Thursday, January 24, 2008

*pressed for sandwiches.

To me, there's nothing better than a sandwich. And ever since I wrote a teensy little story about them, there are some who consider me an expert. A title I accept under any auspices, without question. I don't look a gift horse.

So tonight I was hosting a get-together, which threatened to host a vegetarian, a diabetic, and two standards. Unfortunately, the diabetic had to bail for mechanical reasons, so the door was open for ... well, virtually anything. And herein lies my dilemma: How in the world does one formulate a menu? Seriously, if any of you out there have clues/tips/expertise to offer, I'm all ears. And I'm not talking in a how-to-please-everybody sort of way. I mean ... how do you even start? Or, if you have a specific recipe in mind, how do you round it out? And how do you plan for certain numbers of people? All ah-ha moments are welcome in the comments.

The best news about the recipe I chose for tonight is that it gave little TC (tiny Cuisinart) a chance to regain his honor. No less than 8 ounces of cheese, PLUS dijon mustard PLUS butter PLUS garlic was pulverized by the motor that could:

Beautifully whirled, you old dog. That gets spread on bread slices and topped with deli turkey, then thrown on my new Krups panini press, which I swear to you seems like a frivolous kitchen appliance but ... is. In the way the best frivolous kitchen appliances are. You will think, why does this thing take up so much cabinet space? Why did I get something they keep telling me skillet + foil-wrapped brick can do (and come on, who has a brick laying around?)? Could my seven-year-old Foreman have done the trick? Have I been duped? The answers are, respectively, I'm not sure, because it's not the same (no one), no, and maybe. It seems I'm an independent.

Truly, though, this is something I put on and took off my Christmas list. I was impressed by the machinery, but unsure that I was getting any real pay off. I've been making panini on a George Foreman for a while, and it totally works! But there's certain satisfaction that comes from having the right tool for the right job. I think all Italian panini makers would disagree that this is necessarily it, but it's easy to use and easy to clean and produces even, perfect heat.

I went with Giada's Venetian Panino recipe, because it's simple and trustworthily Italian. Unfortunately, the Publix (greenmarkets, right?) didn't have any Gruyère, so I bought Monterey Jack. I know technically some sort of fancy Swiss is the appropriate substitution, but MJ is a nice, mild cheese that appeals to everyone, so I knew it would please, crowd-wise.

And it got raves! But frankly, I can't judge. My friends are pretty darn nice. Here's what the result looked like. I got the board for $2 at a prop sale at work, so I wanted everything to look suitably retro. Thanks to iPhoto ...

Oooh! Bring out the fondue and tube socks!

Anyhoo, a night with the girls always involves a few things from bags and a few things from the freezer, so it's not always a culinary decathlon. But a few days ago, I stumbled upon something I couldn't ignore. Something so amazing, so oblivious, so wonderfully stupid that I could not, despite my fever, pass it by. This is the kind of marketing idiocy that warms my heart. Most of you will read this post on Friday and so I say to you all: When you raise your glasses, please raise them on behalf of Dale Jr.

And all the Big Mo's in your life.


at: 3:29 PM said...

standard? is that what you'd call it? i would think feeding the diabetic would be easier than pleasing the P-I-C-K-Y. but trust you to slather a butter/garlic/mustard mixture on some bread, throw it in a device that mimics the wonders of the foil-wrapped brick, and end up with those delectable little masterpieces of fooddom. sandwich lovers, rejoice!

K. says:
at: 3:41 PM said...

believe you me, pleasing the P-I-C-K-Y is quite the feat. particularly when that ilk dislikes things they've never tasted before. kinda narrows the palate playing field.



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I am a work in progress. I perpetually need a hair cut. I'm totally devoted to my remarkable nieces and nephew. I am an elementary home cook and a magazine worker bee. (Please criticize my syntax and spelling in the comments.) I think my dog is hilarious. I like chicken and spicy things. I have difficulty being a grown-up. Left to my own devices, I will eat enormous amounts of cheese snacks of all kinds.