"cooking honey with butter and chilli until bubbling makes the most glorious topping to put on a grilled cheese sandwich." Drizzle and drip
We had to 'do' the family Easter on Saturday this year, because of various other commitments the family had. So yesterday I did my usual over the top feast, and I think this dish - Giant cheese on toast with spring onion, honey and Urfa butter (the recipe is reproduced o the Hokey Stokey website) - was the star of the show.
I served it as a pre-dinner snack after the egg hunt and before the sausages and Reuben Solomon's Chicken Everest. My older son told me somewhat shamefacedly that he had had six pieces. And there were only a couple of tiny pieces left at the end of the show - for show it was I suppose. And I made double this amount - well there were 12 of us.
It's actually a recipe from Ixta Belfrage's wonderful book Mezcla which I keep on urging you to buy. I have now made several recipes from it and have several more earmarked to try sometime. Even before you pour over the Spring onion, honey and Urfa butter sauce right at the end it would probably delight. I mean what's not to like about grilled cheese on toast? Particularly when you have a substantial base made from a split ciabatta loaf which has been toasted before you top with oodles and oodles of grated cheese mixed with cream and yoghurt. A triple whammy of cholesterol high dairy. Lots of protein though. But the cholesterol feast is not over yet, for while the cheesy toast has been toasting you have been heating a whole lot of butter with garlic, spring onions, honey and Urfa chilli flakes - well I have no idea where you can find Urfa flakes around here - so mine were just run of the mill chilli flakes. You take the bubbling cheesy toast from the oven and pour over the bubbling butter then top with sliced chilli and onion. Like wow. One of my guests said that it was the honey, that made it special. Another the spring onion. Who knows. It was just the perfect combination.
We allowed it to cool slightly. Well it would have been too hot to eat, and then cut it with a bread knife into largish chunks. Which were consumed with delight. Only one of my grandchildren demurred, but then he, like me as a child, said he really did not like cooked cheese. Well that's what he said, although he doesn't seem to mind pizza or lasagne. Maybe it was just too much.
I found two bloggers who had tried this dish. This one is from a website called Drizzle and Drip and she has tinkered with it slightly. One interesting thing that she did was to replace the double cream with sour cream - which might have been a good thing. Crème fraïche might work too. I think she might have fiddled with quantities a bit as well. She also has other suggestions for varying it.
Ixta Belfrage herself suggests that it could also be served as a meal, by cutting it in quarters and serving with a fried egg. More cholesterol, more dairy - and a crisp green salad.
I'm not sure what I could suggest as variations. The quality of the bread is important I think. I was going to try Turkish bread, but saw the ciabatta. Focaccia might work as well she says. You could maybe sprinkle some parsley or coriander on top? Not very original but it might freshen it a bit, or maybe you could make individual sized ones on split rolls of some kind. But why bother when you can just cut one into quarters? No, I think this is just pretty perfect as it is.
Today, the day after, I am finding that the main thing I feel about this dish is guilt. Because fundamentally this is just so unhealthy. Well from a cholesterol/fat point of view. I dread to think how many calories would be in just one small slice. Even if you served it with a supremely healthy salad you would not be able to take away from the calories. I also feel mildly bubbly and pale today although this might have been from a combination of rich foods and alcohol, not to mention a hot cross bun and a small piece of Easter chocolate later in the day. For this was lunch.
On the other hand I really do think that it's OK to treat yourself every now and then to something that is really not good for you. I mean this is Ixta Belfrage - who doesn't look as if she has an ounce of surplus fat anywhere. Mind you when I was young I could eat just about anything and not put on weight. Maybe she's the same. Maybe she works out at the gym at dawn every day. Maybe she just has a healthy diet. Unless it's party time.
I can no longer eat anything with gay abandon. So I am paying for my youthful sins. Though it doesn't stop me from indulging in guilty food such as this glorious thing every now and then. And I did only eat a couple of squares myself.
But should I feel guilty about introducing it to others? Should we praise recipes like this - or indeed any of the thousands of unhealthy but delicious recipes we see everywhere we look? There is an obesity crisis after all. I read the other day that in 1958 1% of the British population were technically obese. Today that figure is 26% with a further 38% overweight. In Australia it's 31% and a further 36% overweight - that's a total of 67%. Alarming. Which is why I feel guilty.
I do try to eat healthily and feed my husband and anyone else who strays into my cooking world healthily too. But I certainly don't go overboard. For me, life is coming to an end, so it's more of an 'eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die' attitude. It almost doesn't matter any more. But for the very young, and even the middle-aged - as my children are now - this is certainly not a philosophy to ensure a long and healthy life.
Nevertheless thank you Ixta. This was a delicious surprise and gave a lot of pleasure to my extended family. This is a picture that Ixta posted on her Instagram feed. Her book contains many, many other, much healthier things, but I have to say this is one of the top so far. But I'll only make it for party-like occasions. Not every day. Not even every week or month. It's special and so should be saved for special occasions.
Can't wait for her next book.