Friday, December 29, 2006

Playing with my new toy!

We stuffed ourselves silly last night at the Japanese restaurant. They serve sushi and have the hibachi-style grills, so we did both only no one kept track of who was ordering what kind of sushi and we ended up ordering almost a meal's worth in sushi rolls alone! We may have saved ourselves the effort of cooking and cleaning, but we didn't save ourselves from over-eating!

I'm still feeling blah today - nasty sore throat and congestion that just doesn't let me get a good night's sleep. I don't really feel all that terrible, but lack of sleep is definitely wearing me down. My dad was convinced it was the stress of having guests and although I definitely don't agree - my parents and brother are very easy to have around - it probably will be easier to lounge around and get a little more sleep now that it's just the four of us again.

But on to my new toy, the Griddler. I tried it out the other morning and was very disappointed when I couldn't turn out a decent pancake. The pancakes were limp, lifeless and pasty looking - ugh. I couldn't decide if it was the pancakes or the griddle. There are some design elements of the Griddler that could be better, but, no way could it be a complete flop - the trusted folks over at the CLBB would never steer me wrong!

To prove it was a bad batch of pancakes and not a failing of my eagerly-awaited new toy, I decided I would make another batch of pancakes this morning. It took me a while to find a recipe that did not call for buttermilk, but I finally found one. (I did not want to use the milk and vinegar method because so far, that's not turned out very well for me - and it may well have been the reason the last batch failed.) Anyway, I finally found a very basic recipe that called for milk alone and woohoo - success! One of the keys is to heat the Griddler to at least 400º, maybe even 425º, not 350º like the booklet claims. The pancakes were light and fluffy and very good. I tend to prefer a whole grain or heartier type of pancake, but sometimes a plain old, no-frills pancake just hits the spot. No pictures though - they were gobbled up too quickly for that!
As I mentioned before, The Griddler does have a few things that could be improved upon. First, the heating element runs only along the outer edges of the plate, causing somewhat uneven heating. Snaking the coil back and forth across the area under the plates would have been a better way to go, IMO. I also think that the plates could have a little more heft to them - this would help them retain the heat better. As you use the Griddler, the plates tend to lose heat pretty quickly and take a while to come back to optimum temp. Still, now that I've had a successful run, I think these are things I can work around. The cleanup is really simple - one of my main reasons for putting the Griddler on my Christmas list.

The next test for the Griddler was grilling chicken and making panini. Making sandwiches for dinner not only allowed me to take a bit of a break from cooking, but it also allowed me to play a little more. Eventually I'll get around to trying new recipes, but for tonight, I stuck with a tried and true, the chicken, goat cheese and bacon sandwich that I modeled after a sandwich I had always enjoyed from Biaggi's. First I grilled the chicken on the Griddler, closing the griddle so as to grill on both sides at once. The chicken breasts cooked up in about 6 or 7 minutes (they were huge) and were nice and moist. I was tempted to try the bacon on the Griddler too, but decided it would be too messy, so I did that in the microwave.

Checking on the panini as they get nice and toasty............

Next I assembled the sandwiches, brushing the outsides of the bread with a bit of EVOO. I put them on the Griddler, closed the lid and minutes later - about 5 - delicious, toasty panini. Wow, I really liked the results. Grilling the bread like this gives it a great texture and I love the way pressing gently on the lid for a few seconds smooshes the sandwich down, making it much easier to eat. Doing these on the griddler was much easier than trying to toast them in a pan - flipping them without losing any of the filling was quite a challenge and they take twice as long to cook - in a regular pan, you're only cooking one side at a time. I can tell we'll be making good use of the Griddler for panini.........yum!


Next up, appetizers! When we're home for New Year's, we like to make a variety of appetizers to munch on all day - DH and I enjoying some wine and later on, champagne, the kids enjoying some sparkling cider. The hardest part? Deciding what to make!


  1. I *love* paninis from the griddler... so much cleaner and faster than how we used to do them!

  2. Joe - I was really pleased with how they came out. I think we'll be doing paninis quite a bit. I think we'll try a fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil one next. I'm off to search for more ideas......

  3. Anonymous9:52 AM

    That panini looks fabulous. Andy said he looked at getting me a press... I sure am wishing I had one today! That looks great.

  4. Erika - I don't think I ever would have gotten something just for paninis, so I'm so glad they had this - it's so versatile that I could justify squeezing it into my crowded kitchen cabinets. ;)