Panini are little sandwiches that are put through a press that warms up the filling and gives the bread a delicious grilled flavor. Ten years ago, you would have had to get on a plane and gone to Italy to enjoy one, but today you can find panini everywhere--in Italian restaurants, restaurant chains like Panera, even higher-end supermarkets are selling panini in their take-out foods sections. Because its popularity, the panini press (think a small George Foreman Grill) has become the hottest selling small appliance on the market. Everyone is selling them. Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table carry brands like LeCreuset, All-Clad, and Krups, while Target sells a Hamilton Beach model for less than $50 and Wal-Mart a Breadman version for $39.95.
Panini Express contains easy recipes for 70 deliciously different sandwiches you can make using your panini press. Panini Express does not confine itself only to authentic Italian Panini recipes, but instead will explore a world of flavors (like the Catskill Cubano with ham, turkey, Swiss, and a hoisin-lime dressing). In addition to the sandwich recipes, there are recipes for four homemade breads if you want your sandwiches completely from scratch, as well as for mayonnaises, spreads, and other tasty sandwich slathers to up the flavor quotient.
Dan Leader was one of the earliest proponents of artisanal bread making in this country and continues to run his bakery Bread Alone, which he founded in 1983. His book Bread Alone is a classic on the subject and won the IACP award for best baking book.
Lauren Chattman apprenticed under Francois Payard at Restaurant Daniel and was pastry chef at Nick and Toni's in Easthampton. She is the author of six cookbooks and co-author of two. Her recipes have appeared in Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Cook's Illustrated, Vegetarian Times, The New York Times, and Redbook.
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