You thought I had abandoned this endeavor, didn’t you? Well no, I’ve just been exceptionally busy over the past few months. Since the last recipe in April, a case of mine had its hearing, I went through my last round of finals, graduated law school, took a trip to Vancouver, moved, and studied for and took the bar exam. Now that I’m woefully unemployed, I should have some more free time to tackle more recipes, although my opportunities will still be limited by my ever-dwindling bank account.
This recipe was relatively straight-forward and did not present a lot of chances for captivating photos. A slice of Manchego cheese is melted over dried niçoise olives, olive oil pudding, sourdough croutons, roasted garlic, diced Manchego cheese bits, and squares of roasted yellow and red peppers. The melted cheese is topped with a few arugula leaves. The recipe also calls for pieces of white anchovies, but unfortunately I couldn’t track those down very easily and didn’t want to ruin the recipe by using standard anchovies out of the tin can. Cost was a consideration there as well.
For some reason, the olive pudding did not thicken up the first time I made it, which is especially curious because I actually made that component by itself when I first bought the cookbook and it turned out perfect without any hassle. I’m not sure what went wrong yesterday. I made it a second time today, and halved everything to cut down on the excess, and it came out fine again.
Prepping the yellow and red bell peppers presented one of the most nerve-wracking moments so far. Before being diced into small squares, the peppers are coated with olive oil and literally charred over an open flame until the skin is completely blackened. Since I don’t own a barbeque, I did this on my stove top but freaked out when the peppers began crackling, popping, and occasionally having small flare ups on the stove. Due to the fact that I don’t have renters insurance, the skins were not as blackened as they should have been.
I also decided to make two version of this dish, one with Manchego and one with Swiss cheese. I practiced slicing cheese with my mandolin first using a block of Swiss that was in the fridge before trying the same with the more expensive Manchego. Both versions of the dish turned out fine.
The Swiss version, however, ended up being the prettier of the two because I haphazardly miscalculated how hot the Manchego plate would be after I took it out of the broiler, flipped it onto the floor, and ended up having to make a second Manchego plate with a less perfectly cut slice of cheese.