Smoked salmon sandwiches, chocolate paninis and more

<em>Bittersweet Chocolate Panini, Photo by Dan Kacvinski</em>

Bittersweet Chocolate Panini, Photo by Dan Kacvinski

Baby boomers have childhood memories of eating all sorts of comfort foods: meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup, french toast and tuna sandwiches.

Over the years, though, Julia Child and the Food Network did a lot to change these food habits, and helped boomers appreciate new, more eclectic food dishes. Macaroni and cheese might still end up on the dinner table once in a while, but now it’s more likely to be made with Roquefort or local goat cheese. And remember Mom’s old-fashioned meatloaf? It’s now lighter and tastier using ground turkey.

The boomer generation has become more adventuresome, more willing to try new food combinations at home. They eat in the swanky new restaurants and, in fact, many young boomers have become creative, celebrity chefs.

Here are some recipes that provide an innovative approach to some of the traditional dishes that were so popular in the past.

Preparing fresh and tasty mushroom soup is quicker than you can imagine by just going to the local farmers market to purchase a selection of exotic mushrooms, and replacing the classic tuna sandwich with a Smoked Salmon Panini is a divine substitute for an old favorite.

I promise that this turkey meatloaf topped with a light tomato glaze will become a family staple, especially when each slice has a hard-cooked egg in the center. And you won’t regret replacing french toast with a Bittersweet Chocolate Panini. It is a perfect breakfast treat when made with raisin-nut bread, or it can be served as dessert.


I have upgraded the smoked salmon panini, which are sold at the auto grills in Italy. The bread is sprinkled with olive oil and filled with smoked salmon, vegetables and herbs. The sandwich is then grilled while topped for a few minutes with a heavy plate, or use a panini press. This sandwich, cut into halves or quarters, makes an elegant appetizer or a simple and delicious addition to lunch.

1/2 cup Mustard-Dill Sauce (recipe follows)

12 slices Italian country style bread

12 slices smoked salmon

6 slices red onion

6 lettuce leaves

6 fresh basil leaves


Preheat panini press or grill.

Prepare Mustard-Dill Sauce, cover with plastic wrap, and chill.

Spread Mustard-Dill Sauce on 6 slices of bread; top each with 2 slices of smoked salmon and 1 slice of onion, lettuce and basil. Top with 6 remaining slices of bread.

Place the sandwiches in the preheated panini press and close the lid. Grill the sandwich until the bread is toasty golden brown. Slice in halves or quarters, and serve immediately.

Makes 6 paninis.


3 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard

1 teaspoon powdered mustard

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon red or white vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons chopped or snipped fresh dill


In a small, deep bowl, combine the mustards, sugar and vinegar; blend well. With a wire whisk, slowly beat in the oil until a thick mayonnaise forms. Stir in the dill. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes about 1 cup.


3 tablespoons olive oil

2 small leeks, white part only, thinly sliced

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 pound fresh white cultivated mushrooms, thinly sliced

1/2 pound shiitake or porcini mushrooms, thinly sliced

5 cups vegetable stock

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


In a large saucepan, heat the oil; add the leeks, onion and garlic; sauté over medium heat until tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Add the stock. Bring to a boil, cover partially, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes over medium-low heat until the mushrooms are tender.

Transfer the soup to a blender or processor; puree. Return soup to saucepan, season with salt and pepper, and mix well. Ladle into heated soup bowls.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.


Just when you thought this all-time favorite couldn’t get any better, along comes this recipe for turkey meatloaf — filled with sautéed vegetables, and roasted like pot roast with a light Tomato Wine Sauce. It contains a surprise: hard-cooked eggs, hidden in the center. This turkey loaf is also great served cold in sandwiches with a heap of french fries. 

Tomato-Wine Sauce (recipe follows)

3 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 cup finely chopped yellow onions

3/4 cup finely chopped green onions

1/4 cup finely chopped celery

1/4 cup seeded and diced red bell peppers

1/4 cup seeded and diced yellow bell peppers

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 raw eggs

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

3/4 cup tomato ketchup

3 pounds ground turkey

1/2 cup fine bread crumbs

4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled


Preheat oven to 375 F.

Prepare Tomato-Wine Sauce; set aside.

In a large, heavy skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and add yellow onions, green onions, celery, red and yellow peppers and garlic. Sauté, stirring often, until the moisture from the vegetables is evaporated, about 5 minutes. Let cool.

In a medium bowl, lightly beat raw eggs with cayenne, cumin, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Add 1/4 cup of the ketchup; blend thoroughly.

In a large bowl, combine ground turkey with the cooled vegetable mixture and the egg mixture. Using your hands, knead thoroughly. Add bread crumbs; knead 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer Tomato-Wine Sauce into a long roasting pan. Dampen hands and shape half of the turkey into a long, flat loaf. Place on top of the Tomato-Wine Sauce in the roasting pan. Place hard-cooked eggs lengthwise along the center of the molded turkey loaf. Place the remaining meat mixture on top of the eggs, pressing to make a firm loaf and sealing the edges. Drizzle remaining 1/2 cup ketchup over top of  loaf. Bake until the turkey is completely cooked through, about 1 hour.

Makes about 12 servings. 


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 pound tomatoes, chopped

1 cup dry red wine

1 head garlic, separated into unpeeled cloves


In a saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes with liquid and wine; simmer 5 minutes. Add unpeeled garlic cloves, cover, and set aside.

Makes about 2 cups.


8 small slices raisin-nut bread

1 (8-ounce) bar bittersweet chocolate, thinly sliced using a potato peeler

Garnish with cinnamon sugar, optional


Arrange the chocolate on 4 slices of bread, stopping 1/2 inch from edges. Cover with the remaining 4 slices of bread. Place on hot panini grill or in heavy skillet, cover with heavy lid, and grill until chocolate is melted. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Cut in  half and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

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