From childhood memories of mum's cheese jaffles to the toasted whatever's in the fridge to feed a hangover; or the toasties made to ensure we could eat while the landlord was still paid rent, it's as if life's greatest hits could be captured between two bits of bread. They are moments in time, moments of comfort and restoration, and we have the burns on the roof of our mouth to prove it.
These four toasted riffs on other classic comfort foods are humble in construction but grand in intent.
All recipes make six sandwiches (with some filling leftovers)
If you are short on time and inclination for making all the components of this toastie you can use quality store-bought pesto and onion jam. Although given the price, it is well worth making your own, ready for pasta, toast and other things requiring a little touch of condiment-related-something. I firmly believe most foods are improved by a stellar condiment and this guy is no exception.
75g pecorino, grated
50g flat leaf parsley, leaves picked
75g basil leaves
50g oregano, leaves picked
50g pinenuts, toasted
juice and zest of ½ lemon
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
8-10 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to season
4 red onions, halved and thinly sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
hefty pinch of salt
¼ cup brown sugar, plus extra to taste
¼ -½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 sourdough loaf sliced into 12 thick slices
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes (smoked if you can find them)
12 fresh basil leaves
150g serrano ham
Make the pesto by adding all ingredients to a blender and blitzing to combine. Add the eight tablespoons of olive oil and check for consistency – it should be a pleasantly chunky sauce. If it is too thick, add the remaining oil and continue to blitz until smooth. Check for seasoning. Add to a screw top jar, cover with a layer of olive oil (about 1cm deep) and set aside until ready to use. (Leftover pesto will last for a few weeks in an airtight jar in the fridge.)
To make the onion jam place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, wait until the oil takes on a shimmer, then reduce the heat to low and add the onions. Sweat until white, translucent and soft. Add the salt, sugar and a quarter cup of vinegar and continue cooking over low heat until a dark, jam-like consistency is achieved (about 15 to 20 minutes). Taste to check for a balance of tartness and sweetness and adjust the sugar and vinegar as needed. Transfer to an airtight container. (Like the pesto, the onion jam will last a few weeks in the fridge.)
To assemble the sandwiches place a slice of sourdough on a chopping board. Smear generously with the pesto. Add slices of mozzarella to cover, serrano ham, two basil leaves and semi-dried tomatoes. Spread another slice of bread with onion jam and sandwich together. Repeat with remaining bread and ingredients. Toast in a sandwich press until the mozzarella is melted and oozing – this is a great sign that all the ingredients have properly heated through. Remove and eat immediately.
Ma po tofu jaffles with optional dipping sauce. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Ma po tofu jaffle
The objective here is to find beautiful silken tofu (I used The International Organics Society silken Japanese organic tofu). Its soft reprieve is the perfect partner to the punching flavours of the mince. Note: There will be leftover mince and tofu but with a few days gestation in the fridge these are the gifts that keep on giving.
300g pork mince
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp kecap manis
1 tsp sesame oil
1 x 4cm piece ginger, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp kecap manis
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp shao hsing cooking wine
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
2 tbsp finely chopped spring onion
12 slices white bread
200g silken tofu, sliced 1cm-thick, lengthways
Dipping sauce (optional)
¼ cup Kewpie mayo
½ -1 tbsp chilli hot sauce (or to taste)
Add the pork mince, soy sauce and kecap manis to a bowl, working the sauce into the mince with a spoon. Place a frypan over medium heat. Add the sesame oil, ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the mince, using a wooden spoon to break up the mince as you cook. Then add the sauce ingredients and continue to cook until it has mostly reduced – it should darken and become a runny, jammy consistency. Remove from the heat and add the coriander and spring onion.
Place a slice of white bread on a flat surface. Butter it generously then turn over, buttered side down. Cover with one to two heaped tablespoons of the pork mixture and enough slices of tofu to cover. Gently cover with another slice of buttered bread. Repeat with remaining bread and ingredients. (You will haver mince mixture left over.)
Place in a jaffle maker and cook until golden and toasted. Serve with dipping sauce, if desired.
Carb-loaded nasi goreng jaffles. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Nasi goreng jaffles
Think throw-together nasi goreng. Normally you would combine ingredients in a food processor or mortar and pestle to create a rempah (paste), fry this, then add in a whole host of additions, but I've forgone authenticity for speed. No fancy leavened sourdoughs here; this works best on white bread. If you like extra brown and crunch, give the outer sides of bread a swathe of butter before assembling.
¼ cup flavourless oil (such as rice bran)
1 clove garlic, roughly crushed
2 eschallots, finely sliced
1 tsp fish sauce
¼ tsp shrimp paste
1 tbsp kecap manis
2 cups cooked basmati rice
1 red chilli, finely sliced
¼ cup coriander leaves, chopped
1 spring onion, finely sliced
12 slices of white bread
6 soft sunny-side-up fried eggs (one per jaffle)
1 cup cooked prawn crackers
extra sliced chilli and coriander leaves
Heat the oil in a wok or frypan over medium heat. Add the garlic and eschallots and cook until just translucent and fragrant, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the fish sauce, shrimp paste and kecap manis, and stir to coat the onion mixture. Add the rice, reduce the heat to low, and stir until warmed through and the rice takes on a golden-brown tinge and is evenly coated in the mixture. Remove from the heat and add the sliced chilli, coriander leaves and spring onion.
Place the bread slices on a flat surface. Top half the slices with two to three tablespoons each of the rice mixture. Add the soft fried egg and a few broken prawn crackers then top with another slice of bread.
Carefully transfer the sandwiches to a jaffle maker (in batches) and cook until the outsides are crisp and golden and the filling has warmed through. Serve piping hot with additional prawn crackers, coriander and sliced chilli.
This dessert toastie uses brioche bread. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Apple pie and salted caramel toastie
This makes about four cups of apple, more than you need, but the leftovers are always a good thing – future morning oats, crumbles and pies will thank you for your advanced planning. I used a combination of tart granny smith and sweet royal gala apples.
The caramel is a dry caramel, and I like to take it to the edge of burning because I love how the bitterness counteracts with the sweetness of the apple and brioche. Just pull from the heat when you reach your preferred level of golden.
3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1.5cm slices
3 red gala apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1.5cm slices
1 tsp vanilla bean extract
50g castor sugar
25g brown sugar
juice and zest of ½ lemon
290g castor sugar
50g cold, diced butter
1 tsp salt flakes
1 loaf brioche, sliced into 12 slices
vanilla ice-cream, to serve
For the salted caramel, scatter the sugar across the base of a large saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Cook for two to three minutes or until golden, stirring with a spoon to ensure the sugar on the bottom doesn't burn. Continue to cook until desired consistency is achieved, being careful as sugar can burn quickly, this can be up to another two to three minutes.
Remove from the heat, gently and slowly pour in the cream and using a whisk, whisk vigorously. Add the cold butter, a few cubes at a time, whisking continuously to ensure the sauce doesn't split.
Whisk in the salt then pour the caramel into a heatproof container and allow to thicken slightly and cool completely in the fridge (at least 30 minutes).
While the caramel is cooling, prepare the apple filling by adding the apple pieces, vanilla bean extract, sugars and a squeeze of lemon juice to a medium-sized saucepan. Grate over the lemon zest, cover with the lid and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally and using a wooden spoon to break up the apple as it cooks, until the apples are tender and soft (about 30 minutes). Cook the apple longer than you might for a pie or crumble filling, given this will only have the few additional minutes in the toaster. Allow to cool.
Place the brioche slices on a flat surface. Add half a tablespoon of the cooled caramel (it will have almost a fudgy consistency) to the centre of one slice. Add two to three tablespoons of apple mixture and top with an additional piece of brioche. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
Gently transfer sandwiches to a sandwich press and toast for one to two minutes or until the ingredients have warmed through and the bread is golden.
Serve immediately with vanilla ice-cream and warmed-through leftover salted caramel.
Find more of Katrina Meynink's recipes in the Good Food Favourite Recipes cookbook.