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Mimolette And Black Olive Panini & Pumpkin Soup

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Keep the colors Halloween with pumpkin soup and panini. Keep the colors Halloween with pumpkin soup and panini.

Mimolette And Black Olive Panini

Makes 2 panini

With 4 ingredients, this sandwich is proof that simple can still be sublime. I love the nutty, rich flavor of Mimolette – a cow's milk cheese from France that resembles a cantaloupe in its whole-wheel state – but you could use any aged, orange cheddar.

The black olive paste pairs nicely with the cheese, and continues the Halloween theme, but you could use any type of tapenade, pesto or spread for flavor.

4 ½-inch thick slices country-style or sourdough bread

Softened unsalted butter for brushing

4 to 8 slices Mimolette or sharp cheddar cheese

¼ cup black olive paste, tapenade, or finely chopped black olives

1. Heat a grill pan over medium high heat. Alternately, preheat an electric panini maker according to the manufacturers instructions. Brush one side of each bread slice with softened butter. Lay the slices, buttered side down, on a clean work surface. Smear all 4 bread slices with black olive paste, top 2 slices of bread with the cheese, and close up the sandwiches.

2. Place the sandwiches on the preheated grill pan and cook, weighting down the sandwich with a heavy skillet, until the bottom is golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip sandwiches and continue to cook until golden brown and the cheese is melted, 2 to 3 minutes more.

(Alternately, place sandwiches in panini maker and cook according to the manufacturers instructions until the bread is golden and the cheese is melted, 3 to 5 minutes.) Transfer the sandwiches to a cutting board and cut in half. Serve immediately.

Roasted Pumpkin and Tomato Soup

Serves 4 to 6

This hearty autumnal soup is a combination of my two favorites – tomato and pumpkin. Roasting the vegetables brings out their flavors more than just a boil in a soup pot. I like to use sugar pumpkins when they are available, but butternut squash or kabocha squash also work nicely.

1-1½ pound pumpkin or winter squash

1 pound ripe tomatoes, quartered

6 garlic cloves, peeled

1 sprig rosemary

2 sprigs thyme

1 red onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges

4 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups vegetable or chicken stock

½ cup heavy cream

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

1. Heat oven to 425°. Put all of the ingredients, except the stock, into a large roasting pan and toss with your hands to coat everything in the oil. Roast uncovered, tossing halfway through, until all vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes.

2. Discard the herb sprigs and transfer the vegetables, in batches, to a blender with the stock and puree until smooth. Pour soup back into a pan, stir in cream, and reheat thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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