Sunday, October 8, 2017

Pear and Apple Galette with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

There's something therapeutic about rolling pastry dough, creating something beautiful and comforting, and sharing it with people you love. 




Pear and Apple Galette with Cinnamon Whipped Cream
Yield: 6-8 servings

Crust 
1/3 cup oat flour (see notes)
1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
14 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter (that's 2 Tbsp. shy of 2 sticks)
1/3 to 1/2 cup ice water

Filling
2 large apples (I used Granny Smith)
3 medium pears (I used Bosc)
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3/4 tsp. turbinado sugar or granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Whipped cream
2 cups (1 pint) heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Make the crust: Add flours, salt, and sugar to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a couple of times. Then cut the butter into cubes and add to the food processor bowl. Pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Pour in about 1/3 cup of ice water while pulsing, adding up to 1/2 cup if necessary. You're looking for a loose dough that's moist enough to hold together but not so wet that it turns sticky. Turn dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, wrap tightly, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Prepare filling: Wash your apples and pears. Cut pears in half and remove the core and that little fiber running from the stem to the core. Slice into 1/4-inch slices. You can nibble on the outermost slices--they don't work as well in the galette arrangement, and you'll have plenty of fruit. Slice your apples into 1/4-inch slices to match. I put my sliced pears and sliced apples into two separate bowls, which helped when it came time to arrange the fruit on the crust, but you don't necessarily have to do it that way.

Squeeze your lemon over your cut apples and pears. In a small bowl (like a cereal bowl), combine brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, and ginger. Sprinkle this mixture over the apples and pears, and toss them gently but well. Hang onto the cereal bowl; you'll use it later.

Assemble the galette: Remove chilled dough from the fridge, and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll until the dough is about 1/8 inch thick, maybe a little thinner. You're aiming for basically round, but this is not an exact science. Mine was more oval-shaped, and about 12 inches in diameter in the shorter direction. Be sure to fully pick up the dough a few times while rolling, to keep it from sticking to your counter.

Line a baking sheet or pizza pan with parchment paper, and transfer your dough onto it. Turn on the oven to 425. Arrange sliced pears and apples in an overlapping pattern, leaving a 1- to 2-inch border around the edge. I alternated the pears and apples so each slice of galette so each slice of galette would have a good balance of both fruits. I wound up with about half a pear and half an apple left, which made a lovely snack while the galette baked.

Fold the edges of the crust in over the edge of the fruit. Again, this is not an exact science and isn't intended to look meticulous. Rustic is the goal! Get your remaining 2 Tbsp. butter and cut it into little cubes. Dot them over the surface of the fruit. Now, remember that cereal bowl from earlier? In it mix your 3/4 Tbsp. turbinado sugar and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, then sprinkle that over the whole galette.

Bake at 425 for 45-50 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through to ensure even cooking. You want the fruit to be tender and the crust to be nice and toasty.

While the galette is baking, put a medium mixing bowl and your beaters into the freezer to chill, do some quick kitchen cleaning, and munch on any leftover fruit pieces.

Make the whipped cream: Into your chilled bowl pour the heavy whipping cream. Beat for about a minute on high speed, until it's kinda foamy and just starting to thicken. Gradually add the sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Continue beating on high speed until stiff peaks form. Chill until ready to serve.

Serve the galette warm, at room temperature, or chilled. Use a sharp knife to cut it into wedges, and dollop each serving with whipped cream.

Notes
  • Instead of buying oat flour, you can easily make it yourself. Just add a heaping 1/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats to a small food processor, and give it a whirl.
  • Crust adapted from The Faux Martha, filling and method from The Kitchn, and cinnamon whipped cream from Genius Kitchen.
  • As written, I had far more whipped cream than was necessary. You could probably halve the whipped cream measurements and be perfectly fine. 
  • If you're lucky enough to have leftover galette, it actually warms nicely in the microwave. About 60 seconds for one serving was perfect for me. 


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Ethiopian Cucumber-Mango Salad


In my last post you may recall that I had a little soapbox moment about lumping all African countries together instead of recognizing them as very distinct countries and cultures.

Well, apparently I have now accidentally lumped two African countries and cuisines into a single menu, despite my best intentions. As it turns out, the ambiguous "East African" salad that wouldn't commit to a specific country but inspired me to cook up some Malagasy food, is actually Ethiopian. While typing up the recipe, I did a quick search to see if Cooking Light had an online version of the Cucumber-Mango Salad recipe. They do. And the online version very clearly identifies it as Ethiopian. So there you go.

Ethiopia and Madagascar, I acknowledge your distinctness, honor you as two different countries, and appreciate your foods.

Ethiopia's Cucumber-Mango Salad was a win. The longer ingredient list made for all sorts of flavors and textures pinging around in my mouth. The cinnamon, cumin, and clove hint at Indian curry flavors, while the tomato, mango, and cilantro are reminiscent of Latin salsa. The cucumber and red onion add crunch, and the lime juice wakes everything up and ties it all together. Mine turned out a little mushier than the cookbook photo suggested, but the taste was stellar. If you're mush-averse, I'd suggest using firm tomatoes or leaving them raw.


Ethiopian Cucumber-Mango Salad
From Cooking Light's Global Kitchen cookbook
Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients
1 cucumber, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1-1/2 cups finely chopped red onion
1/2 tsp. salt

A drizzle of peanut oil (I used canola)
1 lb. tomato, chopped and seeded (ideally drained, too)
3 Tbsp. chopped peanuts (dry-roasted, preferably unsalted)
1-2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped*
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne
Dash of ground cinnamon
Dash of ground cloves

1 garlic clove, minced
1-2 mangoes, peeled and diced (about 1-3/4 cups)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime, juiced

Directions
Toss the cucumber and red onion with the salt, and set in a colander to drain for at least 20 minutes.**

Heat a medium to large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, followed by the tomatoespeanutsjalapenoscoriandercumincayennecinnamon, and cloves. Saute for just a few minutes, until the tomato is tender and warmed through (about 5 minutes tops). Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium to large bowl gently toss together the cucumber mixture, tomato mixture, garlicmangocilantro, and lime juice.

Notes
*If you can find red jalapenos, then do one red and one green. I used just one jalapeno, and the salad was very mild. Could have easily tossed in another and been totally fine.
**The recipe said to include the garlic at this stage, but I was afraid it would just fall through the holes in my colander. So I set it aside in a separate tiny dish with a sprinkle of salt.





Monday, July 31, 2017

Malagasy Chicken with Ginger (Akoho sy Sakamalao)


Note to self: onions that are simmered in a luscious amount of coconut oil until they're so soft they melt in your mouth ... are not photogenic. More important note to self: they're terrific for eating.

While flipping through reading like a novel the Global Kitchen cookbook, an East African Cucumber-Mango Salad recipe caught my eye but also presented a dilemma. You see, it reeeeally bothers me when people treat the entire African continent as a single country, culture, or people group. It's just wrong. So I was miffed that the recipe was associated with the broader region of East Africa rather than a specific country ... to the point that I almost wrote off the recipe on principle. But it sounded so yummy and summery! So I struck a compromise with myself: I'd find a main dish recipe from a specific country in East Africa, and make this ambiguous Cucumber-Mango Salad as a side dish.

The winner of that internet search was Akoho sy Sakamalao--literally "chicken and ginger"--a dish hailing from Madagascar. To be honest, the recipe sounded good but not amazing. The ingredient list is simple, the cooking technique un-fussy. But my first bite revealed the dish to be far greater than the sum of its parts. There's some kind of magic happening with the ginger-lemon-garlic rub, the caramelizing onions and bell peppers, the nutty coconut oil, and the bed of simple rice soaking up all those flavors.

All in all, a wonderful meal! The Akoho sy Sakamalao recipe is below, and the Cucumber-Mango Salad recipe is here. Thanks, Madagascar!


Malagasy Chicken with Ginger (Akoho sy Sakamalao)
Adapted from Global Table Adventure
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
Zest from 1 lemon
4 chicken thighs (I used boneless, skinless, without the drumsticks attached)*
1/3 cup coconut oil**
1 orange bell pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cooked white rice, for serving

Directions
Combine the garlic, ginger, and lemon zest, and rub it all over the chicken. Cover (or put into a plastic zip bag) and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Overnight or all day would be perfectly fine.

In a large skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Brown the chicken until it's a lovely golden color on both sides. When you add the chicken to the pan, your oil will probably go crazy. I recommend putting a lid on the skillet, but tilt it to let steam out, and pull the skillet off the burner to let the oil calm down a bit any time you need to mess with the food inside.

When the chicken is beautiful, take it out of the pan, and season it with salt and pepper. Add the bell pepper and onion to the pan, and saute until softened. Add the chicken back to the pan, lower the heat, and put a lid on (not tilted this time). Let it simmer for about 45 minutes, until the chicken is super tender. I gave the skillet a good shake/slide/jiggle every so often to keep things from sticking.

Cook your rice while the chicken and veggies are simmering.

Nibble a bit and add more salt and pepper if needed. To serve, spoon a good portion of rice onto your plate. Top with onion/bell pepper mixture and a chicken thigh. Scoop some of the sauce over the whole thing--the sugar from the onions and lemon will have caramelized nicely, and all that glorious flavor will be packed into your coconut oil sauce.

Notes
*The recipe on Global Table Adventure uses bone-in thigh quarters (leg and thigh both). I decided to go for just thighs in order to have smaller portions and less meat, and at the store I went into auto-pilot and got boneless skinless, though bone-in probably would have been more flavorful.

**I couldn't quite bring myself to eat an entire 1/3 cup of coconut oil by myself, so I ended up scooping it only sparingly over my plate ... which meant that a lot of that glorious caramelized flavor was wasted. If I make this again, I'd probably scale back to 3-4 Tbsp. coconut oil instead of a full 1/3 cup.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Finnish Pulla Bread with Apricots and Pistachios


Have you had the pleasure of watching The Great British Baking Show (a.k.a., Bake-Off)? If you like baked goods and you like seeing a more positive side of humanity, I absolutely recommend it. Unlike U.S. American food competition shows, the contestants and judges are actually genuinely nice to each other, and they genuinely seem to care more about having fun with their creative outlet than with winning.

Well, several months ago I watched all the seasons of Bake-Off that Netflix would allow, and though I was thoroughly wowed by every episode, I found myself most inspired by the enriched breads, as these bakers kept creating succulent doughs studded with fruit and spices and shaped into intricate braids and knots that shimmered with sticky sweet glazes. This past weekend I finally went for it!

Based on the numerous pulla recipes I read during the last 48 hours, pulla is a traditional Finnish bread. It's a yeasty cousin to brioche and challah; flavored with cardamom; generally shaped into a braid, a wreath, or buns; and traditionally served with coffee. Some recipes included fruit or nuts, while others were more basic. So I wound up making a more plain, traditional loaf and a more jazzed up loaf.


Finnish Pulla Bread with Apricots and Pistachios
Yield: 2 loaves/braids*
Source: I referenced many recipes but mostly followed the ingredients from Around the World in 80 Bakes and the process from All Recipes

Ingredients
6 Tbsp. butter, melted, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups milk (at least 2%; I used part 2%, part half-and-half)
4-1/2 tsp. active dry yeast (or 2 packets, 7 g each)
2 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. sugar (1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp.)
3/4 to 1 tsp. ground cardamom**
700 g all-purpose flour (for me this ended up being about 4-2/3 cups)

Zest of 2 oranges
16 dried apricots, finely diced
40 g pistachios, finely chopped

1 egg

Directions
Melt the butter and allow it to cool to room temperature. Warm the milk to 110 degrees.*** Go ahead and measure out your flour into a smallish bowl. You'll add it in increments, so it's easy to measure once and then eyeball it throughout the different steps in the recipe.

To a large bowl add the milk, yeast, salt, sugar, cardamom, and about 1 cup of flour--enough to make a runny batter. Beat the batter until it's really nice and smooth. (For me, this was a couple of minutes on medium speed with my little handheld five-speed mixer.)

Add some more flour (1-2 cups) and continue beating until it's again smooth and elastic. If you're using a hand mixer like mine, aim for more like 1 to 1-1/2 cups flour. I added close to 2 cups, and it made the dough too thick--it just kept climbing up the beaters!--so I had to switch to beating by hand.

Now add the melted butter. Beat the dough some more, until the butter is fully incorporated and the dough looks smooth and glossy. Add the rest of the flour and keep on mixing until it's fully incorporated. If you have a good quality stand mixer, rejoice! If you don't, you'll get a good arm workout!

Now, lightly flour a clean countertop, and turn the dough out onto it. Invert your mixing bowl over the dough, and let the dough (and your arms) rest for 15 minutes. When those 15 minutes are up, knead the dough for a good 10-15 minutes, until it's nice and smooth.****

Remember your mixing bowl? Spritz it with a bit of cooking spray, put your ball of dough inside, turn the dough so all of it gets lightly coated with oil, and cover the bowl with a damp, clean kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm, undrafty place until it's doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch down the dough. If jazzing up your bread, add your orange zest, apricots, and pistachios now. Knead them into the dough. Let it rest for another 5-10 minutes (on the counter is fine, covered with that damp kitchen towel you used earlier).

Divide your dough into 6 portions, as equal as you can get them. Roll each portion into a long rope, about an inch in diameter.

Gather up 3 ropes, and pinch them together on one end. Gently braid the 3 ropes together, and when you get to the end, pinch those ends together as well. Tuck both ends (top and bottom) under the braid, so you have a nice, tidy-looking loaf braid. Repeat this process with the other 3 ropes to make your second loaf braid.

Place braids on a greased baking sheet. Spray the tops with oil, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400. Beat an egg really well, until it's super smooth. Remove the plastic wrap from the loaf braids and very gently brush some beaten egg over the loaves. Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating the pan half-way through the baking time, until the loaves are browned, glistening, and look like they should be in a bakery display case!

Notes
*Initially I planned to make just one braid, but one recipe I read made an excellent point: if you're going to go to the trouble of making a homemade yeast bread--including all the kneading and rise time, you might as well make two or more loaves and have plenty to share. Your friends and coworkers will thank you.

**I saw widely varying cardamom measurements and settled on 3/4 tsp. When I nibbled some dough (I'm weird like that) the cardamom flavor was pretty subtle. So I added another 1/8 tsp. or so to the loaf I made with apricots, and kneaded it in along with the apricots, pistachios, and orange zest. That was still a nice amount of cardamom without feeling overwhelming.

***Some recipes I read said to scald the milk by bringing it to a near boil on the stove and then letting it cool to 110 degrees. I simply warmed mine in the microwave until it felt warm but not uncomfortably hot.

****I was expecting mine to reach a super smooth, satiny texture like I get with cinnamon roll dough ... but my pulla dough never got to that stage, even after 15 minutes. It was smooth, but the dough felt denser and heavier than I'm used to. I don't know if it's supposed to be that way, or if it got thrown off by some combination of my technique, the temperature and humidity of my kitchen, the flour measurement in the recipe I followed, or the general mood of the bread gods that day.




Sunday, May 14, 2017

Vietnamese Shrimp Noodle Bowl (Bun Tom Xao)


The first time I remember having Vietnamese food, it was at a pho restaurant in Los Angeles. My family got pho on my brother's recommendation, but I ended up ordering some other dish. Though I don't recall the name of the dish, I remember that it smelled gross but tasted pretty good. The gross-but-good culprit? Fish sauce. It truly does smell terrible. But when you mix it with something sweet, something acidic, and something spicy, it somehow transforms into this tasty thing that leaves you wanting more.

This dish comes from the Global Kitchen cookbook. And I'm happy to report that I could find all the ingredients locally. I've found fish sauce, rice vermicelli, and serrano peppers at both HEB and the north Walmart. If you don't see rice vinegar with other vinegars, look in the international and/or Asian section of your grocery store.


Bun Tom Xao (Vietnamese Shrimp Noodle Bowl)
Slightly adapted from Cooking Light, as seen in Global Kitchen cookbook
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients
1/2 cup warm water
3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1-2 serrano chiles, thinly sliced

3 cups sliced cucumber (about 1 large cucumber)
4 cups green leaf lettuce, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup torn fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup torn fresh basil or Thai basil leaves

5 oz. rice vermicelli noodles
1/2 cup peanuts, coarsely chopped (toasted if desired)
1/3 cup sliced green onions (1/4" slices) (about 2 green onions)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. dark brown sugar (I used light brown)
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp black pepper (or white pepper if you have it)
1 lb. shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed (thawed if frozen)
Canola oil

Directions
In a two-cup measuring cup or small bowl, combine warm water and sugar, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add lime juice, rice vinegar, fish sauce, and serranos. It's going to smell seriously funky, so cover it with plastic wrap to keep that funk at bay, and set aside while you prepare the rest of the meal.

Peel cucumber if it's bitter. Cut into quarters lengthwise, then slice thinly. Toss with the lettuce, cilantro, mint, and basil.

Cook the rice vermicelli according to package directions. Rinse very well in cold water, and set aside to drain well. These noodles are super starchy, so if they're sitting for very long, give them another good rinse if they start to get sticky.

While the noodles are cooking, toast your peanuts, if desired, and allow them to cool before chopping. Slice your green onions and chop your garlic.

Combine cornstarch, brown sugar, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Add the shrimp and toss to coat well. If you have a wok, now is its time to shine. Otherwise, a large skillet will do quite nicely. Heat your wok/skillet over high heat, and add a swirl of canola oil. Add the shrimp to the pan, and cook until they start to develop a nice sear. When they're almost done, add the green onion and garlic, and stir-fry for about 30 seconds to 1 minute more. Remove from heat.

To serve, put a generous portion of the lettuce mixture in the bottom of each bowl. Top with noodles, shrimp, and chopped peanuts, and about 1/4 cup of the fish sauce-lime mixture.

Notes

  • I've also made this with boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped into small, thin slices about the size of medium shrimp. And I actually liked it better with the chicken. If you use chicken, prepare and cook it the same way; you'll just need to cook it a bit longer than the shrimp.
  • When I made this for just myself, I used only 1 serrano chile. When I made it with a friend I put 1 serrano in the sauce and sliced the other for an optional addition at table.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Apricot Rose Tartines

One of the food delights I'm enjoying this year is a monthly gathering with a few foodie friends. Each month we pick a theme (like chocolate or pasta), and create a menu based on that theme. This month's theme was a spring-inspired high tea, with a menu infused with edible flowers and herbs. My contributions were these apricot rose tartines and some cucumber radish tartines.

I looked at a bunch of recipes, and drew inspiration especially from recipes in Wild Spice and Honey and Co., but ended up cobbling together something pretty distinct from anything I found online or in my slowly growing cookbook library. If I were a really legit food blogger, I'd make these tartines again to refine the ingredient quantities, instructions, and photography before blogging about them. But who has time for that? (And who can eat that much mascarpone without becoming ill or large?) So I've done my best to capture what I did, but these tartines were far from an exact science.


Apricot Rose Tartines
Yield: about 40 tartines
HercheyK original

Ingredients
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup water
6 whole black peppercorns
1/2 of a cinnamon stick
Approximately 40 dried apricots
1 tsp. orange blossom water
8 oz. mascarpone cheese, softened
1/2 cup fresh rose petals, very finely chopped
1 Tbsp. dried lavender buds
Fresh lemon zest, from about 1/2 of a lemon
Fresh orange zest, from about 1/3 of a medium-small orange
1 (8.3-oz.) baguette, sliced into rounds
A couple handfuls shelled pistachios
Fresh mint

Directions
To a medium saucepan add sugar, water, peppercorns (keep them whole), and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat so it's somewhere between a rapid simmer and a slow boil. Let the mixture cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, then remove from heat.

While the sugar mixture is cooking, cut up your apricots into fat matchsticks--about 4 sticks per apricot. When your apricots are cut and your sugar mixture is finished cooking, fish out the cinnamon stick and peppercorns. Add the orange blossom water and the cut apricots to the pot. Stir it so the apricots get nicely coated with the syrup. Breathe in the glorious fragrance. Put a lid on the pot and pop it into the fridge (on a potholder) to chill and steep.

To make the spread, combine the mascarponerose petalslavenderlemon zest, and orange zest in a bowl. Stir to combine well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble the tartines.

Slice the baguette into rounds. I ended up with I think 43 slices not counting the ends, but it'll vary based on the exact length of your baguette and how thick your slices are.

Heat a dry skillet over medium-low heat and toast the pistachios for a few minutes, until they just start to toast. Be sure to shake or stir them frequently to keep them from burning. Remove them to a plate to cool. Chop them fairly finely.

Now's a great time to wash your fresh mint and set it out to air-dry. Right before assembling the tartines, chiffonade the fresh mint. Chiffonade is basically just a fancy way to say, slice it into really thin threads.

When the apricot mixture has chilled sufficiently, assemble your tartines. Spread each with a schmear of the mascarpone mixture. Arrange a few apricot pieces on top--about the equivalent of one apricot per tartine. Sprinkle pistachios over the top. Finally, top with a few ribbons of fresh mint.

Note: If you don't have orange blossom water, squeeze in some fresh orange juice or add some orange zest to the sugar-apricot mixture. It won't give you the same floral quality you'll get from orange blossom water, but it should still be quite yummy. However, I very much recommend getting some orange blossom water! It tastes truly magical, and you can get it on Amazon if you can't find it locally. For more orange blossom water uses, see my Orange Blossom Iced Tea post and the Tunisian Orange Almond Cake recipe linked in my Flavor Trip to Tunisia post.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Hungarian Tomato-Pepper Stew (Lesco)

Have you ever had stew for breakfast? As of a few weeks ago, I have!

When my brother came to visit last month, I basically forced him to join in my international cuisine challenge. We settled on breakfast and decided to go with a European country we're less familiar with. 20 minutes of Googling recipes later, and we settled on Hungarian breakfast stew, served over creamy polenta (which is, apparently, a common breakfast element in Romania), with a fried duck egg on top (because I'd just bought duck eggs from some friends, and we were excited to try them).

I'm seriously slacking in the photography department lately, mostly because I've been sharing meals with friends instead of eating alone. Which is an excellent thing for me, but it means I don't have a lovely photo to share with you. Sorrynotsorry.

Hungarian Tomato-Pepper Stew (Lesco)
From The Spruce
Yield: 4 servings (see notes)

Ingredients
1-2 slices bacon
1 Tbsp. oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 pound of peppers, sliced into 1/4" strips - use Hungarian wax peppers if you can find them, or banana, Italian, or green bell peppers, or some combination thereof
4 medium or 3 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1-1/2 tsp. sugar
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sweet Hungarian paprika

Directions
In a large skillet, cook bacon according to package directions. Remove bacon to a plate to cool, but leave all that tasty grease in the skillet.

Add in the oil and onion, and cook for about 5 minutes on low heat. Add pepper(s) and continue cooking for 15 more minutes. Add tomatoes, sugar, salt, and paprika to the skillet, and let it cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it looks and feels like a chunky tomato sauce.

Meanwhile, crumble the bacon after it has cooled; stir it into the dish when it's close to being done.

Notes
  • This made 4 moderate to generous servings if served with polenta and a fried egg. If you're not making accompaniments, then this recipe may only give you 2-3 servings.
  • I went to the store fully expecting to be stuck with green bell peppers, but they actually had Hungarian wax peppers! The sign said they're medium-hot, so I decided to get one green bell pepper to bring down the heat level, and used wax peppers to make up the rest of the pound. The dish didn't taste super spicy, but I was coughing something awful while Josh was cutting the wax peppers.