Shrimp skewers with smoked mozzarella and bacon

1 baguette, cut into slices 1⁄2 inch thick
6 strips bacon, cut in half lengthwise
4 1⁄4"-thick slices of Smoked Mozzarella (4 oz)
12 jumbo shrimp, heads and shells removed
16 whole basil leaves
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into pieces 1"x1"
1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 to 24 toothpicks
4 wooden skewers, about 12" inches in length

Preheat the charcoal or gas grill or broiler to high and preheat the oven to 350F. Cut baguette slices into 1" to 2" x 2" squares. 

Place bacon in a small saucepan, cover with cold water and blanche for 1 to 2 minutes. Strain and discard the hot water and wash with cold water. Drain on paper towel. 

Cut each slice of mozzarella into three pieces. Devein and butterfly the shrimp. Place the cheese into the opening of the shrimp, fold the sides of the shrimp over the cheese, and wrap bacon around the shrimp to enclose the cheese. Secure with one or two toothpicks. 

To construct the skewers, spear a piece of bread and slide it down to one end of the skewer, next spear a basil leaf, then a shrimp passing through it twice once near the head end and again near the tail end, and then a piece of bell pepper. Repeat this process two times so that each skewer has three shrimp. End with a leaf of basil and a piece of bread to serve as a bookend. 

Mix 1⁄4 cup olive oil with the garlic. Place the skewers in a baking pan and drizzle with the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the skewers over hot coals or 3" under a broiler heated to high. Grill on one side and then the other until the shrimp begin to turn pink, about 5 minutes total. 

Remove from the heat and replace on the pan. Drizzle with the remaining 1⁄4 cup olive oil. Transfer to the oven, close the oven door, and turn off the heat. Leave in the oven for approximately 5 minutes. 

To serve, place the skewers on a platter and pour the pan juices and any melted cheese over them. Serves 4.

From Cheese, Glorious, Cheese! by Paula Lambert