Saturday, October 27, 2012

Cheese and onion bakes: 'Phlegm cakes'

Continuing my rifle through my mother's collection of yellowing, typed recipe cards to bring you our family favourites. (See cheese gunk).

I suppose I'd better explain the name first. The combination of melted hard cheese and onion does, I'm afraid, look a little bit like phlegm, and my brother christened them 'phlegm cakes' at the age of about eight. (He was very advanced). But if you wanted to keep your guests onside, I suppose you could call them 'cheese and onion bakes' or somesuch.

I'm writing this the same day I posted the cheese gunk recipe and musing that these family favourites are not at all what you expect from 50s American food - they're made from scratch, are very simple and taste GREAT. They really are both more than the sum of their parts. (Yeah, might've taken me a while to post.)

Should you be unsure what circles of bread  look like

First, use a small, cookie cutter to cut inch-and-a-half circles out of some white bread. The mix here made 16 cakes.

Then grate 1/2c of pecorino (other hard Italian cheese can be substituted if you like, but it tastes best with pecorino), grate 1 small onion (the worst bit!) and mix them together. I did grate the onion in my food processor, but it came out a little coarse. Add a 1/4c of mayonnaise.

As I've said, my take on American measurements is 'buy a cup measure', but I have weighed the pecorino and it came to 65g of pecorino. As long as they're in proportion, it doesn't really matter anyway. And you're just looking for enough mayonnaise to bind everything together.

Toast the bread in the oven for 8 minutes at 180C (or you could just eyeball it).

Rounds topped with mixture
Then top each one with about a teaspoon of the cheese and onion mix, and grill until the cheese is bubbly. You can top with some paprika, if you like, to provide a bit of colour and an extra taste.

The finished article

They taste fabulous and they're somehow addictive, too. Just a word of warning - don't bite them straight out of the oven. The superhot mix basically cleaves to the roof of your mouth and they're exactly the right size to burn the whole of it.

And here's the recipe card:


  1. There's a Swiss cheese called Schabziger which my family likes, which is the size and shape and colour of the pistachio Kulfi you get for pudding in curry houses. No, actually greener. Well smelly. I suspect that might work and, given the colour, look even more phlegmy!

    1. Ah, man - I've just realised I could've done a nice Halloween tie-in! Green would be brilliant for that. I've no idea whether Scandinavian brown cheese would work in these recipe, but you could do a whole spectrum!