First attempt. I had blindly printed up a recipe from the Barefoot Contessa and added the ingredients to Amy’s shopping list. Now I settle into my laboratory today to make this sandwich for the first time. Only now do I notice such phrases as “place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes” followed by “set aside for 30 minutes” followed by “refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend.”

Blend this, buddy. You think I’ve got all day? I’m hungry now. This freaking thing has you roasting the red peppers whole and then, presumably, reaching into their burning flesh and tearing out burning seeds, ripping off volcanic stems, then shoving them into the deep freeze, then pulling them out to marinate, then in again…

I decide to go with what I know.

I cut up the peppers intro strips, of course carefully clapping the halves of the peppers together over the compost can to send seeds flying into the sink, the floor, and onto the wall. I dump them on a pan, oil, salt, pepper, and mix them all up. As usual, I’ve used way too much oil, so I wipe up a bunch with a paper towel and chuck that as well.

I slide the pan into the oven. The recipe called for 500 degree super roasting of the whole peppers. Normally, I’d roast the strips at, what, maybe 450 tops, but I’m too lazy and just leave it at 500. After a while, I check them and they’re quickly blackening. I give the pan a shake, which does nothing, and close the oven door, clapping my hands together like a real chef. I think about it and then remember that in the past I’ve decided that it’s actually worth carefully flipping flippable roasting things in the oven to get them roasted just right. I pull out the pan and use tongs to flip each and every pepper. Must have been 27. I put it back in. A master chef.

I’m supposed to use a delicious loaf of ciabatta but yesterday Amy went to the store late in the afternoon and all they had left were baguettes. I could criticize Amy’s choice of store-going, except she was hoping I would go earlier and I didn’t. Somehow I end up getting out of going and it involves teen logic as Maya wants me to catch up to them in watching “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” so we can all properly binge. The baguettes give me an out when the sandwich doesn’t taste right. This is known as the baguette clause. So I cut the baguette and toast it.

I mix up the olive oil, balsamic, garlic, salt and pepper. The recipe calls for two heaping tablespoons of salt. I cut that in half, which still seems like a lot. Now I pull the peppers out and mix them around in this little vinaigrette, stirring in capers. I can’t say I’ve ever added capers to something before (I’ve also never spelled vinaigrette before. Quick, close your eyes and spell it.)

Now it’s time. I slap on a layer of goat cheese to the bread, add a layer of roasted peppers with drizzled vinaigrette, some fresh basil leaves, three thin strips of red onion each, a dash of salt and pepper, top bread, and there it is! Sounds good, right? I serve one to Amy and one to Maya and we eat them without comment. No “Oh my god!” No “Wait, is that vinaigrette?!” They just munch on the day-old baguettes and finish off the sandwiches.

I shake my head and laugh. “Baguettes! Am I right?”



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