Tag Archives: panini recipe

A Sandwich for All Ages

You don't have to be a kid to love this sandwich.

You don’t have to be a kid to love this sandwich.

School’s only just started, but if you find yourself already tearing your hair out over new ways to jazz up the brown-bag lunch, this book is for you.

“Best Lunch Box Ever: Ideas and Recipes for School Lunches Kids Will Love” (Chronicle), of which I received a review copy,  features 75 simple and sensible recipes that kids won’t be tempted to trade away for something else. The book is by Katie Sullivan Morford, a Bay Area food writer and registered dietician who also happens to be the sister of famed Chef Mark Sullivan of the Bacchus Management Group of restaurants that includes Spruce in San Francisco, Cafe des Amis in San Francisco, the Village Pub in Woodside, Mayfield Bakery and Cafe in Palo Alto, and the Pizza Antica locales. As the mother of three daughters, she knows all too well the challenges of getting kids to eat well.

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The book is filled with tips for easy ways to make lunch even more nutritious and appealing. For instance, instead of packing a tub of strawberry yogurt with a granola bar, make a Greek yogurt parfait instead with sliced berries, honey and granola. The latter has more protein, less sugar and nothing artificial. Instead of a regular cheese quesadilla made with a flour tortilla, use a whole-wheat one instead and fill it with black beans and sweet potato for more fiber, protein and potassium, and far less saturated fat.

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Ina Garten’s Easy Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese Croutons

Tomato soup gets a whole lot more fun with grilled cheese croutons.

If ever there was a food that transports us back to childhood with just one sip, it’s tomato soup.

I remember digging a spoon into a deep bowl of that cheerful orange-red, velvety soup as an after-school snack, alongside a stack of saltine crackers. I remember yearning for it on rainy days, especially. And I remember it as the perfect pick-me-up sure to cure any teenage funk.

Of course, back then, my tomato soup did come out of a can.

Now, leave it to Food Network Star Ina Garten to come up with a homemade version of that beloved staple so many of us grew up on. Hers is decidedly more grown-up, yet still maintains the heart and soul we all love about the canned kind.

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Giada’s Mozzarella, Raspberry and Brown Sugar Panini, Plus a Great Food Gal Giveaway

A perfect sweet-savory panini by Giada De Laurentiis.

I’ve been rather obsessed with this crisp, sweet-savory sammy ever since channel-surfing one day and catching Giada De Laurentiis making it on her Food Network show.

But the problem was that my panini press went kaput awhile back.

Oh, I know I could have used a frying pan with a weight on top of the bread instead, but it’s just not quite the same, if you know what I mean.

So, when the good folks at Calphalon offered me the chance to test out their electric panini grill, I leaped at the chance. Of course, you know the first thing I made with it, too.

Yup, De Laurentiis’ childhood panini that her mom used to make for her after school or as dessert. Imagine two slices of artisan bread smeared with raspberry jam, piled with milky mozzarella slices, a sprinkle of sea salt and a flurry of chopped fresh rosemary. The piece de resistance? Brown sugar sprinkled on the very top of each sandwich, so that when the sandwich goes into the panini press, it melts and caramelizes, forming a sugary, crisp crust. Now, you know why I’ve lusted after this sandwich.

It’s pure gooey comfort between two slices of bread. The sprinkle of salt and the fresh rosemary really make it special and keep it from verging into cloying territory. So, do not leave those two ingredients out.

I used slices of a sweet batard loaf and cherry jam, since a jar was already open in my fridge. I can see this working with a wide variety of jams and herbs: marmalade with fresh thyme or strawberry and tarragon, perhaps.

My gleaming new Calphalon panini press.

Place the sandwich inside.

Close the lid and wait for the bread to crisp, the cheese to melt and for everything to become as one.

It makes for a decadent but deceptively simple breakfast or lunch.

Want to try making it, yourself? I’ll give you a hand:

Contest: One lucky Food Gal reader will win a Calphalon electric panini grill (valued at about $100). The panini grill features variable temperatures and grill heights to accommodate any size sandwich. The grates wipe clean easily after use, too. Entries, limited to those in the continental United States, will be accepted through midnight PST July 14. Winner will be announced July 16.

How to win?

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