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Old 05-20-2005, 03:40 PM   #1
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Ciabatta Panini - One bowl

Last nite I put a pkg of Red Star Active Dry Yeast, a cup of AP flour, and a cup of 115-120 F water in a medium sized bowl and stirred until smooth and creamy, then set aside overnight.

This morning that sponge had a slightly sour aroma - ready to go! Added 2 Tbsp Olive oil, a tsp table salt, and 1/2 cup half-n-half milk - all for flavor and texture, and stirred well. Then added flour to form a very soft, sticky dough (about 1 3/4 cups AP flour).

Turned that out onto a heavily floured surface, and with heavily floured hands and a dough scraper, kneaded the dough for a couple of minutes. (I read where it is important not to over knead the dough.) Then formed it into the classic "slipper" shape in a sheet pan with my fingers, leaving it somewhat uneven. Put it in the sun to rise until about double - about half an hour - then into a 425 F preheated oven for 18 minutes - golden brown and "hollow" when tapped. Cooled on a wire rack, of course.

Sliced off a piece and munched on it. Interesting, pleasant flavor, light airy texture, nice crisp, thin crust. Different!

Next I cut a sandwich sized piece and sliced it horizontally. Drizzled olive oil on both halves, layered fresh mozarella, tomator, basil, parsely, bell pepper, salt, fresh ground pepper. Popped on the top, placed it in a hot, oiled skillet for two or three minutes on each side.

Then served it to myself in the garden for lunch with a glass of chianti:




Good, certainly, but darned if I know what all the excitement regarding panini is all about. It's just a good grilled sandwich, no?

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Old 05-20-2005, 03:46 PM   #2
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Grilled yes, but a proper panini has the bread slices pressed down so that it's very thin and crispy, almost like a piadina.
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Old 05-20-2005, 04:34 PM   #3
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I guess it's like comparing Wonder-type bread to ciabatta ... though both are called bread and can be used for sandwiches that's where the similarity ends.

Ciabatta seems to be the perfect wrapping for whatever delicious goodies you've tucked inside. The texture, the distinctive flavore, the crispy crust and the light as air inside all add a very unique flair to any humble "sandwich".

The other kind of bread seems to just be there to hold the sandwich ingrediants together; it doesn't add anything special in and of itself.

Sandwich is food; panini is cuisine. =P


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Old 05-20-2005, 04:44 PM   #4
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Wonderful oldcoot!!!!! ...and thanks for the pic - as always!
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Old 05-20-2005, 05:57 PM   #5
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Zereh, I like your take on a sandwhich vs. panini...so true!
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Old 05-20-2005, 07:50 PM   #6
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Hold on just a darn minute, folks. Yes, a ciabatta panini is tasty. But how about, for example, a good old fashioned "Ham 'n Swiss on Rye"? I agree Wonderbread doesn't contribute a whole lot of flavor to a sandwich, but there are many, many sandwiches that use a wide variety of breads to make the whole an interesting and delicious event. Heck, a taco (Mexican sandwich) is "cuisine", too. Now thee's a bread that's thin, crisp, and flavorful - right?

Oh, and I have to ask: how do you get a light, airy texture from a bread that's been flattened to a fraction of it's original thickness?
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Old 05-20-2005, 08:33 PM   #7
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Oldcoot, I want to be your next door neighbor so I can sample those meals you and your wife make!!!

That recipe sounds wonderful and having the picture makes it even better!
Thank you so much for sharing this with us!
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Old 05-20-2005, 08:50 PM   #8
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Jkath, if that's an up-to-date picture of you there, then I'll get rid of the cranky old so-and-so that lives next door so you can move in! Already have a pretty girl on the other side, and a couple more just down the block. All dine with us from time to time. Boy, do I enjoy that!!


Since you are somewhere here in So. Cal. it shouldn't mean too great a displacement for you. We're in Los Angeles, just east of Torrance.
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Old 05-20-2005, 08:59 PM   #9
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I always thought you were in Northern CA, like Marge and Sierra...
you're only 40 or so miles away from me (the 210/57 split)

and the photo was in January at a banquet (I don't normally run around in long gowns!)

Maybe this summer H and I can meet you and BW for lunch in Long Beach :)
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Old 05-21-2005, 12:51 AM   #10
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I thought the whole point of panini was to get a good crusty bread. I thought that is the most important. That's why they scoop out a lot of the filling.As for food vs. cuisine, for me, it's all about the imagination and thought it takes to put something together. For me a sandwich would be something quick I put together for dinner on a weeknight. Something fancier (i.e. any sort of panini) would be something I would serve to my family when they come over.
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