Panini–that trendy sandwich sold in coffee shops– likely had its humble roots in a plain old grilled cheese sandwich, which, come to think of it, was never actually grilled. It was flopped into a frying pan buttered side down, squashed with a lifter, flipped and served with a glass of cold milk. In Italy, panini is the plural term for a panino, a sandwich often served on ciabatta bread and filled with cured meats and cheeses. This week’s Food Matters Project challenge was to come up with a variation of Mark Bittman’s Chocolate-Cherry Panini. Why would I want anything but that wonderful combination? Fresh cherries. Quality chocolate. Can’t think of a better pairing. Head over to Margarita’s blog Let’s Cook and Be Friends to view the original recipe, and check out the other FMP participants’ variations here.
But I did come up with a combination that appeals to my palate. I headed down to True Grain Bakery for a loaf of local, organic, handcrafted cinnamon raisin bread and created an apple-cheddar panini that made a great lunch.
For two panini:
4 slices cinnamon raisin bread
1 apple, peeled and very thinly sliced
2 large slices of smoked cheddar, or aged white cheddar cheese
4 tsp. butter
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Butter one side of two slices of bread and place buttered side down on a baking sheet. Top with the sliced cheese, apple slices and second slice of bread. Butter the top slice.
Top with another baking sheet, then something very heavy like a cast iron fry pan or even a foil-covered brick. Let it sit for 5 minutes or so. Remove the weight and bake in the oven for 5 minutes. Flip and bake for 5 minutes more on the other side until lightly browned. Cut and serve warm. Sweet apples, smoky cheese, aromatic cinnamon bread. Yum!