23 March 2009

Panini Express

I got a panini press as a Christmas gift. A sleek and sturdy Breville from Williams- Sonoma, which is truly a thing of beauty.

Here I will confess that a panini is really just a toasted sandwich, so an expensive stainless steel clad sandwich masher is a bit of an extravagance, especially for me. I am not a big “toast” fan. I eat cold hamburger buns.
Crunchy things scratch the roof of my mouth. And yet, there she sits on my kitchen counter, my own panini press.

Naturally, I couldn’t own a panini press without an appropriate cookbook. I chose Daniel Leader and Lauren Chattman’s Panini Express. Leader owns and operates a bakery in the Catskills called Bread Alone. He gives you the required info on purchasing a panini machine, like buy one with a non-stick griddle so you don’t have to clean it with balled up paper towels and Q-tips. But, in the end, he is a pragmatist as I am; a panini is just a toasted sandwich.

So instead of merely focusing on a panini, Leader offers bread recipes, condiment recipes and some darn fine sandwich combos. The vibrant color pictures are a perfect example of gastro-porn. Like women in girly magazines, these sandwich are clearly sandwiches but not sandwiches that you have ever seen.

Here is Bread Alone’s...

Tuna Panini

One 6 1/2 ounce can oil-packed solid white tuna, drained well
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 scallions (white parts only), finely chopped
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Four 1/2-inch-thick slices rye bread
8 thin slices (4 ounces) Gruyere or Swiss cheese

Heat a panin or sandwich press according to manufacture’s instructions.
Combine the tuna, mayonnaise, scallions, capers, parsley, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Mash well with a fork to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Arrange the tuna on top of two of the bread slices. Top with the cheese. Top with the remaining bread slices. Put the sandwiches on the press, pull the top down, and cook until they are browned and crisp, 3 to 6 minutes, depending on how hot your machine is. Carefully remove from the press and serve immediately.

This book works, even if the only thing sitting on your counter is as old toaster.

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