Monday, September 16, 2013

Caprese Panini

I'm not good at food photography. It's a skill. There's a definite art to it, and it's just not something I'm good at. Clearly, because how did I not notice the huge freakin' crumb RIGHT THERE IN THE FOREGROUND?! My college photography professor hopefully never sees this, because I have a feeling she'll come up to Chicago and drop a 50 lb. weight right on my head.

Some foods, like sandwiches, are horrible to photograph. And since I never make anything just "for the blog" (I'm always snapping pics just as we're sitting down to dinner) I never have the time to make it pretty. I just do what I can and hope for the best.

While I'm not a good photographer, I'm good at following a recipe. I'm okay with winging it in the kitchen. As I've branched out and learned more about food and cooking and expanding my palate, I've started to figure out what works and what doesn't. And even when I think it won't work, I surprise myself. The first time I saw this, I wasn't sure if it would work together, and I proved myself wrong. Very, very wrong. I realized I've been making this particular sandwich for years and just never blogged it. This is one of our very favorites, and it's actually one of my very favorites at the end of the summer. Just before my basil plant goes to seed and starts to fade, and just as we get one last ripe tomato off the vine (there's always one that shows up during the last week of summer), I like to make this sandwich for dinner. Reminds me that with each passing day, we're just a little bit closer to summer.

Caprese Panini
(Barely adapted from Williams-Sonoma)

4 slices country-style bread, 1/2 in. thick
Olive oil
4 T. mayonnaise, divided
4 slices fresh mozzarella
4 slices fresh tomato
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 fresh basil leaves

Heat an electric panini press to medium-high according to manufacturer's instructions, or heat a cast iron pan with a panini press over medium.

Lightly brush one side of each slice of bread with olive oil. With the oiled sides down, layer two slices of bread with 1 T. mayonaise, cheese, tomato, and 1 tsp. of vinegar. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and top with 2 basil leaves, one on each side. Spread remaining mayo on the remaining slices of bread and place atop sandwiches, oiled side up.

Grill sandwiches in panini press according to the manufacturer's directions, 3-5 minutes, until cheese is melty and sandwich is warmed through. Cut each sandwich in half and serve immediately. Serves 2 people.

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