street in Orford, quite simply the emperor of bakers. I am quietly horrified that for him, a slice of white processed bread, toasted, allowed to cool preferably on a toast rack, then smeared in salted butter creates the perfect version. And perhaps a little home-made bitter orange marmalade on top.
I reckon every single person has a different idea of how they like their toast. A Scarlett & Mustard hamper to the person who describes the version I most want to try. Tweet @MissScarlettGas or email your answers to MissScarlett@scarlettandmustard.co.uk
This leads me on to brunch, which has become the weekend choice for my family. A good opportunity to sit down together, do the general knowledge quiz in the paper with attendant heated discussions, and with the added benefit of only two meals requiring preparation and cooking, therefore cutting down on clearing up by a third.
We like a large platter brimming with bacon – treacle cured (John Hutton Butcher in Earl Soham) and Brundish smoked (Lane Farm) – sausages, black pudding and roasted tomatoes. Sometimes baked beans if we’re feeling that way inclined.
Havensfield eggs are cooked according to preference, with everyone inevitably wanting something different – poached for me, gried for Colonel Mustard, scrambled for the boy and white only for the girl (don’t ask). The dogs as always are unfussy and like theirs any old how, whatever’s left over. Follow this with a good walk to shift all those naughty calories, and the weekend is off to the perfect start.
Top tip for toast
Learn the idiosyncracies of your toaster! Did you know that the numbers on your toaster’s dial represent minutes not degrees of toastiness?
Walk, talk and fork
Walk: Around the Suffolk Show (May 31 & June 1) and cycle around the Suffolk Sunrise (May 7)
Talk: Increasing my blood pressure this month is the totally inappropriate use by large and commercial food giants (you know who I mean) of the word ‘artisan’. Pinched by cynical corporate global giants to increase profits of their subsidiary so-called artisan food businesses they fund purely to gain another foothold in the crowded market, and not to bring truly good food to our homes, this word has lost its integrity and is now one to be avoided by small passionate food producers at all costs. New word required please!
Fork: Visit the Adnams Food Hall, Adnams Beach Eats and Eat Street for delicious ideas and sustenance when at The Suffolk Show this year.
A couple of Miss Scarlett’s toast inspired recipes
Tomato Bruschetta with Scarlett & Mustard Poppy Seed Dressing
Put cherry tomatoes into a baking tray and cover liberally with fabulous Poppy Seed Dressing. Put into a hot oven, 200C for about 15-20 mins or until the tomatoes are very soft and caramelised, and leave to cool a little.
Rub a garlic clove on toasted rustic bread – sourdough, ciabatta or French baguette all work well. Spoon the tomatoes onto the bread, drizzling over some of the juices and chop a little fresh basil over the top.
Delicious as a light lunch served with a watercress salad.
Summer beans on Toast with Prosciutto & Chilli Jam
I love this lighter version of the classic beans on toast. It’s great for brunch, or for an easy peasy supper.
300g podded broad beans
200g pesto – any herb will do
4 teaspoons of Scarlett & Mustard’s Billy’s Chilli Jam
Large ciabatta, split in half again to give four pieces
Olive oil for drizzling
2 garlic cloves, squashed
140g light cream cheese
4 slices of proscuitto
70g bag of rocket salad
Heat a medium-sized pan of water until boiling, and heat griddle pan over a high heat.
Add the broad beans to the boiling water. Cook for 2 mins or until just tender, then drain and remove the broad bean skins. Mix the beans with pesto.
Meanwhile, drizzle the cut side of the ciabatta with olive oil, then rub in the squashed garlic.
Toast until charred griddle lines appear (approx 2 mins).
Place a piece of toasted ciabatta on each plate, spread over the cream cheese, top with the pesto beans, a slice of prosciutto and a handful of rocket.
Dollop on the chilli jam, drizzle with olive oil and serve!
Top Tips for visiting the Suffolk Show
• Go to the loo before you leave home.
• Take plenty of cash – cash queues are longer than loo queues
• Make sure your phone is fully charged and arrange a meeting place in advance as signal often poor.
• Wear very, very comfortable shoes