puffed cheese toasts from the monastery

I have this marvelous, crumbling and yellowed cookbook called From a Monastery Kitchen: a practical cookbook of vegetarian recipes for the four seasons complete from soups to desserts with breads. A great title, don’t you agree? The cookbook is compiled of Brother Victor Avila’s recipes, and is just crammed with little bits of wisdom, quotes, illustrations, and advice.

Tonight I came home in the cold and dark and opened the cookbook to page 24 to see “Puffed Cheese Toasts,” which sounded absolutely perfect. The recipe calls for 6 slices of whole wheat bread (and actual homemade bread really does work best here, which unless you have my mother or someone like her who bakes regularly, you probably don’t have at hand. I, however, do). You mix three-quarters cup of grated swiss cheese with two beaten eggs, salt, and pepper, then spread the paste on your bread and toast it. I’m not sure why I have never done this before — I’ve made plain old cheese toast plenty — but it was wonderful.

I paired my toast with a glass of “Restless Soul” red table wine from North Carolina’s 38 Vines collective. Not a bad match.

Brother Lawrence offered this advice from the Monastery cookbook, as I was cooking and sipping: “Lift up your heart to Him, sometimes even at your meals, and when you are in company; the least little remembrance will always be acceptable to Him. you need not cry very loud; He is nearer to us than we are aware of.”

To which Robert Louis Stevenson added from the margin: “Many’s the long night I dreamed of cheese — toasted, mostly.”

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