Spring has arrived in San Diego. The weather is warm, our vegetable beds are loaded with freshly planted tomatoes, and we are just finishing a couple retainer walls that give us a few hundred more feet of planting space. Life is good. And to celebrate, we made this lovely (and simple) roast beef panini sandwich.
This is a simple sandwich for people in a rush (well, assuming you have the ingredients available). You need some hummus, and a bit of really good mozzarella, like this buffalo mozzarella which is smooth and creamy. We make our own hummus, which is a variation on this recipe: Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Hummus. This is a spicy hummus with cilantro and banana peppers instead of the sun-dried tomato basil.
As we promised, we will be posting pizza recipes from all of our Pizza Cookoff Fridays. Actually, I should confess that that title is the more sanitized and hence publishable version of the actual title. Here’s another of our creations – this was week 2. This is a sauce less pizza (distinct from the saucy pizza with all her insolence and impertinent attitudes :-)) that we find works best early in the evening of pizza debauchery. Light and pleasing, it was a nice introduction and palate opener to the heavier pizzas that were to follow that night.
This summer we have introduced a new tradition in the Amazing Sandwich home – Pizza Cook-off Fridays. What started as dinner with a friend who came over to show us how to make pizza on the grill, has morphed into my new favorite evening of the week. The basic concept is this: get some friends together, Anders and I provide the dough and competitors bring their favorite wines and toppings for 3-4 hours of trash talking, ardent pizza making, even more ardent eating, and just a wonderfully good time. So far, we’ve had some awesome creations: classic margarita with fresh tomatoes from our respective gardens; pesto with grilled mushrooms; feta with hummus, grilled pork and finished with tahini drizzle; smoked salmon with thin lemon slivers; apricots with prosciutto and arugula. But my favorite so far was one entry from last weekend: sautéed leeks with garlic, grilled oyster and shimeji mushrooms, buffalo mozzarella and then topped with dollops of a whipped goat cheese/lemon zest blend and sprinkled with fresh thyme. It was divine. I mean really…it was soo good it bears repeating – it was divine! We whipped the goat cheese with a fork, added some lemon zest and bit of olive oil. After baking in the oven, it was so light and creamy and the lemon just gave it the perfect amount of tang. I can’t wait till Friday – we might just make this one again.
For the past few weeks I have been berating Anders that he has abandoned his sandwich making craft. Berating is a bit strong – more like a strongly nudging. He has been focusing on taking photos while I make the sandwiches. This week, he heard me and made this tasty sandwich that proves even more than his passport and birth certificate, that he is indeed from the land where smorrebrod was born. It was one of those evenings when I just got home from work and crashed with no thought as to dinner. I was in the middle of one of those marathon phone conversations with one of my girlfriends when Anders came through the door, smiled and nodded in my direction and headed to the kitchen. He was a man on a mission. 15 minutes later, his mission became clear. He returned to the living room with this dinner sandwich that was so good to look at that I felt guilty eating it. Not too guilty though. Costco membership that made purchasing the crabcakes possible: $60/year and worth every penny and more. Having a husband with smorrebrod making in his DNA: priceless!
Ever heard of the four cheese sandwich? Typically this sandwich involves an abundance of cheese with little smidgen of veggies. A few weeks ago, we decided to turn that recipe upside down and make the four tomato caprese panini. Thanks to overshopping (yet again) at the annual Tomato Mania, our garden has quite a variety of this summer necessity. If only the variety was matched by abundance. Sigh! This year, we have been outdone by the garden pests who have made off with most of our yield. Poor Anders. In anticipation of this annual raiding, early in the season he stocked the pantry with peanut butter – the bait of choice for our Have a Heart trap. Months later, we are out of peanut butter and tomatoes. There are some very fat well fed squirrels and rabbits running around Poway right now and they owe it all to Anders. How they managed to get to the PB without springing the trap is beyond me. Ocassionally, (grudglying, we suspect), they left us a few, from which we were able to have a few tomato meals – like this sandwich.
You can use any combination of tomatoes you wish. We used: white oxheart, brandy boy, Mr. Stripey and XXX. It was delish, so much so that after eating his mammoth sandwich, Anders begged for another. After eating his second sandwich, he was nearly comatose on the sofa. Sweet reward for me… that and hearing him declare, “this is hands down the best panini I’ve ever tasted.”