So today I learned three things:
1. If you hunt through a Spanish kitchen, you can find ingredients fit for the best of light meals, no shopping required.
2. Spanish homes are not required (or at least not inclined) to have smoke alarms.
3. If forgotten under a broiler long enough, bread WILL catch fire.
Needless to say, it’s been an interesting evening.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up for a second. Today was one of those days where I really was not interested in doing much after siesta time. Usually I’ll go for a coffee, wander the shopping district, or at least go for a run, but for whatever reason I just felt like chilling with Elisabeth, my host mom’s friend who lives with us. But around 7:30 I started feeling a little antsy. Elisabeth was out doing some grocery shopping and I’d browsed through one too many pages of Tastespotting, and something needed to be done.
Originally, I’d planned to make my first meal after Asa got back tomorrow from her long birthday weekend in Madrid. I wanted to show off my skills, after all. But today it occurred to me that maybe I ought to familiarize myself with the kitchen first. And since I was bored, I decided to give dinner a go. I knew there was the better half of a bell pepper lurking around, as well as bread and copious amounts of olive oil. Obviously I thought of roasted red pepper bruschetta and scuttled off to see what else could be thrown into the mix.
What I came up with was a mix of the peppers, capers, rounds of goat cheese, and – most surprisingly to me – anchovy fillets. Anchovies tend to get a bad rap in the US for being salty and smelly, but here they’re a staple. And having never tried an anchovy (I know, I know, and I call myself a foodie) I thought it’d be a great experiment. But of course, in my life something always goes wrong.
Roasting the peppers went fine. So did mincing the garlic (wielding very large knives have never been my strong point, so I consider this an accomplishment) and dealing with the oily, fishy fillets. But as I was slicing the peppers after I’d peeled them, I noticed a very strong burning smell. My heart sank – there was no way I’d put the bread in already…right?
WRONG. I guess I must have thrown the slices under the broiler after I took out the peppers, so they’d been in there for nearly FIFTEEN MINUTES.
I whirled around to open the oven door and smoke was pouring out. I probably already knew at that point what I was going to find, but it still surprised me – the bread was actually on fire. I had to pull out the pan and pour the water in the glass I was drinking from in order to put it out. Yikes.
Crazily enough, the underside was still raw, but there was no saving the slices. I threw them out just as Elisabeth came in from talking on the phone. She started laughing when she saw all the smoke, which I was frantically trying to wave out the open window. All in all, not my most impressive moment. I can at least be relieved Asa wasn’t around to see me nearly decimate her gorgeous kitchen.
But all’s well that ends well, as we had some more bread squirreled away and I had plenty of time to toast some new pieces – slowly this time. And the moral of the story goes like this: even when things go really really wrong, they can usually be fixed.
Bruschetta with Roasted Red Peppers, Anchovies, and Goat Cheese
simplified and adapted version of Mario Batali’s Anchovy and Roasted Red Pepper Salad.
Makes 8 bruschetta, enough for 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side
- 1 medium-sized red pepper, or ready-made roasted red pepper slices
- 6 anchovy fillets in oil, finely chopped (or to taste)
- 3ish tbsp capers, drained (I just eyeballed it)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- dribble of balsamic vinegar
- 8 sliced rounds goat cheese (about 1/4 to 1/2 a log)
- black pepper
- 8 slices crunchy baguette (day old is best)