Cheese Toasties - Header

Eat like the Irish: Baked Cheese Toasties

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! As we discussed last year, part of my family hails from the Emerald Isle, and as every March 17th approaches, I eagerly anticipate another chance to cook food from the country of my ancestors.

You’re probably already familiar with Guinness beef stew, Colcannon, and soda bread/biscuits, traditional and popular Irish fare, not to mention the many green dishes that take over the table at this time of year.

I love most of these dishes, I truly do, but I’ve been increasingly interested in wanting to know a little more about the meals that aren’t the most familiar or famous, but are the hearty plates that a home cook prepares for their family on a daily basis, like today’s toasties.

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These aren’t the foods that are well known thanks to travelers, cookbooks, or food trends; they are dishes that the Nonnas and Nannies of the world are plating for their people when it comes to feeding them on busy weeknights when simple food needs to be stretched to feed many mouths around the table each night.

My Irish father-in-law fondly remembers eating “toasties” when he was younger; an open-faced cheesy sandwich made with grated cheddar and eggs, two things that were readily available in his parent’s home.

In fact, it’s been said that in the years between St. Patrick (the 400s) and the arrival of the potato (the 1600s) Irish cuisine could best be described as “milky” thanks to the lush green pastures that fed the country’s beloved cows, bearers of some of the best dairy produced around the world.

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My family wasn’t around during that time, of course, but they certainly have an affinity for all things dairy, with butter and cheese sitting at the top of the list. This simple sandwich makes use of both ingredients.

While today’s toasties are more like a traditional sandwich, assembled with two slices of bread and a variety of funky fillings, I prefer the version I’m most familiar with and like to think about how this humble dish kept members of our Irish family well-fed over the years. Often served with potato soup, this is the true definition of Celtic cuisine, as far as I’m concerned.

Baked Cheese Toasties
4.5 from 4 reviews
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Cuisine: Irish
Author:
Serves/Yield: 4
Buttering the bottom of each slice of bread yields the gorgeous golden crust we've all come to love in a more traditional grilled cheese sandwich. If you can't find Irish cheddar in your grocery store, feel free to use your favourite aged or sharp cheese instead.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 4 one-inch thick slices crusty bread
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded Irish cheddar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Generously butter one side of each slice of bread and place the pieces buttered-side down on a baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and pepper. Stir in the cheese, making sure the egg mixture evenly coats the shredded pieces.
  3. Remove the toasts from the oven and divide the cheese mixture over the top of the four pieces of bread, taking care to spread it to the edges of each slice.
  4. Bake until puffed and golden brown, 12 - 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Editor’s Note: Pair these toasties with this green Broccoli Spinach Soup for a simple St. Paddy’ Day lunch or dinner!

Tell me, where do your ancestors come from? Which humble dish from that culture are you most fond of?

About Jan

Jan Scott is a Canadian food writer, party planner, and mom of two active tween boys. She is the home cook and creative behind Family Bites, a blog inspired by the simple recipes and party ideas she’s put to the test on her family. Prior to making the transition to freelance writer, Jan spent five years as a party planner for a private catering company, but shifted to working from home in order to spend more time with her growing family.

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Comments

  1. Our St Patty’s day got off to a snowy start; since the kids are home I’m going to make this for a special St. Patty’s Day breakfast!
    Lea @ GourmetMommy’s last post: Individual Meat Loaves

  2. Those look so good. The stuff comfort food is made of.

    My grandparents are from Slovakia and my favorite humble dish would have to be haluski. Pan fried cabbage and noodles or dumplings. Yum!

  3. I love the simplicity of this meal plus it looks really good.
    Meagan @ A Zesty Bite’s last post: Graham Cracker A La Mode

  4. My mother is French and my favourite humble food is pain perdu (lost bread), where you dip hard, stale bread in milk (as long as it need to soften, even a whole day if necessary!), then you dip it in egg and pan fry it in butter. You serve it with sugar sprinkled over. But it can be made savoury with some cheese on top. The ancestor of American French toast or Texas Toast…. but born to make use of otherwise unusable old bread ;)

  5. I went to Limerick, Ireland a few years ago with my husband on a business trip. Our first meal after the overnight flight was at a coffee shop where I ordered a cheese toastie. Yep. Egg sandwich. I was not impressed, but I would have loved your version.

  6. Mmm loving this! It sounds good for any time of year!
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar’s last post: Guinness Floats

  7. I have never seen that recipe before but I really want to try it. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
    LaCuisineHelene’s last post: Tea Sparrow {Giveaway}

  8. Sweden is where my mother’s family hails from, and because of that I love rice pudding! These toasties look wonderful, though, and I’m planning them pronto as an after-school snack!
    Julia’s last post: Paleo Artichoke and Greens Quiche

  9. My family hails from Ireland as well! One of my favourite traditional dishes is colcannon- cabbage and potato with lots of creamy butter.
    I appreciate the simplicity of this recipe and the real-life version of Irish rather then all soda bread. And one can never go wrong with cheese and bread. =)
    Breanne’s last post: 11/52

  10. Lately I haven’t been able to pull much together for holidays like this – pinterest just before a holiday totally freaks me out! St. Patrick’s Day treasure hunts and rainbow food and costumes, yikes! Totally wasn’t happening this year. So, these cheese toasties saved the holiday – and my peace of mind. I told the kids these were the real Irish thing and they loved them – made the day special without any fuss. Thank you very, very much!
    Allison’s last post: Lemon Basil Pizza with Spinach and Mozzarella

    • Allison, Pinterest before any holiday freaks me out! Thanks for your lovely comment. You certainly can never go wrong with cheesy toast.

    • Thank you, Allison! And I completely agree with you…Pinterest in the days leading up to a holiday or time of celebration is almost unbearable. I’m so happy the special day was honoured in a simple way – shouldn’t they all be like that?

  11. Here I am in Arizona and we have not had a winter it is 83 degrees, how I wish I could live where it snows. Your toasts look delicious!
    cheri’s last post: Aravaipa Farms A Country Inn

  12. I love food from the “ol’ country”, and I bet these toasties are amazing!
    Kate @ Diethood’s last post: Banana, Kiwi and Kale Smoothie

  13. So I’m not Irish, but I do live in Ireland. (US Expat) I can’t believe I missed this post earlier this week, but here in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday, so I wasn’t online much. St. Patrick’s day is very similar to July 4th in the US – lots of parades, festivals, family time… Personally, my favorite Irish dish is fish pie or roasted leg of lamb from Connemara. There is just something about quality Irish ingredients!

    For those readers that love colcannon, here is a variation that is sure to be a hit.
    Make colcannon with any greens you have: cabbage, kale, spinach, collard greens, etc.
    Spread it into a greased, 9×13 baking pan.
    Make 6 wells in the the colcannon mixture, and crack an egg into each well.
    Top with shredded cheese – good Irish cheddar, of course!
    Bake at 350F/180C until eggs are set and cheese is bubbly.

    This makes a great meat-free meal, and uses ingredients that we almost always have on hand.

    Sláinte!

  14. A verry interesting recipe. Not to expensive or complicated but delicious. Perfect dish for students…

  15. Ugh. This was way too good. I’m on a kick for simple bread and cheese type meals, finished off with an Apple or some dried fruit. I feel like I’m feeding my family like they’re peasants lol. But if it weren’t so darned delicious!!…*nomnomnom*
    Definitely added to the rotation.

  16. Lisa McConnell says:

    I love this as does my cheese loving Australian family.. I sometimes add finely chopped cooked bacon, spinach and finely chopped onion

  17. This looks beyond delicious. I love both bread and cheese so I must try this! Thanks for sharing.

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