For people who work from home, a toasted sandwich maker can be your best friend.
Working from home (or working on home, in my case), you are subjected to temptations to stop work almost constantly. Whether it’s the pets or the kids who want your attention, housework, or friends and neighbours who treat you like you’re on holidays, discipline and avoiding excess distraction become paramount.
Lunchtime is a period particularly vulnerable to focus destruction. You have to try and keep lunch easy and quick and this is where the electric sandwich maker comes into its own. It bridges the divide between a hot lunch and cold one, providing a healthy quantity of food that is still a satisfying boredom breaker.
I have several nifty little tricks I do with the sandwich maker, which was always known by its brand name ‘the breville’ when I was growing up, and when it was a just new fad.
The breville stalwart, as everyone knows, is the toasted cheese sandwich. My variation is to grill some onion on one side while toasting the sanga on the other, and stuffing the onions in at the end. Similarly, the pizza sandwich has your preferred selected ingredient grilled straight on one hotplate while you toast the tomato paste, cheese and sliced tomato sandwich on the other half. You can fry up a bit of bacon or garlic, capsicum, salami, or onion to add later, elevating your sandy from an ordinarily simple tosta mista (the Portuguese love a ham and cheese toasty and it is a mandatory item in every café in the land) to something mais especial.
It can also happen that the home worker is so dedicated that meals can be easily forgotten. With the unfortunate development of the webcam the home worker can be sometimes spotted at desk still in jarmies and bed hair at 11am. Again this is where the breville comes into the fray. By midday, the clock might be saying lunch but the stomach is still saying breakfast and the breville is saying French toast.
Far from being second rate, I consider yesterday’s bread a special occasion. Here’s why:
French Toast in the Toasted Sandwich Maker
splash of milk
maybe a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar, a squeeze of lemon or orange juice,
or a drop of vanilla essence.
Yesterday’s bread – preferably a sourdough or, if you’re in Portugal, a mistura. Small bread rolls are ideal. White sliced bread tends to fall to pieces once dunked in the batter.
Mix the batter in a cup and pour out onto something that the bread will fit into – a pasta plate is perfect, or a small bowl. Dip the bread briefly so it’s coated all over, but not too soggy.
Wipe some butter around your hot sandwich maker (that’s why you keep the bit of paper or foil that the butter container comes with) and then chuck in the wet bread and drop the lid. Ssssss!
You can eat them with anything you want but the most traditional thing is honey. You could grill a rasher of bacon on one side of the TSM and have a Canadian-style honey/maple syrup-bacon thing, you can go all northern European and have cheeses and deli meats, or be English and have a plop of marmalade. I have been known to have a big dollop of my latest jam with a slosh of cream! Cinnamon and sugar is also good, especially if the toast is still a bit buttery.
If you are Portuguese, you may wish to hum a little Christmas carol as you are scoffing them down (as rabanadas or fatias douradas are a Christmas dessert thing in Portugal, you see. Mmm wonder if my fav cafe will do them).
Some people don’t like these kitchen gadgets because of the idea of cleaning them. But it’s easy. As soon as you’ve taken out your toast, and it the grill is still hot and a bit greasy, get a piece of kitchen paper and give it a wipe over. It’s clean enough in 3 seconds.
Now get back to work!