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Sushi

April 6, 2014

I do adore sushi. It always makes for a satisfying lunch. If I had to choose to eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would be…well, toasties obviously…but if there were some kind of drastic global shortage of white sandwich bread, then I would happily make do with sushi for the rest of eternity. However, I think we can take this lunch to a whole new level. Call me a perfectionist if you will, but I think there’s always room for improvement. And by ‘improvement’, obviously I mean ‘toasting’. What would happen if we take these two epic food genres and combine them to create something hitherto unknown to humankind? Will lunch ever be the same again?

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I have to admit to a sense of anxiety, as I don’t want to end up ruining perfectly good sushi in pursuit of a reckless vision. However these questions must be answered! I ventured forth to the local sushi joint and obtained a combo as I felt this experiment would suit a mixture of different sushi.

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Upon constructing the toastie I found that four pieces of sushi fitted perfectly symmetrically on the bread. Symmetry always pleases me and I felt this to be a good omen.

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I then added all the accoutrements that came with the sushi – garnishing with ginger.

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Whacking on some wasabi.

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And adding a smattering of soy sauce.

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Then, top with the final layer of bread. A solidly constructed sandwich truly is a thing of beauty.

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And this *is* a solid sandwich. So solid it took much longer to cook than usual. If you are considering reconstructing this experiment in your own home or workplace, I advise taking this into account and planning accordingly if you have short lunch breaks or a particularly nosey boss who has suspicions about your continuous use of the toastie maker.

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It’s worth the wait though, is it just me or are these innards simply mesmerising? So much detail!

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It’s like a diorama about the secret life of sushi.  I could stare at it for hours.

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That is until I’m distracted by the cross-section. It’s one of the best I’ve ever seen. Phwoar.

Okay, enough voyeurism. How does it taste?

SWEET MOTHER OF SANDWICH BREAD.

THIS.

IS.

AWESOME.

This is the most satisfying sandwich you could ever hope to encounter. The sushi is nicely warmed through, the bread is crunchy and provides a conveniently stable shell so you could easily eat this on the go. Every mouthful is different, sometimes salmon, sometimes rice, sometimes the weird tofu thing, but always delicious. The wasabi, ginger, and soy are all noticeable and add depth to the flavours. It is quite simply delicious.

OFFICIAL TOASTIE PROJECT RATING:

Toastability – 5/5. Making this is almost too easy. Four of the round things go in between two of the square things. Don’t forget to add everything else that came in the packets, and then cook for about five minutes. No leakage and nothing that’s going to burn your tongue upon consumption. Perfect.

Taste – 5/5. This is such a warm and comforting toastie. A triumph of carbohydrates. A blissful union of two independently wondrous foodstuffs. Toasties and sushi = made for each other. Who knew?

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Love Hearts

February 17, 2014

So Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and I hope it treated you well, my lovely readers.

But I don’t really get it. While all the chocolates and roses and soft toys are very nice, it does all get a bit…boring, you know? Unoriginal. Instead, why not express your affection for someone with the ultimate symbol of enduring love?

With a toasted sandwich. Aw yeah.

Cue music.

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We are going to make the world’s most romantic toastie, and for this we need the candy of crushes, ye olde Love Hearts. A great big tube of ’em.

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If you’re unfamiliar with these sweets, they’re hard little fruit-flavoured candies which have a slightly sherbert-y taste to them. Apparently they have their origins in Victorian ‘conversation lozenges’, which frankly sound like the most unappealing kind of conversations you could ever be involved in.

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Laying them out I’m getting quite excited about the literary aspect of this toastie. I’ve never made a sandwich with so many words before!

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Er, hang on. True Lips? …  Is that even a thing?

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Right, so now to make the toastie. Construction must be meticulous and symmetrical. After all, you want to impress your loved one with your manual dexterity and aesthetic sensibility. 

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Reciting some poetry can also help with the wooing too:

O Toastie.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more crunchy and more delicious.

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Much leakage may plague thy bready boundaries,

But thy eternal tastiness shall not fade.

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Actually there’s only a tiny bit of leakage with this toastie. I can’t help but look at it and imagine that the leakage is melted words oozing out the side of the toastie.

LOVEBUGHUGMETRUELIPSssdlfweffffhh.

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Which explains what happens when we inspect the innards. It’s blank! The sweets have melted and partially dissolved, so that the writing has completely disappeared.

You could say…this toastie’s lost for words.

But don’t, because that’s a *terrible* joke and your date is likely to walk out on you after that.

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And the cross-section. As the bread cools the Love Hearts crisp up again, and the bread has obviously absorbed some of the dissolved sweets because it’s gotten surprisingly fragile. Like many a relationship where couples no longer make toasties for each other. So sad.

OFFICIAL TOASTIE PROJECT RATING:

Toastability – 5/5. Straight forward construction, no need to clean up afterwards. And the less you have to talk about ‘leakage’ if you’re trying to seduce someone while making them a toasted sandwich, the better.

Taste – 3/5. Hm. Interesting. The flavours of the Love Hearts seem to have gotten a bit stronger with cooking, and there’s still a little bit of fizziness going on. I have to admit though that it’s not the greatest toastie ever made. Warm, slightly fizzy candy is not exactly the sexiest of foodstuffs.

But hey. When it comes down to it, this isn’t about the taste. It’s about true love. That is, seeing whether someone truly loves you enough to eat this toastie just to make you happy.

Aw. And who said romance was dead?

Chips & Dip

February 6, 2014

It’s a public holiday here today in Toastieland, and I wanted to whip something up to celebrate in style.  Something that truly embodies the can-do attitude of New Zealanders, and the spirit of nationhood and togetherness that we all strive for.

All that striving can make you quite peckish after all.

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The ultimate Waitangi Day snack needs the greatest of all Kiwi combinations since Finn brother met Finn brother – chips and onion dip. *salutes*

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To make this dip, all you need is a can of reduced cream and a packet of onion soup. Perhaps a bit of lemon juice if you’re fancy, but I’m not going to judge you.

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Stir to combine. Remove spoon from bowl. Lick spoon clean. Briefly wonder why humankind ever chooses to eat anything else. Place bowl in fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

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Then introduce your dip to potato chips, and know that you’ve created something truly beautiful in this world.

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Next, assemble your glorious toastie. A generous helping of chips and a lascivious dollop of dip.

Then toast!

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A reflective self-portrait in a toastie maker. This kinda sums up my life, really.

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During toasting some of the dip starts to melt and creep out, but it’s not really any cause for alarm. The kitchen smells awesome too.

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Innards! Or, to pronounce it correctly as an NZer, ‘unnards’.

Er, not so attractive from this angle.

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But the cross-section is beautiful. A classic kiwi dish *within* a classic kiwi dish. So meta.

And finally, we get to taste it…

OH MY GOD IT’S SO GOOD. SERIOUSLY.

It’s creamy and salty and absolutely amazing. You could probably quite happily make this without the chips, as they do soften quite a bit, but they don’t really detract from the wonder that is a warm toasted sandwich of onion dip. It’s very moreish and all kinds of wrong, but I love it.

OFFICIAL TOASTIE PROJECT RATING:

Toastability – 5/5. Easy to construct and very little leakage to be concerned about. The hardest part about the whole thing is waiting for the dip to set at the start.

Taste – 5/5. Yes, that’s full marks people! DELICIOUS. I strongly suggest you make one of these today. We have reached a new pinnacle in our exploration of the uncharted landscape of toasties. And the view from up here is amazing.

Candy Canes

December 24, 2013

Happy Christmas Eve lovely readers! Put another log on the fire, pour yourselves a nice glass of port, and sit back and enjoy the final installment in this year’s Festive Toastie Extravaganza. Twas the night before Christmas and all through the kitchen, the toasties were toasting and looking bewitchin’…

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Today’s experimental subject is ye olde time-y candy cane. Which totally pops against that blue background, amirite?

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I like candy canes. What I don’t like however is having to peel off the fiddly plastic cover they come in. Especially when I have ten of them.

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However once they are finally de-peeled, I can start constructing the toastie. How many should I put in? One candy cane fits quite neatly on the bread.

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Three candy canes means I have some nice horizontals going on.

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Oh screw it, I’ll just do them all. It is Christmas after all.

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Excellent. This toastie now displays the correct ratio of filling to bread, which is approximately 8:1. This is known as the ‘Golden Sandwich Mean’.

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I don’t think I’ve seen anything more festive in my whole life.

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Given the bulk of the toastie it does take a few minutes for the melting to take effect. Oh but it’s such a wondrous thing to behold. Sometimes images express more than words ever could, so let’s just watch and enjoy as this beautiful process unfurls:

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*happy sigh*

It does rather look from the side though as if toothpaste is being squeezed out of the bread. Which is starting to remind me of a certain ill-fated toastie which I still have nightmares about.

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The process of extraction from the toastie maker is slightly problematic however. To avoid three degree burns I have to wait until the melted pool of candy has cooled and soldified somewhat. Then I have to basically chisel the sandwich off the plates.

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Fortunately no toastie makers were harmed in the production of this toastie. However, I call this shot ‘The Desolation of Sandwich’.

The candy canes have also fused the bread together and I can’t prise it open for a look at the innards.

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However the cross section is quite satisfying. This toastie is epically pink, and thankfully smells much better than toothpaste.

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And a side on view! Featuring a blob of candy which ended up on top of the sandwich, and a bite taken by yours truly.

My favourite by-product of this toastie however is this strip of candy which formed as I was removing the toastie and soldified:

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Behold! I have created bacon from candy! Yea verily, tis a Christmas miracle.

OFFICIAL TOASTIE PROJECT RATING:

Toastability – hm, tricky. It was very difficult to clean the toastie maker afterwards, yes. But the scale of melting candy was just so satisfying to watch, that I think it makes up for all that. I’m going to give it a 4/5 because it was just so darn fun to make.

Taste – 2.5/5. This did not taste like toothpaste. In the words of my invaluable assistant who was fortunate enough to sample the finished product, it tasted like peppermint candy floss. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. However I don’t think the addition of bread to candy canes was something that enhanced the taste. Sometimes toasting things makes them taste better, sometimes it doesn’t. Life is like a box of chocolates, my friends. You never know which ones are better in a toastie.

And with that I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a toastie-filled New Year. Thanks for sending all your lovely emails and comments, and we’ll be back next year with more toasting!

Egg Nog

December 22, 2013

Hello again my fellow Toastiephiles! Christmas is only three sleeps away, so I think this calls for another foray into the world of celebratory solstice sandwiches.

Today’s experimental subject is a slightly new medium, in that it’s much less a solid foodstuff than a liquid one. This could get messy.

By the way, that’s a cinnamon stick in the picture below, not just a random twig I threw in for the hell of it.

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Mmm, egg nog. So creamy and delicious. Yes I know that the idea of a drink that contains raw eggs is kind of nauseating, but if you haven’t tried egg nog before I really do recommend it. It’s like a milkshake but with spices and booze in it.

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Which is all well and good, but I’m not entirely sure what the best method for transferring the egg nog onto the bread is.

*thoughtful head scratch*

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In the end I just unceremoniously pour it all over the bread. Perhaps a little more ceremony would have helped, because I also spilled quite a bit all over the toastie maker, but that’s a lesson for next time.

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On with the toasting! I think there’s almost as much leakage here as toastie.

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If you look closely, you can see a difference in size between the two pieces of bread. The top slice is unchanged, but the bottom slice has expanded slightly with the absorption of the egg nog.

If you stare at it too long, the lower edge of the toastie starts to look creepily like a pair of lips made out of bread. And that’s not a happy smile it’s making.

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Anyway, here’s the obligatory cross-section. I’m weirdly fascinated by the way the leakage has attached itself to the toastie and won’t let go.

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Even when I pretend it’s shimmying. Wheeeeee.

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Unfortunately there’s no picture of the innards of this toastie for you to feast your eyes upon, as the egg nog sealed the pieces of bread together and I couldn’t peel it open. So here is some abandoned leakage instead. Lest we forget.

So how did it taste?

Well, I think it’s time we addressed the elephant in the room, which has only occurred to me at this stage in the process, but is probably what you’re all thinking now. What I’ve done in this experiment is taken two pieces of white bread, soaked them in an eggy mixture, and cooked them.

In conclusion – I’ve made some french toast.

*slow clap*

OFFFICIAL TOASTIE PROJECT RATING:

Toastability: 2/5 – some obvious issues with the method of egg nog transfer here, which resulted in potentially unnecessary leakage overflow. However this could have been easily remedied with the use of a concave utensil or similar technical equipment at this delicate stage of the process. In other words, I could have used a spoon.

Taste: 4/5 – Despite my vague disappointment at the slightly mundane conclusion to this experiment, this toastie is quite satisfying and would definitely bear repeating. In fact, I think Egg Nog French Toast Toasties should totally be a brunch staple and you should request it at your local cafe. Tell them the Toastie Mistress sent you.

Pavlova

December 18, 2013

Welcome back to our series of Festive Toasties! Ding dong merrily on high, fa la la la la etc.

Following on from last time’s difficulties with festive food from the Northern hemisphere, today we shall be experimenting with something more suited for an Antipodean Christmas.

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Pavlova is of course the iconic Kiwi Christmas dessert. It’s crunchy on the outside, fluffy and soft in the middle, and head-spinningly sweet. Best served with cream, strawberries, and a grim determination to finish a whole slice when you’ve just eaten Christmas lunch.

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It’s not a dessert without controversy however. The country of origin of the pavlova – New Zealand or Australia – was passionately debated over for decades. However academic research has concluded that it was in fact created in 1926 in a hotel in Wellington (NZ), and there’s a very interesting book on the subject by Helen Leach which I recommend if you’re into that kind of thing. Which I am.

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However, I have noticed that in the debate over the origin of the pavlova, no one raised the issue of what it’s like in a toasted sandwich.

Frankly people, this saddens me greatly. But by Jove, I’ll answer this question once and for all.

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Well, our first answer to this question is – it lacks internal strength. The pavlova collapsed almost immediately when the toastie maker lid was lowered.

Not that this is a surprise at all, considering it’s a dessert in which one of the chief ingredients is air. I’m just saying maybe don’t use pavlova as building material or anything.

Though if you do please let me know, because that would be awesome.

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Our next observation is the clear indication of the presence of leakage.

A.K.A., I’m going to have to wipe down the bench when I’m finished.

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Taking a peek inside, it is evident that the scale of the leakage is bigger than I expected. Also, the top bread slice appears to have slid from its original position, obviously forced by the action of the toastie maker lid being put down. It’s the sandwich equivalent of tectonic plates shifting, if the plates were made of white toast bread and the earth’s magma was in fact sugar, egg whites, and cream.

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But even a geological metaphor can’t hide the fact that what I’ve created is actually a sweet fried egg sandwich.

Oh. Yay.

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Unfortunately the innards just confirm this. That glossy sheen on the cooked egg white is particularly… appetising.

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The cross section. The bread had become quite soggy, giving it a slightly wilted appearance.

Which is frankly the only thing this sandwich has going for it.

OFFICIAL TOASTIE PROJECT RATING:

Toastability: 1/5 – this toastie comes under the ‘problematic-with-the-potential-to-be-disastrous’ category of toasting ingredients. Leakage and an epic cleanup afterwards, I’m used to. But the way the bread immediately shifted out of place is new, and poses a fundamental problem in the structure of the sandwich. I’m not impressed.

Taste: 1/5 – also unimpressed by the taste. It’s mushy sweet fried egg with a hint of strawberry. I know they say you only live once and so you should try lots of different things, but I am telling you this is not one of those things. Put the toastie down and walk away.

Christmas Mince Pies

December 15, 2013

Feliz Navisandwich amigos! Christmas is nearly upon us. Trees are being decorated. Presents are being wrapped. Playlists of bad Christmas music are being curated. There’s just so much to be done.

But amid all the hustle and bustle of this festive season, let us not forget the *true* meaning of Christmas. Which is of course, food. Lots of food. Weird food we wouldn’t normally eat at any other time of the year. Food which it’s high time was turned into DELICIOUS FESTIVE TOASTIES.

First in our series of Festive Toasties, are the traditional Christmas Mince Pies. Traditional, yet always contentious. Some people love them, some hate them. Personally I love them…but then I wouldn’t exactly use myself as an example of good taste.

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In case any of our readers are unfamiliar with this particular Christmas delicacy, I think it’s important to clarify at this point that these pies contain fruit mince, not mince mince. Though apparently in Ye Olden Days they originally contained both. However they were quite short on toastie makers back then, so I don’t think there were many medieval versions of fruit-mince-mince-mince-toasties to be had.

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This mince pie was handcrafted by Christmas elves in a sparkling magical factory at the North Pole. Which can be handily purchased in packets of six at my local New World.

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Assuming the position for sandwichification. Which is probably as painful as it sounds.

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During the toasting procedure. Nothing interesting is happening here, though it does smell nice and spicy.

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After toasting, we have some festive innards to gaze lovingly upon. There’s some kind of vaguely geometric pattern that has occurred with the pastry. It’s almost Art Deco in fact. Fancy.

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And the cross-section. Layers of bread, pastry, and squished raisins which look like they’re trying to escape.

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After all that though, the taste was sadly unremarkable. Adding two layers of bread to a pastry shell really didn’t improve it (weird, I know). I tried a few bites but it just wasn’t worth pursuing.

However, as I looked at the abandoned toastie I had a sudden flash of inspiration.

FIRE.

And BOOZE.

Just like pouring brandy over a Christmas pudding and setting it alight, this toastie needs to be flambeed!

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I grabbed some matches, doused the toastie in a healthy swig of brandy, and set it alight.

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Er.

Now, the problem with some Christmas traditions is that they just don’t really translate that well in the Southern Hemisphere. The days here are long and bright and sunny, so anything that relies on a) conveying a sense of warmth to combat wintery chills, and b) light to brighten the long dark nights, doesn’t come off that well.

So setting fire to something in the middle of a summer’s day in a bright kitchen and then trying to capture it on camera, isn’t a particularly effective plan of attack.

I can assure you though, the toastie did catch light and the flames flickered just long enough to ignite my fervent hopes and dreams. So while the photo above may look like nothing special is happening, there was in fact a blaze afoot. Below I have indicated where those flames are, using my masterful Paint skills.

*warms hands over the photo*

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OFFICIAL TOASTIE PROJECT RATING:

Toastability: 5/5.

An excellent toasting substance. No mess to clean up afterwards, plus you get to set fire to the thing. What’s not to like?!

Taste: 2/5 – unflambeed; 5/5 – flambeed.

The fire and brandy mix worked like a Christmas miracle! I was quite astonished at the effect it had on the toastie, turning it from drab to fab in no time. The brandy added a bit of moisture and depth of flavour to the toastie, and it really did turn out to be quite delicious. Perhaps more experiments using alcoholic ingredients are called for?