Today's column is not so much about cheddar cheese as the way it is used in rarebits, those cheesy-toasty things with a bite.
There are four listed in Mrs Beeton's Cookery and Household Management, a 1960 tome, delivered into my trembling hands last week by Christine Henderson, which fell open at the After-Dinner Savouries section.
Complete with illustrations and a much-altered text, the 1344-page door- stopper - a gem in its own right - bears little resemblance to Mrs Beeton's original bestseller, published 100 years earlier.
Believing the rarebit was strictly Welsh, I was delighted to find Irish and Yorkshire versions keeping it company, along with a Buck rarebit - the Welsh job topped with a poached egg. So the Welsh have the running.
In fact these delicious snacks started life as "rabbits", back when rabbit was the poor person's meat, and cheese was the poorest person's rabbit. Some sensitive soul coined the new word, no doubt to disguise this unpalatable truth.
In Mrs B 1960, the Yorkshire rarebit is the Welsh one with the addition of ham, while the Irish add 1 teaspoon vinegar and 1 dessertspoon chopped gherkins to the cheesy mixture.
But wait, there's more. The original Mrs Beeton has two rarebits. The Scotch one calls on "a few slices of rich cheese", toast, mustard and pepper, and the Welsh one butter, Cheshire or Gloucester cheese, mustard and pepper. (Despite these few ingredients, the instructions run to 200 words.)
More than a century earlier, in The Art of Cookery, Hannah Glasse throws light on some novel methods for preparing English rarebits.
"To make an English rabbit, toast the bread brown on both sides, lay it in a plate before the fire, pour a glass of red wine over it, and let it soak the wine up. Then cut some cheese very thin and lay it very thick over the bread, put it in a tin oven before the fire, and it will be toasted and browned presently. Serve it away hot.
"Or do it thus. Toast the bread and soak it in the wine, set it before the fire, rub butter over the bottom of a plate, lay the cheese on, pour in two or three spoonfuls of white wine, cover it with another plate, set it over a chafing-dish of hot coals for two or three minutes, then stir it till it is done and well mixed. You may stir in a little mustard; when it is enough lay it on the bread; just brown it with a hot shovel."
Elsewhere I discovered that adding chopped tomato to a Welsh rarebit turns it into a Blushing Bunny!
Today's recipe, which I have modernised from the 1960 Mrs B, is a bit like a mousetrap on steroids.
Great for a lightish lunch or a pick-me- up while watching re-runs of Downton Abbey.
Makes 4 rounds
1 level Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp ale or beer
1 tsp prepared mustard
Few drops Worcestershire Sauce
180g grated cheddar
4 slices ham, chopped
Salt and pepper
4 slices buttered toast
Heat butter in a pan over a low-medium heat and stir in flour.
Cook for 3 minutes, stirring all the time.
Add milk, a little at a time, and stir constantly until mixture is thick and smooth. Stir in ale, mustard and Worcestershire sauce, then cheese, then ham, and a good pinch of salt and pepper.
Stir to combine until cheese has melted.
Spread mixture on toast and grill until golden-brown. Serve at once.
Cook's tip: I always make rarebits and similar sauces in a 20cm heavy bottomed non-stick pan with my favourite stirrer, a straight-edged bamboo spatula.
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