AirFryday: Tripping on cheesy mushroom toasties

AirFryday: Tripping on cheesy mushroom toasties
Cheesy mushrooms: Tony Jackman’s cheesy mushroom and onion toasties, photographed in the Boekehuis, Calvinia. 18 April 2024. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

When you pick up a box of Francy Schoeman’s Langbaken cheeses while driving through Williston, thoughts turn to what you’re going to do with them. Luckily, you’ve packed your air fryer.

Would you believe that, when I was packing up to drive to Calvinia for three weeks of writing, I packed an air fryer too? That’s evidence of devotion, surely.

But it also adds another dimension to the question of just how useful, or versatile, these latterday kitchen contraptions are.

Imagine if you could pop your big old conventional oven in the boot when going on holiday? Well, nobody does that, surely. But that is precisely what the misnamed “air fryer” is (nothing fries in air, which means that its name is frankly a lie). But it is a convection oven, if not a conventional one. And they are so lightweight that carrying one out to the car is no sweat at all.

So from now on I’ll be packing it in the car whenever we go away to stay in rented self-catering accommodation along the way, which is our habit.

Your air fryer has a role to play in an open toasted “sandwich” in two ways. You can toast the bread or bun very lightly first, then, once you’ve given it your desired cheesy topping, it can go back in for the cheese to turn golden, oozy and melty. The cheese I used was Langbaken Stout Willis, which is a variation of their Williston, which is an excellent melting cheese. The stout variation is washed in Peter Schoeman’s homemade stout brew to give it a bit of an edge.

Stout Willis is a cheese that happened by accident. Peter is an avid craft brewer, and he suggested that Francy and her team make a washed rind cheese using his stout. Her assistant, John Feris, who is also known as Koos Kaas (read more about Langbaken, Francy and Koos Kaas here), at one stage made a batch of Williston that was too flat for Francy’s liking, so these were used to experiment with a stout wash. Success ensued.

But the other hero of this quick bite was the mushrooms, which I had cooked in my French copper pot with onion, garlic and thyme, finishing it off with a squeeze of balsamic reduction, for a bit of zing and a touch of sweetness.

(Makes 2 to 4 depending on how much cheese you use)


1 punnet of portabellini mushrooms, sliced

1 small onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

Olive oil

3 or 4 thyme sprigs

Balsamic reduction, a drizzle

Salt and black pepper

Langbaken Stout Willis cheese, grated, about a cup, or more if making 4

1 bread roll/bun, cut in half through the middle (or 2)



In a pot on the stove, heat the olive oil, add the onion and garlic with the thyme sprigs, and fry, stirring, until the onions have softened and started to turn golden.

Add the sliced mushrooms and cook on a high heat, stirring, until they have turned nutty and released their juices. Cook some of the juices away but not all.

Add some balsamic reduction, just a squeeze or so, and cook, stirring, for a minute. Season with salt and black pepper.

Preheat the air fryer to 200℃.

Put the two bread roll halves in and cook at 200℃ for three or four minutes, only until they attain a light crunch, but without colouring them.

Butter the cut sides.

Spoon the mushrooms and onions on top in a pile, as high as you can without the mushrooms falling off.

Grate some Langbaken Stout Williston, or a melting cheese of your choice, on top.

Pop them in the air fryer and cook at 200℃ for 4 or 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted. If you know your air fryer by now, you’ll know that you can open the door to check at any time, and just close it again if you want what you’re making to cook a bit more.

That’s a nice and easy breakfast, brunch or midday snack. DM

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Writer 2023, jointly with TGIFood columnist Anna Trapido. Order his book, foodSTUFF, here

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Pet Bug says:

    Way to go Tony, cooking on the fly.
    Delicious, I’ll try this.
    (I don’t yet have an Airfryer… but I always ask if I need to bring braai wood when I hit a Karoo drop self catering; which is never).

  • Craig Gordon Nain says:

    This is probably the best article Tony has written, in my humble opinion!
    It had me crying tears of mirth when considering various pronunciations of the name of Tony’s chosen cheese, especially with some Afrikaans influences!
    And I delighted in his intimation that the toastie is a quick bite yet with the mushrooms only arriving on the toast after a detour via his French copper pot to collect some travelling companions!
    L’chaim, Tony!

  • John Ridler says:

    Thanks Tony
    Great idea for a quick snack in my air-fryer.
    Is Langbaken cheese available in Johannesburg?

  • Lysergic Acid says:

    This article was misleading, I was expecting psilocin induced “tripping”. Anyways, I agree with Tony and am pleased by the remaining 99% of the article, I too travel with an air fryer it’s really a versatile piece if kit. I’m hoping for adventures with a Thermomix in the future.

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