Golly – where to start . . .
Well, this was my lunch today. There was another plate that looked just like this one, only with lots more soup, right next to mine.
Does your town have a “failed restaurant corner”? For a smallish town, we are blessed with two of them. No matter how wildly popular a brand name restaurant seems to be somewhere else, if it lands on one of these corners, it is doomed to failure.
The latest one has a big banner out front that says “LUNCHEON BUFFET – $8.88”. That doesn’t sound too bad for a once-in-a-while treat, but if there are two people, and you get something to drink (soft drink or tea/coffee), pay tax and leave even a modest tip, well, that’s pushing up against about thirty dollars. And that’s if one is a big enough eater to make this worthwhile. Neither of us is able to do justice to a buffet, so we always choose to eat something like you see above.
You will no doubt recognize the soup from yesterday – with the deletion of the on-top broccoli. In its place I added a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of dill. The paninis were made using the slices of meat and cheese pictured below. Each slice is less than an inch wide, so it isn’t a lot of volume of meat and cheese.
BUT – it is exceptional meat and cheese in that the two cheeses are Chipotle Gouda and Jalapeño Colby. The light meat is a spicy chicken; the other is jes’ plain ol’ Virginia ham. Very flavorful, especially when grilled to perfection with the melty cheeses holding it all together.
On Fridays at our local Safeway store, they usually have a specialty meat and cheese that they sell for $5. per pound, so you can see how really low cost the meat and cheese was for these sandwiches. They will slice it up any way you want it, but I always ask for a big chunk so I can slice it myself with a knife at home.
When they slice it at the store, there is a huge expanse of surface area, which exposes a lot of the meat/cheese to the slicing machine and to the room air – at the grocery store and again in my own kitchen. This helps to dry out the meat long before its time, and to collect bacteria that speeds spoilage. Since we need to be extra careful about such things, I find that cutting off just what I need at the time of use has been a good solution. The remaining chunk is rewrapped quickly and popped into a container with a tight gasket seal.
We’ve lunched on these sandwiches for five days, and there is barely a dent in the chunks. I will need to freeze them at some point, I think, but every day when lunchtime rolls around, the request seems to be the same as the day before. I try to make each day’s lunch a little different overall, but the panini seems to be the constant. And probably for good reason. It really is delicious.
I cooked an extra two potatoes last night when I made mash with the thought of making Potatoes O’Judie for dinner tonight, but instead, DH requested potato salad to go with the soup and sand. So, presto – it was accomplished.
I didn’t have any hard-boiled eggs hanging about, of course, so I just tossed one in to poach while I did other things. When it had poached itself into hardness, I put it on a small plate and shoved it into the freezer – setting the timer for seven minutes. This was the perfect solution. No need to hard boil an egg and then fight with getting the shell off while it is still hot.
A few chopped veggies, a slug of Cole slaw dressing with diced marinated tomatoes and pickle relish, some seasonings, and it was ready to go. Of course there is plenty left over for another lunch – both the soup and the potato salad.
And, yes, that bread is just as delicious as it looks. It is half white flour and half whole wheat, with about a quarter cup each of teff and pumpernickel meal. This makes an incredibly crunchy toast that perfectly complements these hearty flavors.