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Archive for August 5, 2016

TIP OF THE DAY: Celebrate National Sandwich Month & National Panini Month

August is National Sandwich Month, time to move beyond your standard choices and try something different.

Since August is also National Panini Month, we dragged the panini press out of the closet (no room on the counter!) and invited a group of friends to a “Panini Brunch.” They asked what they could bring, and we told them: whatever you want to drink with your panini.
 
FOR A PANINI BRUNCH

Starting with ciabatta bread, everyone picks his/her sandwich ingredients from a selection of:

  • Cheeses: brie, cheddar, gruyère
  • Meats: ham, turkey
  • Condiments: fresh basil and dill, cherry preserves, fig jam
  • Fresh herbs: basil, chives, cilantro, dill, parsley
  • Veggies: arugula, avocado, caramelized onions, grilled vegetables, pickled jalapeños, sliced tomatoes
  • Garnishes: olives, cucumber pickles, other pickled vegetables
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    We added a mixed green salad with a Dijon vinaigrette. For dessert: biscotti and Italian dessert wine (look for Moscato d’Asti or Vin Santo).

     
    PANINI HISTORY

    A panini press is an electric sandwich grill consisting of two metal plates hinged together. The hot plates are clamped down on a prepared sandwich, pressing it into a dense sandwich while toasting the outsides of the bread with the signature grill marks and warming the filling (in the case of cheese, melting it).

    Before sandwich grills, toasters or griddles were used to make toasted sandwiches. Thomas Edison invented an early sandwich grill in the 1920s, but it didn’t take off commercially.

    Fast forward: Sandwiches toasted in a panini press became popular in Italian bars and cafés in the 1970s and 1980s. The trend spread internationally, and in another decade, panini presses could be found in appliance departments across the U.S.

    The sandwich grill—the panini press is the Italian version— made it possible to brown two slices of bread at the same time.

    Panino means “little bread” in Italian, and literally refers to a roll (a “little loaf”). Panino imbottito. “stuffed panino,” refers to the sandwich, but the word panino is also often used alone in context to refer to the sandwich.

    In Italian, panino is singular, panini is plural. English speakers adapted the words: panini for singular, panini for plural.
     
    PANINI TIPS

  • The bread is important. It needs to be bread sturdy like ciabatta, yet soft enough to allow grill marks (crisp-crust baguette doesn’t work). Ciabatta isn’t an “accessory” bread: It adds flavor to the sandwich.
  • Reconsider buying standard deli meats and cheeses that are thinly sliced. You need more substantial slices of meat in order to give the best texture to the panini the best texture. Use “dinner slices.”
  • Use other condiments. Save the everyday mustard and mayo for untoasted sandwiches. Consider flavored mayo (jalapeño, wasabi), along with chutney, majo-jam mixtures, honey mustard (make your own by blending Dijon and honey) and preserves.
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    MORE SANDWICH IDEAS

    Don’t want panini? How about:

  • Award-Winning Peanut Butter Sandwich Recipes
  • Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipes
  • Lamb Sandwich Recipe
  • Naan Bread Sandwiches
  •  
    And don’t overlook:

  • The history of sandwiches
  • The different types of sandwiches
  •  

    Turkey Panini

    caramelized-onion-green-tom-panini-RICKS-230

    Grilled Vegetable Panini

    breville-panini-press-SLT-230

    [1] A panino of turkey, cheddar and sliced apple (photo courtesy USApple.org).[2] One of our favorites: turkey, gruyère, caramelized onions and tomato (photo courtesy Rick’s Picks). [3] Grilled veggies (photo courtesy PotsAndPans.com). [4] A panini press (photo courtesy Breville).

     

      

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    OLYMPICS COCKTAIL RECIPE: The Caipirinha

    What’s your weekend cocktail?

    For the next three weeks, when watching the Olympics, it could be the Caipirinha, the national cocktail of Brazil. It’s made with the national’s official spirit, cachaça.

    In the U.S., cachaça is considered “Brazilian rum,” but don’t call it that in front of a Brazilian!

  • Rum is distilled from molasses, the residue that remains after the sugar crystals are extracted from the sugar cane juice.
  • Cachaça is made from fresh cane juice, the purest product of sugar cane.
  • According to Wikipedia, cachaça is the third most consumed spirit in the world, although it doesn’t appear in this analysis from The Economist.
     
    CAIPIRINHA HISTORY

    Although the exact origins of caipirinha are not known, it is said that it began around 1918 in the state of São Paulo as a tonic for the Spanish Flu: cachaca, lime, garlic and honey. It is still used as a palliative for the common cold.

    Along the line, someone replaced the honey and garlic with sugar and ice as a cocktail, and the modern caipirinha was born.

    The name caipirinha is the diminutive of the caipira, Brazilian Portuguese for a peasant. Caipirinha is a “little peasant.”

    According to CaipirinhaRecipes.com, sugarcane plantations and cachaça production were established in rural areas where land and the labor of the caipiras were cheap. The spirit they made was what people drank, and a novelty variation emerged sweeting the spirit sugar and lime.

    When the cocktail traveled to the larger port-town of Santos, it was given the name of “Caipirinha.”
     
    RECIPE: THE CLASSIC CAIPIRINHA

    The traditional drink is made in an Old Fashioned glass. Many varieties have proliferated in recent years, from expected fruit versions like berries or pineapple, and sophisticated flavor combinations like rose and pink pepper.
     

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 lime, cut into eight wedges
  • 2 teaspoons superfine sugar or 1 tablespoon simple syrup
  • 1½ ounces cachaça
  • Crushed ice
  • Optional garnish: lime wheel, mint sprig, sugar cane stick
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    Caipirinha Cocktail

    Cacacha

    [1] The national cocktail of Brazil: the Caipirinha (photo courtesy JamieOliver.com). [2] A leading brand of cachaça, Leblon is named after the most affluent neighborhood in Rio.

     
    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE the lime and sugar into glass; then add ice to the top of the glass.

    2. ADD the cachaça, stir, garnish and serve.
     
    MORE CACHACA RECIPES

  • Read more about the History of Cachaça
  • Try some of The Nibble’s Cachaça-Based Cocktail Recipes
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    THE OLD-FASHIONED GLASS

    The Old Fashioned glass, also called lowball glass, or rocks glass, is a short tumbler used for serving an alcoholic beverage with ice cubes (“on the rocks”). It gets its name from the Old Fashioned cocktail, invented in the 1860s in New York City.

    Old Fashioned glasses are made with a wide brim and a thick base for muddling (source).

    Bottoms up!

      

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