Now, imagine that the creamy cheesy topping was a little thicker not of pouring consistency but of spreading consistency. Imagine that there were bits of smoked ham in it. Imagine split hamburger buns topped with this ham and cheese spread. Then, imagine these split buns going into a very hot oven until the topping bubbles and browns lightly. Finally, imagine taking the hot bread from the oven and biting into it just as soon as it is cool enough to handle. Can you imagine it? Can you? Well, you can go beyond imagining. And I tell you the real thing is a hundred times better.
I never really thought of using pasta topping on bread until I saw Nigella Lawson make something similar in her cooking show, Nigella Feasts. It was from her that I got the idea of adding mustard to the mixture. The bits of ham came to me in a moment of inspiration. The moment I tasted the finished product, I just knew that it would be one of those things that kids will love. Mine did. I was thinking that it would be a good alternative to mini pizza for a children’s party.
Ready for the recipe? Just one more thing. When I decided to do this little experiment, I conducted a second experiment along with it was it possible to take step-by-step photos without anyone’s help? The kids were in school and my husband was at work… I set up the camera on the tripod, focused the lens on the cooking pan, set the timer, and pressed the button each time I wanted a photo. The result? Over medium heat, melt half a cup of butter in a saucepan. Add 4 tbsps. of flour all at once and stir until smooth. Cook for a few minutes until the mixture browns a bit this should remove any trace of floury taste.
Slowly pour in about two cups of milk, stirring continuously to prevent lumps from forming. The mixture shouldn’t be too thick at this point it will get thicker after you add the cheese so, ideally, the mixture should be fairly easy to stir at this time. When all of the milk has been incorporated, turn the heat to low and add about a cup of chopped smoked ham. I also added about a tablespoonful of chopped pimientos but if you don’t like pimientos, the smoked ham will do. Stir to blend. Add about 250 grams of quick-melt cheese that had been cut into small cubes. Stir until the cheese melts and the mixture is fairly smooth.
Split some hamburger buns and spread the ham and cheese mixture on top. Not just spread, really pile it on; the thicker, the better. Make sure that you cover the entire surface to the edges. If the edges are exposed they will brown and toast too fast before the topping gets all gooey and bubbly. Take it from me, the edges of my first batch of toasties were too brown around the edges. The buns in the photos above and below were the second batch I made.
Grill (upper heat only) in a very hot oven for a few minutes until the tops are bubbly and lightly browned in spots. Note that while the sides of the bread will be a little toasted, the inside which had not been touched by direct heat will be soft and moist. It will sound too self-serving already if I say again that the ham and cheese toasties were great so just try them to experience what my kids and I did. Suffice it to say that it’s the new craze in the house.