One Thoughtful Panini…

I’ve eaten a lot of paninis, so many that I like to consider myself a panini connoisseur.  On my blog, I share the ones that stand out- this one stood out.  I went to Ballaro in New York on an early Sunday afternoon, unaware that they were only serving their brunch menu and not their regular menu, which included a long list of paninis.  Fortunately for me, my waitress and I devised a plan where we could create an amazing panini despite their limited Sunday ingredients.

Lo and behold this thoughtfully created panini, a perfect example of why two minds are better than one:

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This panini consisted of the basic Italian ingredients: Parmesan, arugula, olive oil, and Bresaola.  My waitress, who was from Italy, explained to me how they make Bresaola in her country.  It is an air dried beef, that has been aged for two to three months until it becomes this rich purple color (see next picture).

Much to my surprise, this panini was thoughtfully created in yet one more way:

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Mid bite, I noticed that the Bresaola had been grilled on the panini separately before grilled with the sandwich (notice the grill marks).  Genius!

PANINI TIP: Depending on the type of ingredients, grill the meats and veggies in your sandwich separately before you grill them all together.

 

Enjoy,

Sani

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Tempeh Time

Tempeh.  Many run from this word, as it is unknown to most.  However, I’ve slowly started to notice it’s becoming more and more ‘trendy’.  I started to explore this tempeh, what makes it both intimidating and attractive?  Fermented whole soybeans with mold, similar to tofu.  Tempeh is a meat substitute, it’s firm, dry and chewy and the best part about it is that you can get it smoked- tastes like bacon!!  Which is why when I first tried tempeh, it was smoked and I found it delicious.  At Candle Cafe, a vegan restaurant in New York, their menu featured many variations of tempeh.  I got a smoked temeph sandwich with roasted red pepper, roasted zucchini, arugula, with a tomato spread on whole grain bread.

Sani Panini Tempeh

Ways we can use temeph in panini form: replace your grilled meat with grilled temeph, try it smoked, grill it with some veggies on the panini with a soy sauce, and naturally add it into your next panini :).

*Did you notice the great panini grill marks on the tempeh?

Enjoy,

Sani

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

Fancy Panini

Have you ever had a fancy panini?  When I mean fancy, I mean not knowing what half of the ingredients are. I had the best fancy panini at a very little place in New York City called Salumé.  Their panini menu was amazing, it was divided into sections according to the meat.  I chose from the Prosciutto Crudo list of panini called Parma Black Label.  

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Literally, the only ingredients that looked familiar from the Parma Black Label was the young lettuce and the lemon aioli.  I had zero clue what Bottarga and St. George Gin were.  Bottarga originated in Italy where they would press dried eggs of tuna or grey mullet.  It ages anywhere from a couple weeks to a 6 months, and you watch the color change until its a deep orange.  It’s also described as ‘pressed caviar’.  Eventually I realized that St. George Gin was simply a type of Gin incorporated into the sandwich. 

The presentation was beautiful, on a wooden chop block with a Parmesan crisp and some well seasoned vegetables. 

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Here’s a close up picture so you can see how all the elements were layered:

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(Bottarga is the orange part on the very bottom.)

 

Another small cafe..

Small cafes seem to be the latest trend for me.  My extensive research lead me to another small cafe called ‘ino Cafe.  Just like Piccolo Cafe, this cafe had 18 seats and a wine bar.  This place was filled with an array of unique and creative paninis, tramezzinis, bruschettas, and even antipasti’s.  The food, ambiance, people, all make this a place that is definitely worth going to.

I had half of a panini and a salad.  The panini itself was absolutely amazing! It was on the best bread ever, and was grilled to perfection.  Inside there was cacciatorini, goat cheese and tapenade.  Cacciatorini is a salami cured with garlic, so good!  

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The salad that I got was completely out of my ordinary, but not at the same time.  It was a jerusalem artichoke salad with a parmesan vinaigrette.  At first, I was picturing jerusalem artichokes to be just like a normal artichoke but maybe chewier.  Wrong, they tasted just like a regular, but dryer potato.  Pretty good!  Both these dishes were very different than each other, they probably wouldn’t be the ideal pair.  But I, of course, always like to do something a little out of the norm.  Regardless, I enjoyed every second of it!

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During my Lunch Break….

While lunch breaks are usually the best time of the day for some, its usually a very stressful time for me.  Naturally, I love finding those great spots.  So, when I’m pressed for time and want a quick, quality meal, it often times can lead to me being stressed.  Wish I was kidding.  If there aren’t any good spots around your university/work place, find a deli- and make your own custom sandwich!  Which is what I did at a sandwich joint by my work called Lenny’s, modified one of their sandwiches to make it exactly what I wanted it to be.

Fresh is the best with this kind of sandwich.  This sandwich is on whole grain bread, with turkey, prosciutto, muenster cheese, shredded red cabbage, avocado, roasted red peppers, lettuce, tomato, and onion.  Obviously, I had to grill it!  (I like how you can see the melty cheese.)

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These colors are great, so here’s a closer shot:

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I kept hearing about this place called Via Quadronno, and how they had great panini’s.  So I went to try it one day, and they were great!  When I go back, which I probably will, I will make sure the bread is not in a baguette form and try it with Foccacia, or another type of bread that presses in the panini well.

My friend’s sandwich:

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And… this is my messy sandwich:

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Now closer up..:

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They’re not the prettiest, but they sure were tasty.  Mine, which was recommended to me by the waiter, consisted of:  prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, black olive paté, and fresh tomatoes.  My friends’ sandwich, vegetarian one, had goat cheese, tomatoes, chopped romaine, and black olive paté.

Both places were great, and made my lunch break feel as if I wasn’t going back to work!