Bruschetta tipica Peperonata con mozzarella e pesto Gorgonzola con miele
A few folks have given me feedback and their opinions about my last post. Most haven’t posted them to the blog so I’ll summarize. As I suspected, one half of the couple in my family who favors what I’ll term as “pasty bread” – so light as not to really be classified as Toast, per se – wrote back about her preference. We did agree about the whole jam and butter thing, though.
Two folks were on the side to try to convince me to buy a toaster oven. While I will acknowledge a greater degree of flexibility for making cheesy, melty things than with a toaster, I think I’ll just stick with the oven in that regard. Toaster ovens were actually banned, along with hot plates, from my university because they are a fire hazard due to the open heating element.Someone did actually set off a dorm smoke alarm when I was there – not me, just for the record – so I don’t really have a great memory of these appliances. Besides, in my wee NYC apartment kitchen we have room for only one major, counter-occupying device and the microwave trumps the toaster oven. So, the toaster is what we’re sticking with for the moment.
However, for the past few weeks, I feel as though we’ve been at a standoff, the toaster and I. It is now playing games with me. The plastic level has done summersaults only once. The latest thing is that it isn’t really toasting. It comes out that pale shade that others favor.
Then, that means I have to double-toast it, which is extra crispy-crunchy, not my ideal texture, but edible. Then, of course, I turned it way up and it charred one of the last pieces of good, farmer’s market bread that I had left. Arrggghhhh!!! Can’t win. Kitchen equipment is not supposed to be this aggravating!
So, for the moment, I’ve decided to go off toast, at least with the toaster. I’m going to use the broiler instead. It’s a bit trickier to get it to just the right shade of golden brown, but I’m up for the challenge. Besides, that way, I don’t have to face my reflexes being assaulted every morning by that wayward lever.
As I was on my toast kick, it made me pull out a few recipes that I had tucked away. With the weather getting warmer, a dinner of various small things, complemented by toasted bread, would make a great entertaining idea (as when a friend of mine and I took some of these things to visit another friend of ours who had just had her first child) or just a wonderful meal al fresco.
Peperonata (my version omits tomatoes and onions usually found in it)
Prep Time: 30-45 minutes
Serving Size: 6-8 adults as appetizer, depending upon size of peppers
2 Red Peppers, cored, deseeded, and cut into quarters
2 Yellow Peppers, cored, deseeded, and cut into quarters
2 Tbsp extra virgin Olive Oil
1/2 tsp aged Balsamic Vinegar
2 small cloves Garlic, minced finely or crushed in a garlic press
1 tsp dried or fresh Oregano
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C, Gas Mark 6). Place peppers in one layer on baking sheet. Place in broiler. Let cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the skin of the peppers is black in some places. You need to watch them carefully to make sure that they do not burn.
This is the trick to peeling the peppers. As soon as you pull them out of the oven, place in a plastic bag and tie the bag shut. Let sit for 15-20 minutes. This will steam the skin off of the peppers and enable you to peel them more easily.
Untie the bag. The peppers will be soft and pliable. Make a slit at the darkest part of the skin. It should have started to lift away from the pepper itself. Start peeling at this point, towards the edges. Making sure not to leave any of the skin behind. Cut the peeled peppers into strips about 1/4-inch wide.
In a bowl, mix together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, and oregano. Add peppers and stir until they are coated with the olive oil mixture. Serve with grilled or toasted bread.
Special Shout-Out: Entertaining Tip
This goes out to my friend Rob, who asked about getting away from his usual proscuitto e melone appetizer: On large white plate or platter, pepperonta in three or four around the cheese (depending upon how many people you are serving).
In between these, mound thinly sliced proscuitto. Slice small cherry tomatoes in half (if you can find garden-ripe red and yellow ones of various sizes, these would look the nicest) and dot around the rim of the plate in alternating colors.
Place a basket of grilled or toasted bread on the table you’ve brought into your gorgeous English garden and serve to your guests. Drinks of choice would be a lightly chilled, light Italian red wine, bellinis or proscecco. Your guests are sure to swoon over it.
As your main then, you can opt to serve something as simple as a lightly dressed mesclun salad and pasta with pesto. Dessert can be fresh seasonal fruit accompanied by freshly whipped cream. There! Not a melon in sight.