Sunday, June 24, 2012

Clashing of Cultures

Well, it may not be a huge war, but our Sunday brunch was somewhat of a cultural dichotomy.  In our home, brunch is never complete without a pot of tea to two, but, sometimes, rather than the traditional brunch fare, we like to expand our horizons a bit.  Today was a case in point.

Most often, we have bacon or sausage with a German Pancake or Crepes, but every once in a while, we enjoy a hearty brunch with a little more pizazz.  And Panini sandwiches definitely have pizazz.  They are quite easy to make - really, they only take minutes, but they are hearty and filling and full of flavor.

We make our Panini's with either Ciabatta Rolls or thick slices of homemade French bread.  I lay the slices of bread open and fill both sides with wonderful meats, cheeses and vegetables.  After I put the two sides of the sandwiches together, I butter one side, lay the sandwich buttered side down on a medium/hot griddle and cover with an old (but clean) cookie sheet.  After the cookie sheet is in place, I put a large, cast-iron dutch oven on the cookie sheet, fill it with beans (to add weight) and put the lid on the dutch oven.  The weight of the dutch-oven and the beans compress the sandwiches, grilling the bottom, while melting the cheeses into the meats and vegetables.  Yumm!  After the bottom is sufficiently browned (about 5-8 minutes), I take the Dutch oven off the cookie sheet, remove the cookie sheet and butter the tops of the Panini.  Then, I turn the Panini over on the griddle and brown.  Once again, I replace the cookie sheet and Dutch oven, pressing down from time to time.  Soon, the cheese starts melting down the sides of the sandwiches and pooling in crunchy puddles as the base of the toasted rolls.

Both halves are laden
Using my Panini Press method
Buttering the tops, getting ready to turn them over
Just turned
You can be very creative with the ingredients you use with your Panini.  Our favorite combination is filling and full of flavor.  Generally, I make the sandwiches in halves.  On one half of the sandwich, I put Swiss cheese, Turkey, Pepperoni and tomato.  On the other half of the sandwich I layer Provolone, Ham, Italian Salami and green pepper.  Every once in a while I add green onions, chives and even mushrooms.  Other wonderful additions include peppercinis and olives, basically, whatever sounds good.

I like to serve Panini with pasta sauce for dipping.  It is so hearty that it rarely requires an accompaniment other than a light salad.  If you are looking for a quick, tasty meal, a Panini just might be the answer.  Oh, and don't forget the tea - they go remarkably well together!


  1. Before I whine about how tired I am listening to the window air conditioner hum I just have to ask, do you use your cook stove in the summer too?

    Just wondering Enola!

  2. i love getting creative with cooking foods and i admire your creativity in making a paninni without one of those special panini grill gizmos too. these sandwiches look amazing and i think i will be making something similar this week!

  3. Hello Enola!
    I found a terrific Panini press ON SALE and it is cast iron too! I love cooking with cast iron. Your tea table looks wonderful.

  4. Great idea to use the dutch oven. I use a brick wrapped in tin foil and it really works great. I learned this from a Cuban friend in Miami who used it to make Midia Noches and Cuban sandwiches.

  5. Your photos are beautiful!
    Thank you for the panini inspiration.
    Did you make your tea cozies? I've been meaning to make one myself and having seen yours I may now buckle down and do it!