When I was in Barcelona I visited a classic churrería, which felt like the local spot to gather—a bit like the local café where you would grab a cup of tea and catch up with the latest gossip. It was cheap and cheerful, and they made sinfully good churros, served with rich hot chocolate so thick that you could stand them up in it. Although they are traditionally a breakfast food, if you switch an ingredient or two they make a great savory dish.
For the red pepper sauce
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and, when it starts to bubble, gently beat in both flours, the sugar, salt, and baking powder. Mix with a wooden spoon until it comes together, then crack in the eggs one by one and mix again. Place the batter in a piping bag fitted with a star-shaped tip, and chill in the refrigerator.
To make the red pepper sauce: Preheat the broiler. Cut the bell peppers in half and remove the seeds. Place skin-side up on an oiled baking sheet and broil for 15 to 20 minutes, or until blackened and tender. Place in a plastic bag and set aside to steam for about 20 minutes.
When the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skins and place the flesh in a blender with the garlic, olive oil, and tomatoes. Blend until very smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat the sunflower oil in a large, heavy pot over high heat until it is 350°F. Test the temperature with a tiny amount of the batter. If it fizzes when it hits the oil, you are ready to start frying.
Pipe the batter directly into the hot oil. Use a pair of scissors to snip each churro at the piping tip when it’s about 4 in long. Pipe out 10 churros. Fry the churros for 5 to 6 minutes, or until lightly pale golden. They will need to be turned carefully a few times with a long-handled slotted spoon.
Drain the churros on paper towels. Sprinkle with a little smoked paprika while still hot. Repeat until all the batter has been cooked. Serve with the red pepper sauce on the side.
The sauce can be made in advance, but the churros are best eaten hot from the oil.
Reprinted with permission from Rachel Khoo's Kitchen Notebook by Rachel Khoo, photographs by David Loftus (Chronicle Books, 2015).
"Vegetables are perishable, so we don't have any indication of what they looked like 500 years ago," says James Nienhuis, a professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Wisconsin.