Posted by: Deana | February 11, 2008


Ok, let’s kick this off with a good one – paninis. This meal requires 2 recipes so here goes:

First we make homemade pesto for the pesto mayonnaise on the sandwiches. This is a recipe that a friend, Anni, gave us when we got married:

  • 2 cups fresh herbs, the majority being basil – we use all basil
  • Grated peel of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ¼ – ½ cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

Then you mince them all together and inhale – it smells so good! I use my Cuisinart. Last time I made it Z told me I’m supposed to slowly add the oil in a small steady stream (he comes from a cooking family and took at least one cooking class in Italy, so he knows what he’s talking about), but I forgot and dumped it all in together which seemed to work fine. We often double this recipe and save some to have on pasta for dinner another night.


I also made this Basic Focaccia bread recipe from this cookbook, Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking

Essentials of Baking

I love this cookbook, I mean look at that picture! I’m so excited to try new recipes. I’ve tried two so far and they’ve both turned out beautiful and yummy.

Basic Focaccia

  • 2 packages (5 tespoons) active dry yeast
  • 1 ¾ cups warm water (105°-115°F)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneeding
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt (optional)

I use my kitchen-aide mixer.
In the 5-qt bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar, ½ cup olive oil, the flour, and the fine sea salt. Place the bowl on the mixer, attached the dough hook, and kneed on low speed, until the dough is smooth and elastic, 5-7 minutes. Add up to ½ cup flour while kneading to prevent the dough from sticking.  Remove the dough from the bowl.

Form the dough into a ball, transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, 1-1½ hours. (I warm the over for a few minutes, turn it off, and let the dough rise in there.) For a more flavorful bread, make the dough up to this point, punch it down, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. Let the dough come to room temperature before shaping.

Pour the remaining ¼ cup oil evenly into a half-sheet pan. Turn the dough out into the pan. Press the dough evenly into the pan. If it is too elastic to spread without springing back, let it rest for 5 minutes. Cover the pan loosely with a dry kitchen towel let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat to 450°. Dimple the dough by pressing your fingertips all the way into it at 1-inch intervals over the entire surface. Sprinkle it with the coarse salt, if desired.

Bake the focaccia until golden brown, 20-30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan. Cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature. Store tightly wrapped in aluminum foil at room temperature for up to 1 day or freeze for up to 2 weeks. Reheat at 375° for 10 minutes.

After making the bread we added some of the fresh pesto to mayonnaise to make some fresh pesto mayo. We put the pesto mayo, fresh mozzarella (for Z only) and deli meat (Virginia ham is a favorite) on the sandwiches before grilling. I added tomatoes to mine since I can’t have cheese. When we got married we registered for a panini grill which is great, but you could use another kind of grill too – as long as it gets the job of toasting the bread and melting the cheese done.



  1. […] recipe, half covered with a seasoned tomato sauce we threw together and half smothered in homemade Pesto…mmm…then slices of my favorite goat cheese,  Winey Goat (goat cheese brined in red […]

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