A few months ago, I inhaled the book Bringing up Bébé, which is a really fun look into French parenting by an American journalist living in Paris, who compares French and American parenting and their vastly different results (read: why do French kids eat more than chicken nuggets?).
I got some great insight into parenting…and also managed to work up an insatiable need for brie cheese and bread.
Fortunately, this was just before the holidays, and my grocery store kept running sales of buy-one-get-one-free brie and camembert wheels, which is to say that almost every day for the past two months, my lunch has consisted of a hunk of next-door bakery bread, a wedge of creamy brie or camembert, and an apple.
And I was perfectly content to eat this combination for lunch for the rest of time until one day about two weeks ago, I was especially hungry. So I took out some leftover ham and added that to my mid-day cheese plate.
But then my panini maker caught my eye. And like others, I am sort of obsessed with our panini maker right now because those grill marks are just so. gosh. dang. sexy.
And I thought…this would make a killer panini. Salty ham, creamy camembert…a sandwich was born, and it’s name was to be The Hamembert.
I played around with this sandwich for a couple of weeks…adding sautee´d apples, then pears, with and without onions, trying the onions caramelized, with spinach, with arugula, with fig jam, apricot preserves, and finally raspberry jam.
All of the variations were good, but The Hamembert needed stability. So I finally came to rest with thin camembert wedges topped with raw onion slices, ham, arugula, and raspberry jam.
And there you have it: The Hamembert.
Salty, sweet, creamy, peppery goodness, literally sandwiched between two pieces of buttered bread and grilled into warm and melty panini gold.
If this becomes your lunch for the next two months, I won’t tell if you won’t.
(Budget Tip! I like to buy a large ham when it’s mega on sale…cook it, slice it, and then freeze it in individual portions for us to eat on nights when cooking dinner just isn’t happening…saves us from take-out, and now I always have ham on hand for The Hamembert. Win!)
(recipe by me!)
(yields 1 sandwich, easily multiplied)
The Hamembert is a panini consisting of camembert cheese, ham, onions, arugula, and raspberry jam. It's a great balance of flavors, and as you can see in the recipe, can be easily manipulated to use what you've got on hand.
2 slices sturdy white bread (like sourdough, French, or peasant), sliced
butter (about 1 tbsp.)
app. 2 oz. camembert cheese (or brie)
1 tiny wedge of an onion, cut into thin slices (about 2 tbsp.)
2 thin slices ham (from a roast or deli ham)
1 tbsp. raspberry jam (can also use fig or apricot preserves)
2 small handfuls of arugula (or spinach)
Butter one side of each slice of bread. The buttered sides will be the outside of the sandwich.
Turn one piece, butter side down, and place a layer of camembert, then onions, then ham on the sandwich. Spread the jam on the inside of the other piece of bread and place on top of the sandwich. Take a few small pieces of camembert, and place them on top of the ham to "glue" the sandwich together.
Option 1: Heat a frying pan over med-low heat, or an electric griddle to 300*, or your George Foreman grill, and cook each side of the sandwich until golden brown (about 3 mins. per side), flipping halfway through.
Option 2:Place sandwich in a panini press and grill for about 3 mins.
Remove panini from cooking device of choice. Gently peel back top slice of bread and put two small handfuls of arugula on each sandwich. Cut each sandwich in half.