One thing that people may not know about me is I have actually worked in a kitchen. When I was younger I worked my way from dishwasher to sous chef and then to manage my own kitchen. The only problem was that I was too young and burnt out after years of 60+ hour weeks. The restaurant business is a tough one. However cooking and food are a part of me. About 5 years ago it started to get fun again. Maybe it is because I have a kitchen with enough room to work that I enjoy, or maybe it was just time.
I have had dreams about opening my own place. It would not be anything fancy but it would be a fun place with a fully stocked bar and serve food that had big flavors. It would be a lot of work and take a lot of money. I am not sure I want that kind of pressure or risk at this point in my life. But who knows maybe down the road it will happen.
Like I said I have been playing again for the last five years. As a silly project I am working on a cookbook. Kim and I made one for our friends and family a couple of years back and it was a hit. It was a collection of family recipes and some of our own. The twist was we modified every single recipe with our own touches. To me that is what you should do with a recipe. Recipes are “guidelines” and are there to make sure you have a basic understanding of how a dish is put together. Hmmm…. that must be the reason I cannot bake! Baking is the opposite of that. Baking is much more a science as cooking is an art!
The fun thing about this next book is I have NO idea what I want it to be about. I have a ton of ideas but right now it is more about me experimenting in the kitchen and having fun.
For this session the subject was Paninis. Since I have been working on this blog all I ever hear about are grilled cheese sandwiches, sliders and so forth. Why not try working on the best Panini. Or is it really a grilled cheese done in a Panini press. Not sure, technically a grilled cheese is bread, butter and cheese. These days you can find all kinds of grilled cheeses. A Panini (or Panino) by definition is an Italian sandwich made usually with vegetables, cheese, and grilled or cured meat on a roll like ciabatta. I still have no idea because I made these with slices of bread! At this time I am calling them Panini. Maybe someone will let me know if this is correct or not.
We got ourselves a very nice Panini press, loaded up at the store and went to town. Here are the works that I have come up with so far. A few are similar but have tweaks as I work to get the best three to four different sandwiches. One thing to know about making a Panini and cooking in general, once you understand what ingredients work together it is pretty simple. One thing I learned a long time ago, don’t over think it. If you mess up you toss it and start over. A lot of the time you will create something unexpected that will delight you.
Here are the sandwiches that have been put together so far. Surprisingly they all came out good. However there were a couple that really stood out!
#1 – Grilled Sliced Turkey, Turkey Bacon, Arugula, Mozzarella, Smoked Gouda, and Dubliner Irish Cheese on French Bread
#2 – Grilled Sliced Turkey, Turkey Bacon, Fresh Basil, Sundried Tomatoes, Smoked Gouda, Provolone, and Dubliner Irish Cheese on French Bread
#3 – Grilled Roma Tomatoes, Sun-dried Tomatoes, Fresh Basil, Mozzarella, on French Bread with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Simple but perfect!)
#4 – Turkey Carnitas, Salsa, Fresh Cilantro, Mozzarella, on French Bread (One of my favorites)
#5 – Scrambled Eggs, Turkey Bacon, Smoked Gouda, Dubliner Irish Cheese on Whole Wheat
#6 – Scrambled Eggs, Grilled Turkey, Avocado, Salsa, Smoked Gouda, Dubliner Irish Cheese, Mozzarella, on Whole Wheat (Incredible)
I would love to see your comments if you have feedback or ideas for future test kitchen sessions!
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