Here we are, once again – the time of year when I usually share a year-end mini Panini Happy cookbook download, featuring my favorite recipes. Well, this year brought the exciting announcement of my first real cookbook, to be published in 2013. I have been waist-deep in recipe writing and photography for many, many months now – I can’t wait for you all to see it when it comes out!
So as I wrap up the “big book” this year’s “Best of” will come in the form of a blog post, but fear not – I’ve still got a special holiday download for you coming up next week. In the meantime, please enjoy My Best Panini Press Recipes of 2012:
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1. Brie, Basil, Bacon and Blue Panini (4/16/12): Brie, basil, bacon and blue…it’s just a happy coincidence that all of these great ingredients start with “B”. They happen to combine into a pretty amazing grilled cheese sandwich. The tangy flavor of the blue cheese almost borders on sweet amidst the smoky bacon, fresh basil and creamy Brie. I couldn’t crunch my way through that baguette fast enough.
2. Avocado-Bacon Toasts (5/21/12): Who would ever guess that smashing a creamy, ripe avocado on grilled bread with a squeeze of lime juice and a sprinkling of salt could be so…well, actually when you start to visualize it in your mind it’s easy to imagine why avocado lovers fall for this treat.
3. Rajas Grilled Cheese Panini (4/19/12): Grilling rajas – strips of chiles and onions – is an easy job on the panini press. It takes just minutes to get them nicely charred. Pile them on a sandwich with pepper jack for a spicy grilled cheese or, to tone down the heat, opt for Monterey Jack.
4. Wild Mushroom Melt Panini (10/11/12): In my experience, there aren’t many foods that can’t be remarkably enhanced by sautéing them in olive oil and butter with garlic and shallots and finishing them with some balsamic vinegar. Mushrooms, it turns out, are no exception.
5. Grilled Cheese Panzanella Salad (7/15/12): It’s a fun twist on the classic Italian summer panzanella salad. In place of the traditional panzanella croutons I made mini grilled cheese croutons. You just toss them in with ripe tomatoes, red onions and basil in a light vinaigrette – a fresh and summery salad and sandwich all in one.
6. Grilled Brie with Honey and Toasted Pecans (11/29/12): Simply grill a 1/2 pound wheel of Brie right on the panini press until it’s melted and oozy, then serve it drizzled with honey and toasted pecans and grilled baguette slices. Keep these simple ingredients on hand and you’ll be ready the next time unexpected guests show up at the door.
7. Honey Walnut-Crusted Aged Cheddar Panini (6/18/12): I fell in love with Beecher’s Handmade Cheese when I visited Seattle this past spring. I was thrilled to find it sold in my local grocery store back at home. I grilled it into a pretty fabulous sandwich with a sweet and crunchy honey walnut butter crust.
8. Grilled Asparagus Tartines with Fresh Ricotta and Scallions (3/12/12): This was the most fresh-tasting little sandwich snack I’d had in a while. I made them in full sandwich size, but you could easily make a mini crostini version and serve them as green springtime appetizers.