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Grilled Mozzarella Sandwich with Roasted Peppers and Basil

Grilled Mozzarella Sandwich with Roasted Peppers and Basil

Today I had a cheese sandwich...because it's Cheese Sandwich Day in the foodblogosphere! It seems that a writer (Pete Wells) for Food & Wine magazine wrote an article about food blogs that rubbed some bloggers the wrong way. It opened with a reference to a now-outdated phrase ("cheese sandwich blog") which, according to Wells, was inspired by blog entries along the lines of  " I had a cheese sandwich..." and which he says is "Webspeak for all the dear-diary scribblings that don't acknowledge, let alone describe, life outside the author's dorm room." He then went on to paint most food blogs with the cheese sandwich brush, enunciate his ideas about what a good food blog is, and refer to a few sites he thought were good (only half of them actually blogs, but who's counting?).

The article wasn't all that bad. Wells has respectable food writing qualifications, and clearly spent at least fifteen minutes on research and maybe thirty minutes on writing, proofing and editing, which is probably all we can expect these days for this type of article. There is a soupçon of the paranoia that print writers rightly feel these days about their blogger competitors, but with the tsunami of blogs inexorably in their faces, can you blame them for feeling that they might be soon washed away? The only egregious error Wells made, really, was to quote (without identifying), for the purpose of ridicule, a few current food bloggers.

Wells, living outside this subculture, must have assumed that a few words from one or two of the thousands of cheese sandwichers would be ignored, or at least untraceable to any real blogs. Unfortunately, this assumption was false, and the wronged bloggers and their friends reacted with venom on a food blogger community site, and along the way created the latest web event: "Cheese Sandwich Day! Because in fact some people do care what we had for lunch!"

I don't feel wronged by the article (though of course I wish that had been mentioned!) but I'm happy to join in this food blog flash mob event by presenting my favorite grilled cheese sandwich: fresh bufala mozzarella, roasted peppers and basil on slices of freshly-made focaccia. It's a good bit of work for a lowly cheese sandwich but, of course, attention to detail and fresh, top-quality ingredients will raise an ordinary sandwich to memorable heights.

I hope someone thinks this is somehow interesting...

Grilled Mozzarella Sandwich with Roasted Peppers and Basil

2 slices Quick Rosemary Focaccia, about 3/4" thick
4 slices fresh bufala mozzarella
12 basil leaves
1 red pepper
1 T mayonnaise
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt to taste

Roast the pepper on a grill until charred on the exterior surfaces. Place in an air-tight container until cool. Being careful to capture the juices, remove and discard the charred skin, internal membranes and seeds. Marinate the pepper in a mixture of its juices and the balsamic vinegar overnight.

Reserve 4 of the basil leaves and chop the rest. Mix the chopped leaves with the mayonnaise and a teaspoonful of the roasted pepper marinade. Salt to taste. (Reserve the rest of the marinade for future use in a salad dressing.)

Cut the pepper into 4 pieces and dry with paper towels.

Spread the basil/mayonnaise mixture on one of the bread slices. Lay the pepper slices, the reserved basil leaves, and then the cheese on the bread. Top with the other slice of bread. Butter the upper surface of the top slice of bread.

Heat a heavy cast iron skillet on low for ten minutes. Melt a tablespoon of butter in the pan and place the sandwich in the pan, unbuttered side down. Cover and cook slowly for about ten minutes, until the bottom surface of the sandwich is golden brown. Turn the sandwich with a spatula and cook, covered, another ten minutes or so, until the bottom surface is golden brown and the cheese is melting.  Serve immediately.

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This is just too weird. The food cosmic waves strike again! I made a mozzarella, basil & roasted peppers sammich too! Of course I had a lot of other stuff in there too but woah! Good post by the way. And I care. I come here all the time to get food envy.

Your site is great, your photos fantastic, I stop by daily since I found it last month

No one will ever be able to please everybody

I now need a grilled cheese sandwich! :-)


Rest assured that I think your cheese sandwich is VERY INTERESTING! It looks wonderful and I just love the taste of warmed bufala mozzarella.

I couldn't agree more with your synopsis of the Pete Wells' article. I actually read Wells' writing (in F&W) on a regular basis and for the most part, he's pretty good.

But you're spot on with your point that he should have NEVER quoted directly from other blogs without attributing the quotes. That's just not good journalism!


Absolutely spectacular. Of course I knew you'd have something just wonderful. Nicely done as always.

It is definitely in the air! Blogging mozzarella & tomato, here. On gluten-free bread hot from the oven. And if I'd had the luscious looking basil you have, you can bet it would have been on mine, too. ;-)

Well done!

I find it very interesting indeed. In fact, I would take your writing, along with some of my other favorite food blogs, over F&W any day of the week.

A while back Mr. Wells also wrote a piece on wine blogs with similar results (i.e. most are boring, yadda yadda). He then recommended seven (?), half of which weren't actually blogs, and a couple others that were rarely updated.

To me this shines a bright light on what some traditional media writers do...which is, not much. The fact that you can write about 3-4 recipes per week and make each one interesting (not to mention your great photos), must scare the bejeezes out of the likes of Mr. Wells.

Cheers to your cheese sammy! Serve it with a spicy Austrian St. Laurent.

Yummy - what a beautiful & colourful sandwich!!! Looks delicious, and a nice post as well.

I find your "scribblings" more than interesting and dare I say tasty. Nay, I'll go one more, they are inspiring.

A Red Sox Fan in SF

Yum! I am most definitely interested in your sandwich! One of my absolute favorites.

Happy Cheese Sandwich Day!

What a wonderful sandwich. Happy Cheese Sandwich Day to you!

Beautiful & delicious. Wonderful combination.

Can a cheese sandwich look any more scrumptious? I sincerely doubt it. *serious drooling*

I echo farmgirl's words. I'm going to try this sandwhich sometime soon!


Oh my god. That looks too yum to be true.

Beautiful! I love roasted red peppers in a grilled cheese sandwich, but I haven't tried one with fresh mozzarella. I'm inspired.

Today is Stephen's birthday. So in addition to having a great web site, and a great cheese sandwich recipe which I will have to try, he is also having a birthday. Happy Birthday Stephen! Wish I could find an email address for you so as not to have to do this so PUBLICLY! However, we do what we can, and I guess you're not averse to a little exhibitionism!



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