Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Panini Perfection

By far, our new kitchen appliance that we have put the most miles on in our few short weeks of marriage is our Panini Press. There is just something magical about a machine that toast bread, melts cheese, and warms the inner ingredients all in one step. In my opinion, a panini is certainly not just another sandwich. Sure, before it goes onto the Panini press it is in actuality just a sandwich, but the transformation that occurs in those 4-6 minutes on the press is amazing. Lucky for us, there are a ton of really creative panini recipes available. We have tried several over the last couple of weeks and although this isn't our favorite - it is the only one we have made since I started blogging. This recipe is really good if you are a mushroom lover. And of course, you have to like goat cheese as well (which we both love, love, love it). I have to admit however that I didn't pick out this recipe because it contained goat cheese or mushrooms. The reason I decided to make this particular panini is because it called for truffle oil. And as some of you may know, truffle oil is ridiculously expensive. I had foolishly purchased it for a recipe a couple of months back and have been trying to find a reason to use it again to justify the cost. Ladies, this is the culinary equivalent of buying a really expensive outlandish pair of shoes that match absolutely nothing in your closet and having to go out and purchase outfits that will go with them (now are you with me?). So I figured this sandwich was a good shot at using more of that truffle oil that has been sitting untouched in my pantry for months.

Don't disregard this recipe if you dont' have a panini maker, I have read about several other ways to make a panini if you don't have an actual panini press (losers - just kidding). So I have listed them below:
  • Use a grill pan and place a brick wrapped in foil (or another pan) on the top of the sandwich to press it.
  • Use a griddle and the same brick technique above (you won't get grill marks on your bread this way , but you will still get the pressed effect)
  • And although I have never read of this technique - before I had a panini machine I used to use my George Foreman grill to prepare panini recipes. This approach usually smooshes the inards of the sandwich out - so it isn't as pretty, but desperate times call for desperate measures. (And if a girl wants a melty gooey sandwich, she will find a way to get it!)
Mushroom, Goat Cheese And Truffle Oil Panini
Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
1 pound mixed mushrooms, such as button, cremini, shiitake or oyster
1/2 pound fresh goat cheese, or other soft fresh cheese
2 tablespoons truffle oil*, optional
1 small focaccia loaf
1 small bunch arugula
*Can be found at gourmet and specialty food shops.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and 2 tablespoons thyme and cook for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until they are browned and soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let them cool for about 15 minutes. Put the mushrooms into a food processor and pulse a few times until they are finely chopped. (Alternately, you can chop them on a board with a knife.) Scrape them into a bowl. Crumble in the goat cheese and add the remaining thyme. Pour in the truffle oil, if using, and mix well to combine.

Cut the focaccia into 4 pieces, slice them horizontally, and drizzle with some olive oil. On the bottoms place 1/4 of the mushroom mixture and top with some arugula. Put the tops on and gently press each sandwich to flatten it slightly. Drizzle some more olive oil over the tops. (Picture below is before it is placed on the press and it is still "just a sandwich")

Place each sandwich on a preheated panini press and grill until the bread is toasted and the cheese begins to melt, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

FYI - I decided after this recipe that I don't even really like Truffle Oil, so I am chalking up that $12 as a loss and I won't be making any more recipes that require the modern culinary ingredient.


Anonymous said...

Glad I convinced mom to buy you that panini press for your shower ;)

Your sister,
Jessica from Rainbow Cupcakes

Woody said...

Good dinner, I love the panini grill. I ate on of the sandwichs for lunch the next day and it was very good. I sound like a broken record, always eating the leftovers for lunch the next day and commenting on how good it was even a day later.

mom said...

This is the first thing you blogged that I would not only not want to fix, I don't think I would even like to try it. It sort of reminds me in a way of the grilled eggplant sandwich from Italian Pie, but mushrooms have less flavor than eggplant. I am glad, however, to have decided to give you that Panini maker; you sure get a lot of use out of it.

Elizabeth F. said...

Mom, I know that isn't a compliment since you are not a picky eater and would try anything. So I am a little offended:-) But oh well - you did give me the panini maker so I forgive you. I will make sure that our next panini doesn't contain goat cheese or mushrooms!