For the first time in a long time dinner this week was a group effort. I am used to cooking everything before my friends show up and just sitting down to eat when they get there. This week a mostly new group was joining me so I decided on make-your-own panini night.
So you know the dynamics of the group – we all, once again, are Collegian folks. Jeremy has been coming over for most of the semester, not at all a picky eater, and is a computer nerd just like me. Hailey just got back from a semester in Russia, has a funny anecdote for any situation and a little extra cynical humor was added to the mix by Marissa. When we get together, a humorous evening always ensues.
Before everyone congregated at my apartment I set out for my trip to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients to make paninis. I grabbed turkey and pepper jack cheese from the deli, tomatoes, which I was excited to find in vibrant red and slightly firm this time of year. Also in my cart was bagged spinach – again I am plagued by the cold weather of California – and a loaf of bread from the bakery.
I asked Jeremy to bring over his George Foreman Grill because I am not currently in possession of a panini press or anything of the sort. So when the group arrived I plugged in the grill and asked all of them to compile the ingredients they wanted in their sandwiches so we could get started.
Hailey went first with all the ingredients except spinach. While the grill was warming up we buttered each side of the bread so it would turn golden brown with grill marks and attempted to put it in the grill. As it turned out the grill was a great source of humor while cooking.
As we put the panini on the grill we realized that the top half of the sandwich was slowly moving towards the front of the grill while the bottom half was staying in place. For the second sandwich we got our fingers involved – I know, not sanitary or food safe but we are friends so we dealt with it.
The thinner the bread, the less oozing there is. As much fun as it was to attempt not to burn ourselves on the Foreman while trying to keep the sandwiches in place, it is better to just go for a foccacia bread. I used French bread and because of its rounded top, the sandwiches basically fell apart inside and oozed through the whole grill.
As the night went on we got better at the sandwich grilling process so that by the time we took the photo the sandwich actually looked contained.
L’Chaim and B’Tay Avon (To life and eat well).
Recipe (for four):
1 pound deli turkey
2-3 sliced tomatoes
1/2 cup chipotle mayonnaise
1 loaf foccacia bread
8 slices pepper jack cheese
Slice foccacia in half horizontally and turn inside out so crust is on the inside of the sandwich. Butter the now-outside of the sandwich. On the inside, build your sandwich to taste with the cheese closest to the bread so that everything stays inside the panini. Place your sandwich inside your grill and let the cheese melt and turkey warm up – it should take about four minutes. Enjoy!
Staff writer Liz Sunshine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the individual author and not necessarily those of the Collegian.