When I was in high school my friends and I held deeply rooted opinions about incredibly stupid things. Thankfully, age has refined and focused our scope of interest. We are now serious adults with serious adult opinions about serious adult stuff. But when we were younger, we actually argued about who was the best rock guitarist. Jimmy Hendrix? Jimmy Page? There was always some outcast with greasy bangs who would bring up Steve Via, but you know… kids. The argument usually boiled down to Jimmy Page and wild abandon vs. Eric Clapton and controlled precision. Was it more impressive to bang away and play a few bars with your teeth like Page or acknowledge limits and work to impress within them like Clapton? As with all high school debates, it was a zero sum game. All or nothing. An adult can acknowledge the charms of both a Page-like high alcohol, highly extracted zinfandel and Clapton-like restrained, refined Bordeaux without triggering a brain swelling conflict event. Not so an adolescent. Opposing opinions take root in the youthful cortex and volley back and forth with notional mortars and grenades until one side, sensing imminent defeat, launches an all out attempt to escape the head entirely. That’s what causes zits.
This is a really long way of saying that Basque cooking is Eric Clapton. It’s all eggs and paprika. So when I tell you that this Basque dish, Piperade, has eggs and paprika, you should hum a few bars of “Walk Out In The Rain” instead of calling me Captain Obvious. So yes, it’s a simple dish. But it’s damned good. Backless good.
De-seed and slice both a green pepper and a tomato and saute in olive oil until mushy.
Normally you would add paprika and espelette pepper at this point, but I decided to substitute cayenne pepper instead. By “decided to substitute” I mean “used what I had at hand.” Judge me not. I also decided to add white wine and simmer because I wanted to see if cayenne and white wine could coexist. I was doubtful, but it worked. Both flavors came through with no loss to either. So add cayenne, paprika, and white wine and simmer.
There are all manner of variations with garlic, onion, whatever. It’s a pretty hard dish to mess up. Just keep it spicy. That may be my new catch phrase. “Be careful out there people. And don’t forget, keep it spicy.” /doublefingerpoint.