Monday, August 29, 2011

Ramadan Kareem, Part 2/Herbed Grape-and-Cheese Panini.

Ramadan is drawing to a close. I'm going to miss sleeping for long hours, nights spent in prayer and frantic Eid shopping. I'm going to miss dusk spent around the dining table, the sweetness of the first date after long hours of fasting and being given a free pass to laze around work/chores. And being a seasoned foodie, missing out on my daily dose of nombu kanji comes as a big blow.

Amidst the flurry of last-minute activities, it's hard to cook up a decent iftiari. This leads to a lot of deep-fried food being bought and on Day 28, I've long exceeded my grease quota. I can't face another soggy samosa that has been twice-cooked in its own steam in the takeaway foil-box.

To prevent a mini-fight (fight is the wrong word, really, since that leads to an invalid fast) of sorts, I tend to make a lighter dish that everybody says is unnecessary or claims to not want, but gobbles up along with their samosa-vada-cutlet, any way.

This is one of those classic raid-your-fridge sandwiches. Good, crusty, wholegrain bread. A hunk of good cheese. A handful of plump, sweet grapes. You've got yourself a sandwich.

I can't extol the virtues of a panini maker enough. Enough praises have been sung/spoken on this blog, but please, please get one.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to be a little bit of a bread snob and say that you can skip this recipe if all you've got is white Modern/Wonder bread. In that case, I'd toast my white bread and spread jam on it or make french toast. Not this panini. I've completely adapted this from Jamie Oliver's pizza recipe, and you know it's sacrilege to use trans-fat/mass-produced/plastic food in a Jamie Oliver recipe.

Also, the cheese can be anything except sliced pre-packaged American cheese. Feta, good. Cheddar, good. Parmesan, good. Pecorino Romano, great! The salty cheese holds it shape, and contrasts beautifully with the sweetness of the honey, the herbiness of the rosemary, the crustiness of the bread and the grapes were a hot, yummy mess at the end of the grilling. Whew.

Herbed Grape-and-Cheese Panini:


8 slices whole-grain bread
4 tbsp honey (I used saffron honey)
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/3 cup crumbled Pecorino Romano cheese
24 grapes
Olive oil or butter, for greasing


Cut the grapes into half. Deseed the grapes and keep them aside.

Take two slices of bread and butter them on one side. I skipped this part. On the unbuttered side, arrange the sliced grapes, cheese. Drizzle with honey, sprinkle with rosemary.

Close the sandwich with the other slice of bread. Pop it into the preheated panini maker until the sides are golden brown. Repeat with the remaining slices of bread.

I used Extra Virgin Olive Oil for greasing, because I wanted a more savoury sandwich. The others however, liked their sandwich, pancakes-style, with a pat of butter and some more honey.
This should ideally be served steaming hot.

And rest assured, I'll be making this in different forms; on a cracker (post-gym food!), as bruschetta and as Pizza (the way Jamie intended it to be).

Get some water boiling for the tea, grill these babies and wrap yourself in a blanket. Nobody can fight/be unhappy with butter and honey and bread in their system. Tested and true.

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