Sunday, March 10, 2013
Grilled ham and cheese sandwiches are probably as popular in Holland as in any other country that has bread and cheese as a staple. Tostis (a tosti by itself is usually ham and cheese) or tosties are a standard go-to snack when a sandwich just will not do. They are on the menu in cafés, offered in any broodjeszaak or sandwich shop around town and tend to be a favorite in many households. There are about as many variations as there are people in the country: first comes the selection of the bread (wheat, white or anything in-between , then the type of cheese (young, mature, old, Leidse or foreign cheeses like Brie or Camembert), a selection of meat (ham, salami, roast beef....you name it), everybody in the family has a favorite combination.
Usually the buck stops here but others go even further. A Tosti Hawaii is, ofcourse, a ham and cheese grilled sandwich with a slice of pineapple, which is my favorite. There is a Tosti Kaas Ui (cheese and caramelized onion), Tosti Kaas Champignon (with, you guessed it, cheese and sautéed mushrooms) and so on and so forth. Slices of tomato or cucumber are also often added to the tosties.
So the easiest thing to do is to pull out the tosti-ijzer (a small countertop tosti making machine, much like a George Foreman grill) which just about any Dutch family has. Some kitchens have them permanently located on top of the counter, others will have to dig it out of a cupboard, but most homes do have one. Grab all the breads out of the broodtrommel, the bread box, retrieve several cheeses from the fridge, raid the produce pantry or groentela, produce drawer, in the fridge, and have everybody make their own tosties.
And after the savory tosties come, naturally, the sweet ones. So a tosti with apple and cinnamon, or one with banana and strawberry jam, another using up the pineapple slices from the Tosti Hawaii that someone ate earlier......it's a great way of using up those last pieces of cheese, sandwich meat or lick of leftover jam that needed to go. Quick and easy, and yet such comforting food!
2 slices of bread
4 slices of cheese
3 slices of ham
2 slices of canned pineapple
Butter or mayonnaise*
Arrange the cheese, ham and pineapple between the slices of bread. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a non-stick skillet and place the sandwich in the middle of the pan on low heat. When the bottom side of the sandwich is golden brown, carefully flip it over. Continue to fry until the other side is now golden brown too. Remove from pan. Cut in half, dip in ketchup and eat. Eat hot!
*If you don't have, or want to use butter, slather the outside of the bread slices liberally with mayonnaise and fry the sandwich in the pan. Use real mayo, not salad dressing!
Posted by Nicole Holten at 6:39 PM