Five-cheese and ham triple-decker toastie

Serves: 2

It’s Easter and we are on holidays on the beautiful South Coast of NSW.

A few unstructured days of walking along the beach, sleeping in and opening a Champagne every afternoon around 2.

(Even Max the 10-month old seems to be getting into it, sleeping in until 7.45 and then going back to bed with a bottle.)

With such a theme of relaxation and “who cares?”, it seemed appropriate to have this toastie one evening for dinner. A extraordinary toastie that on every level, tells you to sit down, shut up and just eat it.

For there are plenty of times for chicken breast and salad and abstaining from wine and life.

But Easter isn’t that time.

Which is why, right now, it’s five-cheese, toastie time and nobody here felt guilt or apologised for it*.

(The recipe is from the always reliable, Gourmet Traveller.)

Ingredients

200gm firm ricotta
75gm cheddar, coarsely grated
75gm provolone, coarsely grated
75gm Parmesan, finely grated
200gm buffalo mozzarella, thickly sliced
6 slices, pane di casa bread**
Dijon mustard
Leg ham slices, off the bone
40gm butter, diced

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  2. Stir the ricotta, cheddar, provolone, and Parmesan in a bowl to combine and season to taste. Spread two of the bread slices with the cheese mixture, then top each with another bread slice.
  3. Spread with mustard to taste, top with slices of ham and the mozzarella. Season to taste and sandwich with the remaining 2 slices of bread.
  4. Melt butter in a large, oven-proof frying pan over a medium heat, add sandwiches and fry until browned on the base: 1 – 2 minutes. Carefully turn over and brown the other side, then transfer in the pan to the oven and bake until the cheese is bubbling: 3 – 4 minutes.

Carefully remove from the oven and spoon the remaining butter in the pan over the top of the toasties and serve hot.

* Once you have done this sandwich, please try Matt Preston’s amazing toasted sandwich, something we unironically cooked one NYE evening!

** A rustic, thick crust white Italian bread cooked on a stone. Or try sourdough.

Muffuletta

Serves 6 – 8

I saw this incredible Italian sandwich being made by the always talented Giada De Laurentiis on her TV show a few years ago.

I prepared it for a date night with Nat – moonlight cinema – and prior, there was quite a bit of running around; for focaccia, once the hero bread of every café and sandwich, has largely disappeared from pretty much everywhere in Sydney.

I must have gone to half a dozen stores in Leichardt, all of whom said that they sold out early, every morning, mainly to nonnas who came in at dawn.

Given that each bite of this sandwich is like eating an antipasti platter, perhaps the elimination of the oily focaccia was a good thing, though I reckon it would have rounded out what is otherwise an extraordinary sandwich, if not one that is slightly daunting.

The traditional round bread I used was great however, though pull back a bit on the oil. After a night in the fridge compacting, you want to ensure that the bread doesn’t disintegrate as you try to work out how on earth you are going to get on a bite on your muffuletta.

This is your next adult picnic sorted.

Ingredients

¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/3 cup olive oil
10 large pitted green olives, chopped
1/3 cup pitted, chopped kalamata olives
¼ cup chopped roasted red bell peppers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (500gm) round bread loaf (about 18cm in diameter and 8cm high)
125gm thinly sliced ham
125gm thinly sliced mortadella
125gm thinly sliced salami
125gm sliced provolone
½ red onion, thinly sliced
Handful of rocket leaves

Method

  1. Whisk together the red wine vinegar, garlic and oregano together and then gradually blend in the oil. Stir in the olives and roasted peppers. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with salt and pepper.
  2. Cut the top 2.5cm of the bread loaf. Set the top aside. Hollow out the bottom and top halves of the bread. Spread some of the olive and roasted pepper mix over the bread bottom and cut side of the bread top. Layer the meats and cheeses in the bread bottom. Top with the onions, then the rocket. Spread the remaining olive and roasted pepper mix on top of the sandwich and carefully cover with the bread top.
  3. You can serve the sandwich immediately or you can wrap the entire sandwich tightly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator a day before serving; if you can, place something on top of the muffuletta to weigh it down and further compact the ingredients.
  4. Cut the sandwich into wedges and serve.
  5. Go for a long run.