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Posts Tagged ‘sandwich’

Italian Panini

Italian Panini

More Griddlin’ going on in the kitchen of Dr. Domestic.  I was sitting in a scientific seminar today, at 4:30pm on a Friday, and my mind drifted off to what I was going to make for dinner.  Don’t judge me, is your mind really on the ball that close to quittin’ time on Friday afternoon?  My brain (guided by my growling tummy) kept coming back to paninis.  So easy and so good, and the husband is always up for it.  I settled on Italian Paninis.  The options for fillings are endless, so I just picked my favorites, and some of Greg’s favorites too.

The most time consuming part of these (by far) was preparing the balsamic carmelized onions.  When the hubby and I go to one of our favorite local restaraunts, Ingredient, we always get pizza with balsamic carmelized onions.  And every time we taste them, Greg says, “Oh these are so good, you should make them at home.”

So I finally tried it tonight.  Carmelized onions are not hard, they just take a bit of time.  Mostly unsupervised time, thankfully.  My onions turned from this:

uncooked onions

uncooked onions

To this, in about 45 minutes.

carmelized onions

carmelized onions

Here’s how: Thinly slice 2 medium sized onions and put them in a non-stick skillet with about 2 tsp olive oil.  Add about 1/4 tsp of salt and 1 tsp sugar and allow them to cook over medium low heat, stirring every few minutes, for about 45 minutes.  About 10 minutes before they are done, add about 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar.  Once they are done, taste for salt/sugar and adjust to your liking.

mmmm, balsamic-y goodness

mmmm, balsamic-y goodness

And after the onions were done cooking, it was easy sandwich assembly.

First layers: Provolone cheese and pepperoni

Layers #1 and 2

Layers #1 and 2

Next up, hard Salami and peppers.  I chose the hot pickeled banana peppers (on the left), Greg opted for the sweet roasted red peppers (on the right).

Layers #3 and 4

Layers #3 and 4

And finally, fresh basil and the carmelized onions on the flip side.

Layers #5 and 6

Layers #5 and 6

Now just lightly butter the outsides and toss them on a panini press, heated to medium.  They cook in about 8 minutes.  Alternatively, you can cook them in a big skillet, weighted down with a foil covered brick or cast iron pan.

I don’t need to give you a recipe for these right?  Just put what you want to on them!

Instead, I’ll leave you with a couple lessons learned from my experience tonight.  Cut up the basil before putting it in the sandwich.  The large leaves kept coming out of the sandwiches whole as we’d bite into them.  Also, use hearty, crusty bread.  The sourdough bread I used was a bit flimsy and wasn’t quite up for the task of handling the load of ingredients I saddled it with.

Otherwise, the dinner I made tonight turned out to be very tasty.  On the side we had some kettle-fried salt and black pepper potato chips.  Have you guys tried those?  They’re dangerously good!

dinner

Prep Ranking: #2 – Weeknight Fare
Tastiness Grade: 8.5/10
– better bread would bump it up slightly!

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Ham, Apple and Blue Cheese Panini

Ham, Apple and Blue Cheese Panini

I’ve been a bit M.I.A. from the kitchen the past few days.  Very, very busy at work lately, plus I’ve been having mouth issues.  My issues stem from (yes I’ll admit it) my poor flossing habits as well as a medication I take that has a lovely side effect of mouth sores.  Sorry for sharing too much, but I have to have some valid excuse for the fact that my last two dinners have consisted of Ramen Noodles and Hot Dogs.  Both very gum-friendly foods.  Have you ever noticed that all the good foods in the world are crunchy?  Well, that’s not true, but it certainly seems that way when your mouth feels like one big, exposed nerve.

So I’m back on the horse tonight, in a big way with these crusty, crunchy panini sandwiches.  This recipe was inspired by the Harvest Ham sandwich at a fabulous restaraunt here in Lawrence, Freestate Brewery.  Greg fell in love with the sandwich, which is only available seasonally, so he asked me to try making it at home.  I was looking for excuses to use our fun panini press we received as a wedding present.

The main components of the sandwich are Ham, tart apple and blue cheese crumbles.  Oops, I gave that away in the title didn’t I?  Since I’ve never actually eaten the sandwich at Freestate, I had to take a guess at what kind of dressing was used to moisten the bread on the inside of the sandwich.  I’m not a mustard fan, and I didn’t think mayo would go well.  So I whipped up a balsamic vinegrette and it worked absolutely perfectly.

Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

After whisking it up with some salt and pepper, spread it onto some good quality sour-dough with a pastry brush.

Vinagrette on the bread

After that, its just sandwich assembly.  First the ham, then the thinly sliced apple, then the blue cheese.

The Perfect Combo

The Perfect Combo

Squish it all together and lightly butter the outsides.

Sandwich Assembly Line

Sandwich Assembly Line

Throw it on a hot panini press and let it toast and heat through.  The apple will soften and the cheese will melt.

Gettin' Pressed

Gettin' Pressed

If you don’t have a fancy panini press, you can put them in a heated cast iron (or nonstick) pan with another heavy (or weighed down) pan, lined with foil, an top of the sandwiches.  This really does work well, I did it for a long time before the fancy panini press entered our lives!

A very CRUNCHY dinner

A very CRUNCHY dinner

As I was easing back into the whole food preparation thing tonight, a side dish was beyond the scope of my abilities.  Hence the tortilla chips and roasted tomatillo salsa.

Oh, and if you have just a tiny bit of ham leftover, and maybe a spare slice of apple and a wayward crumble of blue cheese, you won’t be sorry if you just smoosh it all together and pop it in your mouth.  Its a magical combination 🙂

Leftovers? No Problem!

Leftovers? No Problem!

Prep Ranking: #2 – Weeknight Fare
Tastiness Grade: 8.5/10

Recipe after the break.

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