Stretchy, mild fresh mozzarella is layered with briny olive tapenade to create a rich, savory sandwich. Sue Conley and Peggy Smith, of Cowgirl Creamery in Northern California, created this recipe for Nan Haynes, olive lover, Conley's life partner, and cheesemonger extraordinaire at Cowgirl's shop in the Ferry Building in San Francisco. The recipe is adapted from one in Cowgirl Creamery Cooks (Chronicle Books).
The Cowgirls make their own fresh olive salad with green and black olives, but it's fine to use chunky tapenade instead.
Makes 2 sandwiches (serving size: 1 sandwich)
1. Mix tapenade with orange zest and chile flakes in a small bowl.
2. Layer mozzarella with tapenade on 2 bread slices. Top with remaining slices.
3. Butter outsides of each sandwich.
4. Heat a large well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or a large, heavy nonstick pan over medium heat for a minute.
5. Place sandwiches in skillet and cook until golden-brown underneath, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until it's just as toasty. Low and slow is the key. Cheese will probably ooze out, but that's okay. It gives the sandwiches a nice crunchy fringe.