A few weeks ago one of my aunts came to stay. Cathy is a lover of all things National Trust so we decided that a day out to The Workhouse in Southwell would be interesting.
The sky was grey and there was a cold breeze blowing as we pulled up in the car park, the workhouse in front of us. Surprised at how attractive the building looked – symmetrical, nicely proportioned with large windows, we headed past its kitchen gardens and into a different world. A few hours later we climbed back into the car chilled through. Looking up I saw the building through different eyes. The heartbreak of the families separated from each other on arrival, the hours of hard, pointless, relentless work performed day after day, the perpetual cold, the purposeful stifling of any form of pleasure, the hunger, the degradation, the loss of hope, the harsh unfairness of being born poor. It certainly made me more grateful for what I have.
Just before we left, as a kind of debrief, we had a look in the gift shop. Books on the history of the workhouse stood alongside printed pictures of puffins and bags of clotted cream fudge. As I was browsing, grateful to be back in the 21st Century, a book caught my eye. ‘Posh Toast*’ was full of lots of inspiring ideas for loaded toast, to be eaten as a light meal at any time of the day. I’m already a bit of a sucker for peanut butter and raspberry jam or smashed avocado with balsamic vinegar on toast but this book took things further. From pickled cucumber and hot smoked salmon to French toast with berries and mascarpone, the book was full of inspiring recipes. I bought it.
A couple of days later, inspired by the book but wanting to use only what was already in the house to make lunch, I had a quick rummage through the fridge and pulled out a handful of promising ingredients. Putting them together I came up with this, and it really works.
This Mediterranean toast has everything you need going on. The cool richness of the cream cheese works brilliantly with the pungent flavours of the sundried tomato paste and the basil leaves. Topping it off with the artichoke hearts adds another layer of flavour and some great texture. Any artichoke hearts will work well but I particularly like the Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Chargrilled Artichokes in Olive Oil. Any leftover artichoke hearts are great eaten straight out of the jar when savoury cravings hit.
* I will receive a small percentage of the sale if you purchase this book through the Amazon link above. The price of the book is the same as if you went through the Amazon website directly.
- 2 slices crusty bread *
- 35 g cream cheese
- 2 rounded teaspoons sundried tomato paste (I like the Sacla brand)
- A few fresh basil leaves
- 2 artichoke hearts**
- Toast the bread until golden brown. Spread with the cream cheese followed by the sundried tomato paste. Top with the basil leaves.
- Drain the artichoke hearts, slice into 2-3 pieces and place on top of the basil leaves.