Painter’s Toast

You might have noticed we’ve been busy lately.  Bathroom-building.  Time-consuming lunch-time cooking doesn’t fit well with such industriousness.  I’ll often have a pot of soup on the stove, but the other day, a lunchtime treat from our days in England suddenly popped into my head.

Painter’s toast.

I think I read this recipe back in the 70’s, in an early example of the genre where famous people were invited to submit a recipe for a book raising funds for a charity.  I’ve just remembered what it was:  ‘The Shelter Cookery Book’. Was it Roger McGough who suggested crisp sandwiches?

One of Elisabeth Ayrton's best-known books
One of Elisabeth Ayrton’s best-known books
Novel by the painter
Novel by the painter

Anyway, Michael Ayrton said he and his wife were often too busy to make lunch.  Unsurprising really. He was a painter, printmaker, sculptor and designer, broadcaster, novelist and stage and costume designer.  Fascinated by the Minotaur and the maze-builder Daedalus, he created many works inspired by them.  Elisabeth, his wife, was a writer and the author of several cookery books.  So I suppose beans on toast just wouldn’t do.

Here’s what they came up with, as far as I can remember.

Mix grated strong cheese – cheddar is good – with a small amount of milk and softened butter.  Add a bit of whatever you fancy to liven it up.  Maybe mustard.  Maybe a little chilli.  Pile onto bread which you’ve toasted on one side only, and grill until bubbling and browned on top.

That’s it.  This close cousin of Welsh Rarebit always goes down well with us on cheerless winter days.  It may suit you too.  And while you’re at it, you might enjoy looking at a few more of Michael Ayrton’s works.

Author: margaret21

I'm retired and living in North Yorkshire, where I walk as often as I can, write, volunteer, and travel as often as I can.

8 thoughts on “Painter’s Toast”

  1. I make this often but with a good dash of Worcestershire sauce!
    Snow here by the way – not loads but a covering.


    1. Ah! Worcester sauce! They don’t have it here, suggesting celery salt instead. It’s not the same. Did you get the idea from the Shelter Cookery Book? Snow on and off here too.


    1. Just so long as you change one thing about your basic recipe. I’m thinking chili. Lots of it. That’ll wake them up and make them take notice 😉


  2. It was a James Martin recipe – and I confess he suggested cream and not milk!! No Worcestershire sauce?? How do you cope! I put a good glug into burgers, stews, all sorts……..


  3. Crisp sandwiches? I remember, if I was very good, my grandmother would make me a flat chip butty – home made flat chips, freshly cut bloomer and butter! I think the food police may object to that one now!


    1. Ah, but Malcolm wouldn’t. He’s Liverpudlian you see, and every now and then ruins a perfectly healthy diet by having – and hugely enjoying – a chip butty, which he insists has to be made with ‘plastic’ bread.


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