About This Blog

This is, as the title indicates, my kitchen notebook (the header is actually a scanned image of the cover of a notebook that I started using about 25 years ago and the background is a stained page from that book). I am not a professional recipe writer. If you try any recipe here, please keep that in mind, these recipes have not been tested by an independent tester. The "recipes" are often not even really recipes but rather a list of ingredients that I've noted after preparing a dish on the fly that I thought came out well. Perhaps I've also added some instructions, but I rarely keep accurate track of what I've done in terms of time or temperature, I've just noted to the best of my memory (feeble) what I did.

Please feel free to take some inspiration from here, but on the other hand, please give credit where it is due. I also welcome any constructive comments that you might have if you are inspired to try a recipe. Questions are welcome, but keep in mind that I may not remember specifics. The dishes do evolve over time...

Thank you and enjoy!

Baked Tomatoes with a Crispy Sweet Pepper Breadcrumb Topping

Feel free to leave out the dried sweet peppers. I used to make this dish with a pinch of dried chile pepper flakes, but one time when I was making the crumbs I had a few newly dried sweet peppers sitting out and I threw those in instead of the spicy peppers and now I prefer the sweet pepper flavor in the crumbs. Maybe next time I'll add the spicy peppers as well. The last time I made these baked tomatoes I added the drizzle of pomegranate molasses for the first time and my husband remarked that the tomatoes seemed to be especially flavorful so I think that it may become a regular addition to the dish.

4 medium to large ripe but firm tomatoes of any color (beefsteak tomatoes are excellent)
Pomegranate molasses (unsweetened syrup), optional
4 thick slices of stale rustic bread
2 cloves garlic, minced
fresh or dried herbs of your choice, such as fresh basil, thyme or tarragon, dried oregano, a couple tablespoons of fresh or a teaspoon or 2 of dried, chopped or crumbled
1 or 2 dried sweet peppers without seeds, such as Sigaretta Dolce, Jimmy Nardello, or Melrose, broken into a few pieces
a pinch of hot pepper flakes (optional)
salt and freshly ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Remove the stems and cores from the tomatoes and cut them in half horizontally. Arrange the tomato halves in a baking dish that will hold them all without crowding them, I like to use one of my terra cotta cazuelas. Season them with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle a bit of pomegranate molasses on each slice for a bit of additional tanginess.

Cut the bread into chunks and grind it in a blender to make coarse crumbs. Add the garlic and herbs and blend in. Add the dried peppers and blend just until the peppers are finely chopped and mixed in but not ground into a powder.

Mound some of the breadcrumb mixture onto the top of each tomato half using all the crumbs, don't worry about crumbs that fall into the dish. Drizzle olive oil over each mound of crumbs to thoroughly moisten them and drizzle a bit into the baking dish as well.

Bake for about 30 minutes, more or less depending on the size and ripeness of the tomatoes, they should hold their shape when they are done and the breadcrumbs should be crisp. Serve immediately.

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