…without burning down the house.
The Chef was on an errand and I wanted to make Salade Niçoise, which calls for roasted red peppers. So I leaned on this little video by Chef Shelley Young at The Chopping Block, et, voilà! My first effort was not too bad, although my peppers were nowhere near as evenly or precisely roasted as hers. I admit to being a little intimidated by a few sparks flying here and there, and at one point realized an electronic device recharging on the kitchen countertop right next to the open flame might have made for an impressive disaster.
But I achieved success and was proud to show off the end result to Chef David when he came back. He stood there watching me peel the char from the skin whilst slicing into his watermelon and wondered whether Chef Shelley showed it that way. Yes, I answered, and why—is it wrong? Nope, he said, and then explained his better, more efficient way of doing it. (He did not say it was a better, more efficient way, but you could just tell he was thinking that, if you heard him say it. But I do not mean to put words in his mouth, even though I knew darn well what he meant.)
The salad was more work than I imagined, although it was loads of fun to prepare. I’ll have it for lunch every day in the coming week; Chef David suggested I wait and add the tuna to the individual servings each day rather than all at once as the recipe suggests, for freshness. Also, I didn’t sear a piece of tuna like you’d see in a proper Salade Niçoise, because rare tuna (and really, rare meat of any kind) makes me yak. So instead, I’m substituting a fairly high-quality pouch tuna—not as fancy or authentic, but works fine for me, peasant that I am.
Tomorrow begins the annual nine-day celebration that is Birthday Week, starting with mine, and ending with David’s a week from Tuesday. We have plans to uncork an exceptional bottle of wine next Saturday to go with our ambitious dinner, but to enjoy ourselves all week. There will be cake, and there will be icing, lots. There will be a few small gifts, but mainly, we’ll thank the universe for our good fortune just now and celebrate our love for each other at a moment when any kind of celebration seems so elusive for so many.
If you have not already, I encourage you to try roasting a pepper over an open flame—the flavor, c’est incroyable!