Ratatouille

One of my favorite movies is Ratatouille, not just because I’m a foodie, because it’s just the greatest.  The title was clever, the plot was cute, and the location was perfect.  The ambiance and theme made me absolutely fall in love with this movie.  This also sparked my interest in Ratatouille…  What exactly is Ratatouille and how can this be made in a panini?

Ratatouille, which I assumed was French, actually originated from Occitania.  Occitania is a historical region in southern Europe which includes Monaco, parts of Spain and Italy, and the southern half of France.  This dish is a small representation of each these regions.  Usually, this dish is prepared by cooking each vegetable by itself and then layering it.  Over time, this dish has adapted to many different versions and methods of making.  The most modern approach to making ratatouille is by grilling it, which is how this relates to Sani Panini…

Ingredients:

Small Eggplant

Zucchini

Spanish Onion

Tomatoes

Garlic

Peppers (your preference of red or green bell peppers)

Olive Oil

Salt

Basil

Assembling (salad or layers):

1. Peel the eggplant

2. Cut the eggplant and zucchini into thin circles, relatively the same size

3. Drizzle olive oil and salt over the eggplant and zuchinni

4. Grill on the panini for 2 minutes

5. While they are grilling, start cutting the peppers and onions in slices and then cut in half.  So that the length of the peppers and onions are similar to the diameter of the zucchini and eggplant.

6. In a bowl, mash the garlic and add peppers, onions, olive oil and salt

7. Take the eggplant and zucchini off of the panini and add the peppers and onions for 2 minutes

8. Cut the tomatoes into slices (doesn’t matter if you are using cherry tomatoes or regular tomatoes)

9.  Take the peppers and onions off and cook the tomatoes for 1 minute

10. You can add all the ingredients to the panini now, just to warm them up, but leave the panini open

11. Chop some basil

12. Take all ingredients off of the panini and either mix together in a bowl with the basil OR you can layer them on a plate

*If you are making this into a salad, you can cut the veggies into thick cubes rather than slices.  I also like adding a touch of balsamic, just a little!!

**This makes great for leftovers!  You can add this into your eggs in the morning, or fry an egg and place on top.  You can also eat the salad cold, room temp, or hot.  While layering the veggies is best hot!

Enjoy,

Sani

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New Tricks for an Old Dog

Oh, the joys of going out to eat!  I enjoy eating out because it’s a chance to learn something new. Mom and pop joints are my favorite places to learn new techniques.  At Soup Spoon Café (located near the capital of Michigan), I got a bonus lesson on, none other than… the panini!!  This does not happen often- trust me!  In a prior post, I mentioned a panini place that had panini’s on french bread. However, it didn’t have the warm, grilled bread component that makes up a great panini.  Soup Spoon transformed their french bread to a “panini appropriate” sandwich.  How?? They flipped the bread inside out, genius.

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In this picture you can see how the inside of the french bread is now the outer layer, and what is usually considered the outer part of the bread- is now on the inside.

This sandwich consisted of slow roasted pork loin, caramelized onions, pickles and melted Gruyére cheese with their bistro sauce.

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Let me know if you try out this new trick!

 

Enjoy,

Sani

Oasis in a Desert

I found my own little oasis inside the ‘desert’ of Detroit, Michigan at a little place called Russell Street Deli.  Here people line up around the block, even in the dead of winter, just to wait to be seated.  The seating in the Deli is very unique, they have limited seating with only about 8 tables.  Each of these tables sit 6 people and they fill up these tables no matter how big or small your party.  If you go with a group less than 5, then plan on sitting and interacting with complete strangers!  I really loved this concept!  They have a great breakfast and lunch menu, and I was drawn to their vegetarian side.  I like ordering vegetarian sandwiches because I feel that the sandwiches are the most unique, creative and have the most variety of ingredients.  The trick to create that perfect sandwich (restaurant permitting) is to customize, maybe add my own choice of meat to a vegetarian sandwich.  When I was there, I ordered a grilled avocado melt.  The melt was served on grilled pumpernickel with avocado, tomato, provolone, lettuce, red onion, and my addition of smoked turkey, with a garlic mayo spread- all grilled of course!

 

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Up close shot:

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Contrary to common belief, Detroit is a city on the rebound with a recent infusion of great restaurants just like Russell Street Deli.  It’s full of life and booming restaurants and shops. Russell Street Deli is located right in the middle of the Detroit Eastern Market, where venders come from all over the state of Michigan to sell their homegrown crops and produce from vegetables to meats, and even seasonal goods such as Christmas trees, holly, etc.  There are speciality stores for wines, cheese, seafood, nuts, spices and so much!  If you are ever in the area, I would highly suggest stopping by on a Saturday (be sure to get there early)!

That’s a Wrap!

Have you ever tried grilling your favorite wrap on a panini maker?  If you haven’t, you should definitely try it! Its probably the best thing ever because you can put all your favorite things inside of the wrap and grill it, I bet you can imagine how much better it will taste!  This ‘recipe’ has no boundaries, so you can be as fun and creative as you want to. It’s the greatest!

Suggested Ingredients:

Wrap (Wheat, White, Multigrain, Spinach, Cheddar, Tomato, etc.)

Meat

Cheese

Colorful Veggies, a few examples are: Peppers, Onions, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Artichokes, Avocados, Spinach, Beets, but there are so many more!

Any dressing (Italian, Olive Oil with Oregano, Vinaigrette, etc.)

Assembling:

1. Take your wrap and put all desired ingredients inside.  Be sure not to overstuff the wrap because it can break!

2. Fold it tightly.

3. Grill on panini until you get those nice grill marks.

When its done grilling you can cut it into slices so it looks like a pinwheel  of colors and serve at a dinner party!

Enjoy,

Sani

Chicken Cordon Bleu Panini

When I used to hear someone say that they were making a ‘chicken cordon bleu’, I automatically assumed that they had to be some great, fancy chef. Little did I know that it’s actually very easy to make, and now we can all be those so-called great fancy chefs!!

Naturally, I have to add my own ‘college approach’ and transform this meal into a panini!

Ingredients:

2 slices of French bread (any kind will do)

1/4 lb. of deli style Chicken Breast lunchmeat (sliced normal)

2-3 slices of Prosciutto or deli style Ham (sliced thin)

2 slices of Swiss, Havarti or Gruyere cheese

Honey Mustard

Assembling:

1. Spread the honey mustard on both slices of the French bread.

2. Add one slice of cheese to one slice of the bread.

3. Start layering half of the chicken lunchmeat on top of the cheese.

4. Then add the prosciutto or ham.

5. Add the rest of the chicken lunchmeat.

6. Top it off with the second slice of cheese.

7. Lastly, add your second slice of bread.

8. Grill on the panini for 2-3 minutes (long enough for the insides to be warm and melty and for the outsides to be crunchy).

 

Layering order: Bread, honey mustard, cheese, chicken, prosciutto, chicken, cheese, honey mustard, and bread. 

If you have extra time and want to use chicken breasts, grill it on the panini for 8-10 minutes and then layer  it in the sandwich in place of the deli lunchmeat.  Although, it usually tastes better if the chicken is lightly breaded.  You could also make your own dressing, by using equal amounts of honey and mustard, with a splash of lemon juice, and a small spoonful of mayonnaise (if you like horseradish then add a little of that too)!  This is one of those recipes you can substitute the ingredients depending on your tastes/preferences!

Guys, this would go great with a beer!  And ladies too!

 

Enjoy,

Sani