Friday, August 26, 2011

Hello, and welcome to Freelance Food, the TV series where I show you how to prepare authentic freelance cuisine at home. I'm your host, professional freelance writer Mel Campbell, and today we're going to be preparing a traditional freelance breakfast, Crazy Toast and Tea.

First things first: let's put the kettle on. While that's boiling, let's rinse out our signature tea mug. Freelancers prize these mugs. They choose them for their liquid volume capacity and their ugliness. Sometimes they think it's amusing to drink from a mug bearing the logo of a media organisation where they used to work. So today, we'll be making our tea in a News Limited 1Degree carbon neutrality initiative mug.

Traditionally, freelancers rarely wash their mugs between cups, and this one's built up a nice patina of tannins, but let's clean it by rinsing it out, adding a dash of baking soda and then rubbing it well in with the fingers. It really gets the inside of that mug white and sparkling again. My mum taught me that trick.

Now, let's get the loaf of bread out of the freezer, peel off two slices and pop them in the toaster. You can use whatever kind of bread you like, but today I'm using Home Brand multigrain bread. I chose multigrain for its fibre content, to reassure myself that I'm not going to die of colon cancer.

While that's toasting, grab a teabag and pop it in your mug, all ready for infusing. I like to mix things up, tea-wise, to maintain some interest in my day, but Dilmah is my favourite everyday tea. However, for a really authentic cuppa, choose Liptons, because that's what freelancers usually drink in offices where they're on contract.

If your kettle has boiled, now's the time to pour your cup of tea and let it infuse.

Your toast should be popped now, so it's time to start assembling your dish. It's called Crazy Toast because it was what they called it at Pushka, the cafe where I used to eat breakfast every day before starting work. But you don't have to be crazy to recognise these key flavours: Vegemite and avocado.

Grab your avocado and slice it in half vertically. Here's a little freelance kitchen tip: you don't need to use a sharp knife! A regular table knife will work just as well on a ripe avocado, plus it creates less washing up later, which is very important in freelance culture. Twist the two halves in opposite directions to separate your avocado.

Now here's where your knife starts doing some clever double duty. Dip it into your Vegemite jar and spread each piece of toast with a knob of Vegemite about the size of a 10c coin. Some freelancers like only a very thin scraping of Vegemite across their toast; but as I've grown more Australian over time, I like to spread it much more thickly. Also, it's very important to get your daily intake of vitamin B, because you have no sick days when you're a freelancer.

Take the avocado half without the stone and make thin vertical slices in the flesh, lifting out each slice onto the toast in turn. This means you never slice too much and waste any avocado, because those things are really expensive. When you eat avocado toast in cafés, they'll usually plate the avocado slices in a lovely fan-like configuration, but as you're at home you don't have to impress anyone. Just let them plop onto your toast until you judge there's enough.

Now, here's what I like to do: I hold each slice of toast in my hand and chop the avocado slices very finely in two directions with my knife, then use the side of the knife to smoosh the avocado into a delicious paste. Then I smooth it across the toast and it's done.

If I were having just plain avocado on toast, at this stage I might add some salt and pepper, or perhaps some hot sauce, because while avocado has that delicious creamy taste, it can be quite bland as well. But the great thing about Crazy Toast is that the Vegemite adds a delicious savoury quality to the avocado.

Now it's time to give that teabag one final jiggle and throw it in the bin. Some people like to squeeze it out first, but honestly that is too much work, so just make sure you stand right next to the bin when you lift it out of the mug, so you don't get any tea on the floor and have to clean it up later.

Some people have their tea black, but I take my tea with milk, not just because I like the taste but because milk is a great source of calcium, and since I'll be hunched over a computer for the next 12 hours my bones need all the help they can get.

The cleanup from this dish is really easy – just screw the lid back on the Vegemite and put it back on the shelf, and put your two avocado halves back together and put them in the fridge – it's like nature's cling wrap! Clean your knife with very hot water and leave it on the side of the sink for the mythical 'proper wash', but we all know you'll just use it again the next time you want to make toast.

The great thing about Crazy Toast is the number of variations you can create. Really let your imagination go, and you can come up with some delicious freelance cuisine. Substitute some tomato paste and hot sauce for the Vegemite to make Mexican Crazy Toast! And substitute some spreadable cream cheese for the avocado – we like La Vache Qui Rit triangles for their nostalgia value – to make Dirty Sanchez Crazy Toast!

As we always say here on Freelance Food, the wonderful thing about freelance cuisine is its ingenuity. You're only poor if you've got no story ideas! So bon appetit, and I'll see you next week.

I love this so much. I wish I had an avocado.
Responding to this a year later is so random, but I was hungry and all I had was some avocadoes and for some reason your post popped in my mind so I searched for it and am now replete with crazy toast and tea! Or, crazy bread and tea, because we don't have a toaster and bugger if I am going to turn on the oven to grill some bread. We don't even have any sliced bread today so I had to slice it myself which was enough extra work and a whole second knife, thanks very much. Cheers for the recipe!
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