While Andrew and I were saving for our wedding, I got a waitressing job to help out with expenses. I ended up meeting some amazing people and eating some fantastic food. The Grill was a really great restaurant with a focus on good food and community service. It was a small converted diner that focused on local foods, homemade everything, and bringing people together. They even donated a percentage of their profits to a different community-based organization each month. I was devastated when The Grill went out of business - my heart went out to the owners, and as the weeks went by after it closed, I started to realize how much I would miss the people, and of course, the amazing food.
The Cheddar Bacon Mashed Potatoes I shared with you were a favorite at The Grill, and this panini is another one. I used to love to put in my order for a Ham, Brie, & Green Apple Panini at the end of my shift, then sit at the counter with my sandwich and a pile of sweet potato fries or homemade potato chips. I attempted to recreate that panini, and I think I did a darn good job. Please ignore the fact that I have a red apple in my photos - certain husbands were not listening when I said "you can eat all the fruit you want, just leave me one green apple." So anyway, pretend it's green if you want.
Ham, Brie, & Green Apple Panini
8 slices crusty, chewy Italian bread
1 cooked ham steak
1 Granny Smith apple
8 oz. brie cheese
2 tbsp. butter
Cut the ham to fit pieces of bread. Press between paper towels to remove as much liquid as possible. Slice the brie and the apple. I prefer to leave the skin on the apple, but of course, do whatever makes you happy.
Butter one side of two pieces Italian bread. Place the first slice, butter side down, on a hot panini press. Top with ham, apple, and cheese. Place second slice of bread, butter side up, on top of the sandwich. Close the press and press down hard to "smush" the sandwich and get that classic panini shape.
You can easily cook two sandwiches at a time, on the press. If you don't have one, you can use a grill pan on the stove - just put a heavy pan with a can in it on top of the sandwiches to press the sandwich.
I served these with an amazing new discovery - Microwave Potato Chips! These chips are easy to make and unbelievably delicious. I don't keep potato chips in the house anymore, so it was a nice treat to be able to make just enough for us to eat, with none leftover to tempt me during the day!
These chips get amazingly crispy and take on a "kettle-cooked" flavor. We opted to make salt and pepper chips, which were delicious, but you try adding vinegar instead of pepper if you like.
Microwave Potato Chips
adapted from Eating Well
1 large Idaho potato, unpeeled, scrubbed
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Use a mandolin or a very sharp knife to slice the potato into 1/8" thick rounds.
Toss to coat in the olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Spread the chips in one layer on a large microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high 2-3 minutes. Chips should be starting to brown. Turn them over, the microwave on high 2-4 minutes. Keep an eye on them - once they burn, they are pretty gross. You may need to repeat this process to get the chips the color/texture you want. Once they are done, remove to a serving bowl/plate and repeat the process with the remaining potato slices.