"This is a journey of my life since I was all of 12 yrs when I started my hand in cooking to now with displays of my learning and creations of recipes from around the world. My inspiration and role model has always been my Mum who has always created dishes from around the world and excellently well. I do not believe I would ever match to her culinary skills. I remember the times she could cook and bake almost 4-5 dishes in one go without ever letting one go under cooked or burnt! I was born and raised in Dubai, UAE and recently moved to India for family reasons. Kitchenette just means that over the decades, my kitchen has changed from that of my mum's to my uncle and aunt's, to my home in UAE and now in India. Pala't'te, describes both global cuisines ('Palatte'-diverse flavours) and pleasing diverse 'Palates'."

Monday, 11 June 2012

Two Cheese Panini with Italian Pork Salami

This appetiser was inspired from our recent trip to Roma. Of course we tried different kinds of Panini all over the place and most of them were sold at food carts in front of or within historical places or tourist areas.

My Panini breakfast
I have been trying to get a hold of Ciabatta bread when I learnt from one of our new acquaintances in Italy that the bread needs to be firm and thick on both slices so as to hold all the layers within. I have had the George Foreman's Lean Mean Grilling Machine for a while now and bought it from one of the stores in Dubai, UAE. This is a neat device and helped me to grill the pork and the bell peppers before adding it to the Panini bread. It also was close to what a Panini maker looks like and achieved so I was thrilled to try it out to make my first ever Panini.

George Foreman's Lean Mean Grilling Machine

I looked all over town and found a neat loaf of multigrain bread from Vac's Hyderabad last afternoon. It was perfect for the Panini.
Multigrain bread from Vac's
Now of course there are tons of various options whilst making Panini but the first thing you need to get right is the bread. You cannot use ordinary bread. You have to get the texture, thickness and firmness of the bread right. It cannot crumble. Also if you are buying or making a loaf you need to ensure that you cut it right. Both halves have to be strong to withstand the 'press' of the Panini maker and should not spill out or break free from the bread.

You can use various types of cheeses Parmesan - Reggiano, Gruyere, Mozzarela, Provolone, Asiago, etc. I used the Gruyere and Parmesean. Gruyere has a hardened texture almost woody at the edges so I removed the edges and shredded the cheese. You can also add a combination of Parmesan, Mozzarela, Provolone, Asiago and mix them in a bowl before using it on the bread. You can also do this with other cheeses but hey I am no cheese expert, just learnt a few on my trip. There are also several varieties of leaves to use basil, flat leaf parsley, Arugula (superb choice), etc. Pimento is also an excellent choice but I did not have it here in India. The closest I would get here is Pitted olives with Pimento stuffing and you could shred or diced the olives finely and use it with the pimento stuffing (make sure to drain for bottled versions). In terms of meats there is a wide variety of ham, bacon, salami, sausages, chicken breast, etc. For the vegetarians, zucchini, mushrooms, egg plants. Dressings can vary from a simple olive oil to Tomato Puree, mayonnaise, ketchup, pesto sauce, salad dressing,etc.

This was what I used for our Panini breakfast this morning.

You need:

  • Panini Maker / Griddle with a heavy pan to press down / George Foreman's Lean Mean Fat Grilling Machine 
  • 4 slices of Ciabatta bread or Multigrain bread loaf (ensure that the loaf is thick and when cut evenly has the same surface area on both sides), cut in half to make 2 Paninis and then cut equally in half. In case the bottom half has a less wider surface area from the top then ensure that it is cut as the thicker half so as to support the filling

  • Panini Loaf

    First cut in half
    Second cut one half in two equal halves
    Once the Second cut was incorporated, with EVOO brushed on

    • Olive oil - to brush on the bread halves
    • Green pitted olives with pimento stuffing - 4-6 for each Panini
    • Gruyere Cheese - Shredded - take quantity to your liking
    • Parmesan - Reggiano - take quantity to your liking
    • Homemade Tomato Puree or store bought - 1 tbsp each for each Panini or Tomatoes finely sliced, half each for each Panini
    • Bell Peppers - half each for each Panini, finely diced and grilled on the grill machine
    • Pork Salami, sliced - added about 4 slices for each Panini
    The Pork Salami waiting to be cut
    • Arugula leaves-3-4 for each Panini or fresh flat Spinach leaves - sauteed in olive oil  or slightly boiled
    • Basil leaves  1 tbsp each for each Panini
    The make:

    Cooking Time: 15 minutes| Preparation Time: 10 minutes|Serves 2 adults

    • Brush a little EVOO on both sides of the grill before use. Grill the pork slices on the grill machine for about 5 minutes. The best part of this grill is that you do not need to turn over. It cooks both sides at once. Do not crowd the grill.
    • Once the bread is cut, brush the bread halves with a little EVOO (mixed with some of the grains left in the bag from the bread as shown in the picture above)
    • Next add some of the Parmesan cheese on one of the halves. Top with Arugula or Spinach leaves. Add the grilled pork slices and add some of the shredded Gruyere.
    • Top with the basil leaves. Add the bell peppers and top with some of of the shredded Gruyere and Parmesan
    • Cover with the second slice of the bread
    • Place carefully on the grill without spilling and close and press down

    Press down the prepared bread

    • Let it go for about 5 minutes and then using a wide spatula take it out onto a serving plate and serve with a side salad or your favourite side dish (choices could be baked fries, green salad, chick peas, etc)

    My first Panini

    My first Panini served up

    Panini anyone?
    Tip: To get this criss-crossed look on top of the bread make sure that when you place the bread the first time, it is slightly titled and then half way through tilt it again.

    For those of you who do not have a grill or a Panini Maker, please click here to learn more how to make these delicious Paninis or check the How-To or Tips@ The Kitchen tab on my home page for another alternative. You have umpteen number of choices for fillings. I have only listed a few. Again I have listed this appetizer as a snack or breakfast but you can also have it for lunch or dinner and with a nice little side dish what more of a delicious wholesome meal could one ask for?

    Hope you enjoy! Bon Appetit..

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