Dinners on Sunday are usually really late lunches, since we usually get off to a late, lingering start at breakfast. I always liked the idea of hosting big, bustling Sunday afternoon meals, in the Italian way, where I cook all morning (let’s face it, something I do anyway) and then friends and family jam around the table to eat and drink and visit all afternoon. Why did I marry a Ukrainian?
Speaking of Italian things, we turned the rest of that olive bread and baked goat cheese from yesterday into panini (really just a fancy word for a grilled cheese sandwich that has been squished down as it cooks) and it was fantastic – I wished there was some smoked turkey to go in with it, but not badly enough to motivate me outside to the store to buy some. It occurs to me now that it would have also made wonderful filling for an omelet… something I’ll have to revisit in a few months, as I have consumed enough goat cheese this weekend to hold me off for awhile.
I had panini earlier this week at my friend Natasha’s house, who emailed me all panicky the day before I came over for lunch, asking “what goes in panini anyway?” They had received a new panini grill for Christmas and she wanted to take it for a spin. My answer: doesn’t matter, so long as it has cheese in it to glue it all together. Another great thing about panini is that it lends itself well to olive oil and garlic, so instead of slathering the outside of the bread with soft butter, or as my friend Jessica does, with butter mixed with Parmesan cheese for a crunchy-cheesy crust, you can rub the bread with a cut clove of garlic and brush it with olive oil – a heart-healthier alternative to butter and cheese. Don’t get me wrong, I love butter. I love cheese. But that’s the whole problem.
Yes, I have a panini grill – I earned store credit for some work I did for a gourmet shop in Vancouver, and so bought myself one. They are fun, but not really necessary – you can make a panini the same way you make grilled cheese – in a skillet on the stovetop, either pressing it down with a spatula, or setting another skillet on top of it and weighing it down with a large can or something. Rachael Ray suggests acquiring a brick and wrapping it in tin foil, but a brick is not something I a) want to seek out, or b) want to store in my kitchen.