The grilled cheese sandwich, like many food items, has transitioned from plain to couture. At one time somewhat floppy and slightly soggy with a knack for permeating the kitchen, it has hit the big time with entire cookbooks devoted to the melted sandwich.
What’s not to like? A hot sandwich beats a cold one any day and is much more forgiving. Leftovers take on a tasty new life, a tomato that’s about to turn is revived and a bland slice of bread becomes flavorfully caramelized.
Now given a grander stature, the grilled cheese has a more fitting designation … The Panini. And the Panini Press has arrived on the top of the list of gadgets that could be considered frivolous were it not for its true usability and value. There’s no end to suitable, delicious combinations – see links to recipes on the bottom of the page. But for a simple pleaser for all ages, try the Mini Panini recipe below for simple goodness. Kids go crazy over these.
If your interest is strictly sandwiches, the well-rated model below will expand your recipe repertoire significantly. The flat vs. ridged plates will more evenly conduct heat and be easier to clean.
Your sandwiches will have marks, but you’ll have a very versatile new cooking appliance.
FROM HOME: The Mini Panini
- French Baguette, cut in 1/2 inch slices
- Softened Butter
- White Cheddar Cheese, sliced
- Optional: Tomatoes, Spinach, Basil, Bacon, Ham or anything your taste buds find would go well between two slices of bread.
- Preheat the panini maker according to manufacturers instructions.
- Slice the baguette into 1/2 inch pieces. TIP - To avoid having your French bread go rapidly stale after purchasing, slice it into whatever size you typically use (I do a sandwich size and then slice for grilled cheese when defrosted) and freeze in a zip lock bag. Defrost on the counter or slowly in the toaster oven and slice.
- Cut or slice the cheese.
- Spread butter on one side of each bread slice.
- Drop half of them butter side down in the panini plate.
- Top with cheese and cover with the second half, butter side up.
- Drop top, let sizzle, open and eat.
TO HIGH END
If you’ve ever meandered the farmers markets at the San Rafael Civic Center or Marin Country Mart in Larkspur, you’ve likely come upon The Farmers Wife food truck and the emanating wafts of their outstanding melted sandwiches including Farm Egg & Arugula, Kimchee & Avocado and Magruder Ranch Smoked Ham, Gruyère & Mustard. Menu changes daily. They’re on the pricey side but well worth it.
Owners Kendra and Paul Kolling are on a mission to provide the best in locally sourced, seasonal products in keeping with the farming legacy of their extended family. Paul’s grandmother was the inspiration behind the unique, heirloom flavor blends in Nana Mae Organics apple juices which you can also find at the farmers market. With over 25 heirloom varieties, Paul farms in harmony with nature to bring out the best in the land.
And Kendra, as The Farmers Wife, sources the ingredients of her outstanding food truck sandwiches from local farms which set them a far notch above.
AND IN BETWEEN
And finally, another eating option at the Corte Madera Town Center. Parked outside the center entrance you’ll find The Melt Bus and a few tables for dining.
The menu of all-natural, wholesome items includes everything from the classic grilled cheese to braised short rib and pepper jack to aged swiss, portobello and grilled onion. They also have soups and milkshakes as well as breakfast options.
The Melt Bus is open Friday to Sunday, 11am-3pm.
Here are a few recipe links worth checking out.
Happy Grilled Cheese Day on April 12th!