By Daniel Leader and Lauren Chatman
Taunton Press, $18.95
You already know why panini are popular: who doesn't prefer a hot sandwich over a cold one? They're so popular, in fact, that some operators have standalone concepts that serve nothing else. Those places have the classics covered, but leave it to Leader and Chatman to elevate the basic panini concept several steps higher by starting with better breads and putting tasty ingredient combinations inside them. The end product is a book with 70 recipes that offer sophisticated, contemporary foods in a panini sandwich format. The roster includes such hard-to-say-no-to offerings as Filet Mignon with Mushrooms and Red Pepper-Garlic Mayonnaise; the Catskills Cubano; and Duck Confit with Apricot Jam, Dijon Mustard and Shaved Fennel. We were impressed by the beyond-tuna seafood recipes that feature smoked salmon, fresh salmon, sardines, flounder and smoked trout. Like the rest, they provide imaginative pairings that will fly off your menu.