Her name was Ainsley.
Back when I was doing my masters, I was a nanny during the day.
Ainsley was one of the sweetest things around. She was Snow White in size 00 pants. She was an excellent companion for coffee, and at 10 months old had a pretty adventurous palette.
When she wasn’t scoffing the left overs of her mum and dad’s cous cous and tagine for lunch, this is what she’d turn to.
Toast, (or wholemeal crumpets) topped with avocado and cottage cheese.
Once the domain of dieting ladies- along with half segments of grapefruit and leg warmers- cottage cheese is a bit of an unsung hero of dairy.
It’s cheap. The curds are cool, gentle and soothing. And there’s just enough lactic tang to make a soft little smear of avocado sparkle.
I soon got into a habit of making one serving for her and one for me.
Most mornings we’d sit side by side and eat while I read her bits out of the paper.
After six months of this Ainsley’s wonderful mum realised that leaving at 7.30 am to dash to an unforgiving corporate job, while her salary paid someone else to eat toast and read the paper to her daughter just didn’t add up.
I went on to work for one of their friends and then another. Then the day came when it was time for me to grow up too. So off I went and joined the corporate world.
‘Ainsley toast’ is still one of my favourite stand by breakfast/lunch/brunches when I’m working from home. These days I gussy it up with a bit of sliced chilli, lemon zest and plenty of salt and pepper, for a bit of extra punch.
Ainsley would be at school now. I wonder how she’d feel about this grown up version of our brunch.
I think she’d like it, lots.
aka tartines with avocado, cottage cheese, lemon and chilli
Makes 2 slices
2 slices of good sourdough (or 2 wholemeal crumpets)
1/2 a ripe avocado
2 tablespoons of cottage cheese (though ricotta or goat’s curd would also be delightful)
rind of half a lemon
half a red chilli, cut into thin slivers
salt and pepper
Here’s how we roll
1. Toast the bread.
2. Top the bread with a thin layer of smushed avocado.
3. Dollop the cottage cheese over the top and spread it around.
(If it’s for kids, you can stop there)
4. Sprinkle the lemon zest, red chilli, salt and pepper over the top.
5. Eat while reading the newspaper.