1. Spread almonds in a 10- by 15-inch baking pan. Bake in a 350° regular or convection oven, shaking pan occasionally, until golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
2. Trim crusts from bread; reserve for another use or discard. Cut bread into 1-inch chunks; you should have about 3 cups.
3. In a food processor, whirl nuts until finely chopped. Add bread, basil, red peppers, tomato paste, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons vinegar, brandy (if desired), paprika, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; whirl until peppers are puréed.
4. With motor running, gradually add 1/3 cup clam juice and whirl until incorporated, then gradually add olive oil; process until smooth. Taste, and add cayenne and more salt and vinegar if desired. If thicker than desired, whirl in a little more clam juice. Scrape into a bowl. Let stand about 20 minutes for flavors to blend before serving.
Nutritional analysis per tablespoon.