Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Plethora of Panini: Beet on the Brat

One of Monkey-man's Christmas presents was a cast-iron panini press
that I seriously had to hunt down. He's been ogling cast-iron pans
for awhile and next to pizza I am pretty sure sandwiches are his
favorite. Finding it was a hassle. I knew Macy's carried them and after
dealing with countless, stupid employees-- I found one at the Macy's
on Lake. Thank goodness my Monkey-man enjoys the more practical
gifts because this has certainly opened us up to a new series as we're
breaking in the ol' cast-iron.

Cast-Iron takes pampering. You should never wash it with soap, leave it
wet or use metal utensils on it. If you cook things on it that require
cleaning after-- something that sticks-- than clean it with very hot
water and a scrubber. Dry immediately afterward and oil to prevent
rusting. It may seem scary, but if you're cooking something like plain
toast, etc. you just brush it off, re-grease it and leave it. This
will age and season your pan.

I've seen people that cook meat just leave their pans with the fat, crap
and everything. Yeah, gross. Many argue that you should NEVER clean
your cast iron, but I do not agree. I say that you should try to never
use soap on it-- or at least don't use a lot and only when you really
need to. I believe in caring for your dishes properly, but I also
believe in not getting sick from bacteria festering on a pan.

Having said that, cast-iron is great because you can cook on the stove
and then stick it straight into the oven or actually use it as a baking
dish for things like corn bread or roasted vegetables. Our has ridges,
so it wouldn't be entirely ideal for that, but it is a possibility.

On to the food!
Panini, or Panino, is basically an Italian Sandwich. More accurately it
is a bread roll. A stuffed Panino is a roll stuffed with sandwich fixings.
This is derivative of the Italian word for bread: Pane. Often they are
served hot or grilled on ciabatta or focaccia. Americans refer to any
grilled sandwich as a panini, as being grilled is the deciding
characteristic. Whereas any sandwich is called a panini in Italy.

If you don't have a stove press you can use an electric one. Some
waffle makers double as panini presses. You can use a heavy pan and
a brick wrapped in foil. Just allow the brick to heat with the pan
before adding your prepped sandwich. Or you can just set a heavy pan
on top of your sandwich and plan on flipping it.

Part One: Beet on the Brat Panini


Beets or beet pulp (See Below)
2 cloves garlic, minced
vegan cream cheese
1/2 Red Onion
Vegan deli slices: ideally field roast, sliced seitain, or something
similar to yves roast slices. I'm sure Tofurky would be good too...
But stay away from the bologna style stuff.
Olive Oil or Earth Balance

When I make Borsht I blend the whole pot and push it through a mesh.
I usually end up with about two cups of beet pulp that I use to fill
dumplings, spread on sandwiches or mix into something else.

I had some left over beet-pulp from our postponed Christmas Dinner
that I still needed to use. You can steam beets and blend them with
a little broth, garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Or you can just
steam a beet and slice it very very thin.

Heat your pan and saute the sliced onion until soft and caramelized.

I made two sandwiches here... spreading vegan cream cheese, mustard,
and light miso on one side of the bread and then sprinkled it with
diced, raw garlic.

Oil or grease the other side of the bread.
Arrange the deli slices on the side with the cream cheese.
Spread or arrange the beets on the other side of the sandwich and
top with the cooked onion. Squish the sandwich together and grill
according to the type of pan you are using.

Cut in half and serve!

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