Posh Cheese on Toast — aka Parmesan Cream on Tomato and Olive Toast with Edible Flower Salad

Cheese on toast was a won­der­ful ally when I worked nights as a break­fast tele­vi­sion report­er. The shift star­ted at 9pm and ended at 9am… and it was bru­tal. Com­plex­ion, fash­ion sense, good tem­per and appet­ite all dis­ap­peared through the met­al-framed win­dows of BBC Tele­vi­sion Centre by about 3.25 each morn­ing. Cheese on toast became the only sus­tain­ing, com­fort­ing thing to eat. 

I still love cheese on toast, des­pite its asso­ci­ations with cold, grey dawns wait­ing with a cam­era crew to ask huffy politi­cians why they weren’t tow­ing the party line on a single cur­rency. I like it so much that I’ve just made a posh ver­sion for old friends, includ­ing one of my fel­low night shift report­ers from all those years ago. 

At the end of our gruelling shifts we would decamp to the BBC canteen, so tired that we didn’t know if our cheese on toast and mugs of tea coun­ted as break­fast or din­ner.  This time around we ate our posh ver­sion at 9.30 in the even­ing, drink­ing  Sauvign­on from smart glasses. 

Parmes­an Cream with Tomato and Olive Toast with Edible Flower Salad

Serves 4

185 ml double or heavy cream 

160 ml full cream milk

150g Parmes­an cheese cut into very small pieces

2 eggs

1 extra egg yolk

100g mini­ature plum toma­toes

50g black olives

Pinch of sug­ar

Hand­ful of salad leaves and edible flowers

4 slices bread, either whole­meal or good qual­ity white

Olive oil

A little fine lem­on zest


4 small ramekin dishes, buttered well. 

Com­bine the milk and cream in a small pan and bring vir­tu­ally to the boil. Take off the heat, stir in the cheese, cov­er and let infuse for 2 hours.

Finely chop the toma­toes and olives, add a little salt and black pep­per, a pinch of sug­ar and put aside.

After two hours, pre­heat the oven to 180 degrees C — don’t be temp­ted to increase the tem­per­at­ure unless you want scrambled eggs. Place the pan con­tain­ing the milk, cream and cheese back on the heat and bring it almost back to the boil again. Strain the mix­ture through a fine sieve into a bowl. Whisk the eggs and yolk into a second bowl and then mix gradu­ally into the cream and cheese. Sea­son. 

Pour the cream and egg mix­ture into the buttered ramekin dishes and cov­er each with a disc of sil­ver foil. Place the dishes in an oven-proof tin, pour in enough hot water to reach half-way up the sides of the dishes and then bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove when the cus­tard is firm-ish but still a little wobbly. Care­fully take the dishes out of the pan of water and allow them to cool. 

Toast the bread and cut into circles about the same dia­met­er as the parmes­an creams. Pour off any liquid from the tomato and olive mix­ture and divide it evenly between the four circles of toast. Run the point of a sharp knife around the edges of the ramekin dishes, turn the dishes upside down and tip the parmes­an creams care­fully on top of the tomato toasts.

Dress the salad leaves in a little oil and grated lem­on zest and pile a heap of leaves on top of each cream. 

Parmes­an cream sounds more com­plic­ated than it really is. It’s infin­itely more demand­ing to make than its rugged cous­in, but eas­ily worth the effort.  Think of it as Chris­ti­an Louboutin heels com­pared to Wel­ling­ton boots. There’s a place for both.

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16 thoughts on “Posh Cheese on Toast — aka Parmesan Cream on Tomato and Olive Toast with Edible Flower Salad

  1. Thanks so much — some­times only the rugged ver­sion of cheese on toast will do, but it really did taste good…

  2. Good enough for a smart starter, I would say. Not sure about eat­ing violas though. Parmes­an instead of mousetrap sounds an inter­est­ing advance — must try it.

  3. The flowers are orna­ment­al, it has to be said. But, much more import­antly, they also taste deli­cious — juicy and ever so slightly pep­pery. Let me know if you try the recipe. I’d be inter­ested to hear what you think.

  4. I love using flowers in cook­ing and that posh cheese on toast looks so eleg­ant and tasty; I use marigold petals in salads as well as nas­tur­tium leaves and flowers too.
    A won­der­ful look­ing recipe and post.

  5. Hi Kar­en
    I haven’t tried nas­tur­tium leaves — what a good idea.
    Thanks so much for your lovely com­ment.

  6. Although I’m lactose-intol­er­ant, I LOVE dairy — cheese in par­tic­u­lar — and from time to time have some as a treat.
    This recipe goes straight into my spe­cial treats file!
    Deli­cious, and beau­ti­ful pho­tos.

  7. HI Cristina and thank you very much. I’m very flattered that you’re put­ting this into your spe­cial treats file!

  8. What a great blog, I just hopped over from A Trifle Rushed and you have a new fol­low­er from Ger­many! Need to read back all your art­icles and try out a lot…

  9. Hi Gretchen and thank you very much. My chil­dren didn’t hang about when it came to appre­ci­at­ing the aes­thet­ics. They just ate it!

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