Steak, Mushroom, and Salsa Criolla Panini


On a whim Sara and I decided to collaborate and make a panini. She made the rosemary focaccia while I made the inside of the sandwich. Starting with the salsa criolla, which is from my family's ethnic background of Peru, you thinly slice a white onion and leave it soaking in water for at least an hour or two, making sure to change the water periodically. This takes the edge off the onion and makes it much sweeter. Usually the salsa doesn't include tomatoes, but since we had some beautiful cherry tomatoes I decided to throw those in there too. Then I chopped some cilantro up and added the aji amarillo, which is a yellow pepper indigenous to Peru. I had a pureed jar of the peppers, but you can find it in the aisle of your local supermarket in the ethnic or Latin section. Next, while the bread was baking, I cooked another component of the sandwich, mushrooms. In a nonstick pan I cooked them down to a nice dark caramelized finish and set them aside. Lastly was the steak which was left over from the other night (somehow there was an extra steak that I managed to not inhale). I cooked it stove top over a medium heat to a nice medium-rare. Once the bread was ready I assembled the sandwich and topped it off with some green onions. We don't have a panini maker but Sara's old George Foreman Grill made an impromptu press.  - Gary

Rosemary Focaccia recipe adapted from The Kitchn 1 cup warm water (110° F) 1 tbsp sugar 1 tbsp dry yeast 1 tsp salt 3 tbsp olive oil + 1 tbsp for topping 3 cups flour 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary + 1 tbsp for topping 1/2 tsp black pepper

In a medium sized bowl, mix together water, sugar, and yeast.  Wait a few moments until the yeast starts dissolving and bubbling (this is "proofing" or "proving" that the yeast is alive). Mix in the salt, 3 tbsp olive oil, and half of the flour. After it has combined add the rest of the flour, 2 tbsp rosemary, and black pepper.

Lightly dust your counter or cutting board with flour and begin kneading your dough for about 8 minutes. You want it to be smooth and elastic.  If things start to stick dust on a little more flour, but be careful not to add too much.  Divide your dough in half, shape them each into a ball, cover with a dishtowel or plastic wrap and them them rest for a moment (5-10 min). This allows the gluten to relax so you're able to shape it in the next step.

Preheat your oven to 400° F. Grease a baking sheet/pan with olive oil and add one ball of dough. Using your fingers push out the dough into until it's about 9" x 6", or 3/4" thick.  This is just an approximation so don't feel you need to stick to it! (To be honest I can't remember what size I made mine.) If the dough is resisting just let it rest for a little and then get back to shaping it.  I like to press my fingertips into the dough to make the surface bumpy.  Brush on or drizzle some more olive oil and sprinkle the rest of the rosemary on top.

Let the dough rise for about 10-15 minutes, then bake for 15-20 minutes. When it's out of the oven I like to add even more olive oil on top. 

Notes: I baked each loaf separately since I made it in my small toaster oven. You can make both at the same time on the same pan if size permits.  One loaf was enough for two sandwiches. We paired the sandwich with a simple arugula salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. - Sara