What do you like to dip into a soft-set egg yolk? While there’ll always be a place in our hearts and breakfast tables for toast soldiers, we came up with 10 new ideas, from candied bacon to croque monsieur...
For all the beautiful breakfast and snazzy brunch recipes we’ve created to make your mornings that little bit better, sometimes going back to basics makes for the best wake up call of all - and you don’t get more deliciously basic than plunging hot, buttered toast soldiers into a soft egg yolk. So once you’ve perfected your method, just-set white and creamy yellow yolk, it’s time to set to work on jazzing up the mandatory accompaniment – soldiers.
Top 10 soldiers to serve with boiled eggs
1. Anchovy butter
How do you like your fish in the morning? We like ours beaten with butter – namely a few anchovy fillets chopped and whipped into soft butter. Add chopped herbs of your choice, spread the heady hit of umami onto hot toast and enjoy.
2. Rarebit toasts
Try cheese on toast with a difference by creating a flavoursome rarebit spread. Mix together 200g grated cheddar, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 2 thinly sliced spring onions and a beaten egg. Toast slices of sourdough on one side, then spread over the mixture before popping them back under the grill for three minutes until the cheese is melted and golden
3. Cream cheese & smoked salmon
Dense rye bread is ideal for dunking. Top with whisked cream cheese spiked with a touch of lemon juice, then add slices of smoked salmon.
4. Croque monsieurs
Nobody does toasties quite like the French. Create mini versions of this cheese and ham classic by mixing together 100g of grated Gruyère, a 200ml tub crème fraîche and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard. Season with salt, black pepper and a pinch of nutmeg and spread half the mixture over five slices of white bread. Top each one with a layer of cooked sliced ham and another slice of bread.
Then, spread softened butter over one side of the sandwich and place on a baking sheet, butter-side down. Top the unbuttered side with the rest of the cheese mixture and another 50g grated Gruyère. This can be assembled the day before and chilled. To serve, bake in a preheated 190C/170C fan/gas 5 oven for 20 minutes or until golden, then slice the sandwiches into soldiers and serve straight away.
5. Fried bread
Fry thick-cut soldiers of white bread or brioche in butter until golden. Perhaps serve alongside a healthy breakfast juice to counteract the wonderful decadence.
6. Asparagus wraps
Make the most of springtime spears by blanching 20 asparagus tips in salted, boiling water. Drain them well, then quarter the five slices of ham into shorter strips, then wrap around the middle of each spear. Serve hot or cold.
7. Pigs in blankets
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again, pigs in blankets are not just for Christmas. For these porcine dippers, heat your oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Take 24 slices of pancetta and stretch each out on a chopping board using the back of a knife. Put a sage leaf and chipolata sausage on top of each, then roll the sausage up on the diagonal, covering all of it. Put on a lightly greased baking sheet and repeat with the remaining sausages. Cook for 20-25 mins until crisp and cooked through.
8. Candied bacon
We’re big fans of the whole salty-sweet thing, and these bacon rashers can be used for egg-dipping or in any other breakfast scenario. Cook rashers of bacon in the oven on parchment-lined trays until just about ready. Remove the trays and brush the bacon with maple syrup – return the tray to the oven to crisp up.
9. Chorizo soldiers
Create little pressed, compact dippers filled with a Spanish-style concoction. Spread a thin layer of sundried tomato paste on two slices of bread. Put a layer of sliced chorizo onto one slice, then top each with the another slice of bread and press together with a rolling pin. Repeat with as many slices as you like. Heat the grill and toast the chorizo sandwiches. If the layers are starting to separate, press them together again with the rolling pin. Trim off the edges and slice into 1cm-thick soldiers.
10. Polenta and tapenade
If you’ve not tried polenta set then griddled, we suggest you give it a try. Bring 700ml vegetable stock in a saucepan, then reduce to a simmer. Pour in 140g instant polenta in a steady stream, stirring constantly, then cook for five minutes until thickened. Stir in 2 tablespoons of chopped, fresh basil and seasoning. Spread onto an shallow, oiled 24 x 18cm tin then leave to set for an hour.
Cut the polenta into rectangles and heat a griddle until hot. Brush each one with oil and grill for four or five minutes on each side, until crisp and golden. Top each soldier with half teaspoon of tapenade and half a sundried tomato.