I´ve struggled against having a sandwich press for a long time. My kitchen is big and airy, but doesn´t have a lot of cupboard space, and what there is is very cluttered. There´s really no room for anything else, and it doesn´t help that I buy so many little gadgets and jars and tins of exotic ingredients.
But one day I gave in. There was a spare little press at my mother´s house, just begging to find a new home.It´s not the fancy kind with removable plates for easy cleaning, and it´s small, only for a single loaf-bread sandwich.
But already I love it.
There´s no end to the combinations. My golden rule was anything goes, as long there´s a lot of cheese to melt and go stringy. But even that can be ignored, as in these excellent olive paste and tuna panini by the Wednesday Chef.
However, the house favourite is still what we call the Amsterdam Sandwich, which is as un-Dutch as you can go.
Last summer we spent a long weekend in Amsterdam, where we fell in love with a little hole in the wall italian sandwich bar. It was on a broad street in the museum quarter, and had a couple of benches where you could munch your food and watch the leisurely bicycle traffic roll by.
You made your sandwich to order, and of course J doesn´t know the meaning of restraint, so his usual was a delicious hotch potch of ingredients.
This is the approximation I make here, and a pretty good ersatz panino it is.
White loaf bread
serrano ham (doesn´t have to be the all-out amazing stuff), sliced very thin
fresh mozzarella (ditto about amazingness)
It´s quite a mess, but because this kind of machine presses the edges, nothing is allowed to escape from the sandwich. When you take it to the plate, you can´t tell what´s inside until you slice it, and the mozzarella oozes all over, and the basil and tomatoes aroma wafts up.
The drawing is a sketch from a trip to Amsterdam in 1998.