My all time favourite meal when I was a kid was a recipe my big sister and I learnt on the Curiosity Show (ah Prof Rob and Dr Deane, so many memories). It was called Dragon Toast on the show and consisted of grated cheese, milk and butter mixed together.
I’m sure the mini-gourmands of Junior Masterchef would be horrified to know that the fromage du jour was Kraft Cheddar cheese, so soft you could use it to take fingerprints, and came in a blue cardboard box.
Once you’d combined your very soft cheddar cheese with butter and milk, it was piled on a piece of bread toasted on one side only (toasting it on one side under the grill was a novelty for someone who thought bread magically appeared from toasters), and then grilled.
The time it took for the cheese to melt and then go all gooey and yummy was the longest time of my life!
It was partly the name that grabbed me; my favourite stories at the time were folk and fairy stories collected from around the world by Ruth Manning Sanders. There was one volume dedicated to dragon tales and the foreword made it clear that “not all dragons want to gobble up princesses”. I wanted a pet dragon so much, it would have become best friends with the imaginary dolphin that lived in our swimming pool.
If I’d had a dragon I’d easily have solved the problem of toasting on only one side of the bread, I’d hold the bread out to my dragon and he would have breathed out a gently lip of flame to make my toast golden brown.
Years later I found out Dragon Toast was a kid friendly version of Welsh Rarebit, and writing this it’s only just struck me that calling it Dragon Toast was the Curiosity Show’s boys joking around, the dragon is the national symbol of Wales. I made the acquaintance of several dragons during my overnight stay in Cardiff a few months ago (mainly of the architectural and chocolate type, but I’m sure the others were just off on holidays).
Now I use a variation I saw Jamie Oliver make: mix grated cheese, ricotta, an egg, mustard and pile onto a thick slab of freshly cut crusty Italian bread, grill, then top with Worcestershire Sauce.
It’s a fantastic quick meal for brunch, lunch or even dinner, and just the thing to serve any dragons that happen to drop by.
And since today is Chinese Lunar New Year and it's the Year of the Dragon, you just might get the occasional dragon coming aknocking at your door!
Kung Hei Fat Choi everyone!