Thursday, April 28, 2011

Green Goddess Panini's & Spicy Blue Cheese Tomato Soup

This is the time of year when Mr. TL & I are gearing up for our busy season with photography so finding meals that are tasty, relatively simple, and can be prepped ahead of time are crucial. One of our favorite quick meals is grilled cheese and soup. It's just always so comforting and always super simple to throw together.

This week when I decided to go for our old standby, I decided that I wanted to mix it up. A boring grilled cheese is just that - boring. Same goes for regular tomato soup - lame-o! So I went on an internet search for interesting and easy to accomplish recipes for both grilled cheese and soup and came across two that will certainly be added in to our normal rotation going forward.

Before we get to the recipes, let me introduce you to one of my favorite kitchen appliances - our Cuisinart Griddler. Truth be told, I had no desire to register for a panini press. Mr. TL added it on the day we went to register and I, like every other wife to be out there, got home and removed it. That, along with a hot dog cooker, a chicken rotisserie cooker, and the most mismatched set of kitchen towels imaginable (who ever said giving the guys the registry gun was a good idea?!). But here's the thing... he kept re-adding the panini press so I eventually stopped fighting the "Battle Panini Press" (as I had won "Battle Hot Dog Cooker", "Battle Chicken Rotisserie"m and "Battle Kitchen Towels" ;)).

This little darling actually serves double purpose in the kitchen, as both a panini press, but also operates as an open faced grill or griddle (it comes with grill attachments as well as griddle ones!). It's great for burgers in the middle of the winter and pancakes on a Sunday morning. I recently cleaned off counter space so it can live on the counter every day (as it's a pain to pull in and out of our super deep cabinets).

Now let's get to the recipes. First up, the Green Goddess Panini! I came across this gem on the website Panini Happy and I'm so happy (ha ha!) that I did. I, of course, made some adaptations which you'll see if you compare my recipe to the one on the Panini Happy site and I think they were for the better. The taste of the herbs was far from overpowering which was exactly what I had hoped for. The creamy cheese smelled incredible all on it's own and tasted even better between two slices of hearty sourdough bread (thank you, Trader Joe's!).

Green Goddess Panini
(adapted from Panini Happy)

1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 shallot, quartered
zest of 1 lime
3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley (eyeballed)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro (eyeballed)
1 tablespoon fresh basil (eyeballed)
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 ounces cream cheese, cut into smaller cubes
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
8-12 slices sourdough bread
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt & cracked black pepper

Place garlic and shallot into your food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
Add in the lime zest, parsley, cilantro, basil, shallot, mustard and cream cheese and pulse again until well blended.
Add the mozzarella and cheddar cheeses and pulse until combined.
Preheat the panini grill to medium-high heat.
Spread a generous amount of the cheese mixture onto one slice of bread. Close the sandwich with a second slice of bread. Brush a little olive oil on top and sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Grill for 5 to 6 minutes until the cheese is melted and oozy and the bread is toasted.

Onto the soup... I'm a tomato soup fan from way back. My hands down favorite has to be the Creamy Tomato Soup from Panera. This recipe, courtesy of Michael Symon via the blog The Amateur Gourmet is as close to that soup as I could imagine but kicked up a notch. The addition of blue cheese and hot sauce ( I added hot sauce - the original recipe called for Sirrachha sauce) was refreshing and added unexpected flavor as the soup hung out in your mouth. Creamy, delicious, and with just the right amount of spice. It was the perfect compliment to the mild Green Goddess Panini!

Spicy Blue Cheese Tomato Soup
(adapted from Michael Symon)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 28-oz can San Marzano tomatoes, with their juice
1 1/2 cups Chicken Stock
3/4 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon hot sauce sauce
1/2 cup blue cheese
2 tablespoons butter

Heat the olive oil in a 4-quart pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and a three-fingered pinch of salt and sweat for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sweat for 2 more minutes. Add the tomatoes, their juice and the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the cream, hot sauce, blue cheese, and butter and simmer for 45 minutes.
Pour the soup into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my! Both recipes sound incredible! We have a multi-purpose grill that gets used all the time. I've yet to try and make homemade soup though, but it didn't sound as scary as I thought it would!