The next time you're staring deep into the gulf of hunger, and you just don't have any of those fancy ingredients to hand that cookbook authors always seem to think you have, consider a toastie, slathered with garlic butter – yes, the stuff that makes garlic bread, garlic bread – and oozing with cheese.
Now look, you can do this properly, or you can cheat, because nobody's looking. You've got bread, right? Use anything, from white sandwich loaf to rustic sourdough. The only requirement for the butter is that it be soft enough to spread. (Take it out of the fridge NOW!)
Use fresh garlic – either finely grated or crushed – or the stuff you buy in a jar, already minced. Use two different cheeses for double the fun, something like a tasty cheddar or an elegant gruyere or nutty manchego, that will give you that bedrock of cheesy flavour, and something else like fresh mozzarella or a semi-soft fior di latte that will melt into gloopy strings (check out this guide to the best cheese for toasties).
Anything else you add can be random – chilli sauce, ham, bacon, pickles. My mate Zoe suggests chopped garlic chives, which is genius. I like a big slather of pesto, which gets all caught up and melty with the cheese, and oozes out in an aromatic, oily dribble of basil, garlic and parmesan.
Begin by making the garlic butter. Better still, make a pile of garlic butter the day before for grilled steak or roasted cauliflower, and keep some aside.
Go for a ratio of 1 garlic clove (or 1 teaspoon of finely grated garlic) and 1 tablespoon chopped parsley to 1 tablespoon salted butter per person, all mushed up with a fork.
Grate the cheddar cheese – a good heaped tablespoon or two, enough to carpet the bread. Slice the mozzarella. Have the pesto on stand-by.
Heat a solid frypan over low heat. Spread two slices of bread with the garlic butter (remember, toastie virgins, the butter goes on the OUTSIDE). Place one slice butter-side down in the pan, cover evenly with grated cheddar, then with sliced mozzarella. Spread the inside of the other slice of bread with pesto (easiest to do this in mid-air) and place pesto-side down on top, pressing lightly.
You now have two minutes to pour yourself a beer. Turn the toastie to brown the other side. You now have two minutes to stand around sipping beer. Transfer the toastie to a chopping board, cut in half and serve with remaining beer.