Fideos a la Shun, sorta

My dear friend Shun, as I affectionately call her, shared this dish with me many moons ago, and I was hooked after my first try. Fideos (noodles) are a simple symphony of spicy, smoky and fresh flavors. It is sometimes called sopa de fideos, which translates to dry noodle soup.

It makes for a great side dish, but I often eat it as a main course. Traditionally, it is served with crema fresca (creme fraiche), queso fresco and avocado. A great option for a meat-free menu, and delicious to boot. Another plus, it is prepared in a jiffy or rápidito! I made this batch at the last minute to take to a party and was unable to find tomatoes that were ripe enough, so I opted for good canned ones. Likewise, I had no luck in the avocado front, so no avocados for me! You decide how much heat you want and adjust the number of serranos accordingly, you may also remove the seeds, this will further reduce the heat level.

Fideos a la Shun
12 oz fideo pasta or angel hair
4 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion
2 garlic cloves, whole
1 or 2 serrano peppers, to taste
5 fresh Roma tomatoes, ripened OR
1 can (15 oz.) stewed tomatoes
2 tbsp chicken flavor bouillon (like Knorr or Maggi)
Water
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cumin powder
Salt and pepper to taste
For plating:
Queso fresco, crumbled
Crema fresca
Avocado slices or small cubes

I would suggested getting the sauce ready first. Shun’s recipe calls for the onion, garlic, serranos and fresh tomatoes to be roasted first. You can skip this step, but it does add an intensity and complexity to the dish, so if you have the time–about 10-15 extra minutes–you should do it.

I use my comal or grill pan for this, getting it nice and hot, then sear the sliced onion, whole serranos, garlic and tomatoes (fresh). Once  seared, dump the whole thing into your blender or food processor, adding the chicken bouillon, cumin, oregano, salt & pepper and enough water to get things moving. Set aside.

Heat a large saute pan over high heat add the oil and break the pasta into it, the purpose of this step is to toast the pasta, but don’t walk away, it burns rather quickly and that will ruin the flavor of the dish. The noodles will change color and turn golden brown.

Carefully, VERY carefully add the pureed sauce and watch yourself! It becomes the evil spitty monster at this point, add enough water to ensure the noodles are submerged in liquid. Lower the heat so it simmers gently, check the seasoning and adjust as necessary.

The noodles should be al dente, when done. It will take about 20 minutes for the pasta to cook and you may need to add more water as it cooks down. To plate: spoon some noodles onto a plate, top with crema, avocado and the crumbled cheese. Pull up a chair and enjoy!

To see more of the step-by-step process, click here.

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris
PS: Thanks, Shuni!

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Tuesdays with… FOODALOGUE!

Ok, my bloggies, it’s that time again and I’m excited to introduce you to this lady, Joan of Foodalogue! I really really love this gal, she had me at Culinary Tour Around the World and has kept me for every bite she shares. Joan is part Spanish, Italian (I think), photographer, traveler, publisher, tour guide, chef–the list goes on! The reason you’ll like her, is because she’s an awesome writer, a kick-ass photographer, her recipes are impressive and you can just tell she’s just ‘good people’.

With such a resume, I HAD to ask her to honor me with a guest post and that she did. I’ll get out of the way so you too can get better acquainted.

What is the elevator pitch for your blog?

It’s a well-designed blog by a home cook who takes food to the next level with creative interpretations and finishing touches, spiced with light narratives, photography, and travelogues.

Why and when did you decide to become a blogger?

I’ve been involved in desktop publishing in the workplace for years so it was a natural segue and the perfect forum to meld my passions — food, travel, photography and writing. I began FOODalogue in August 2008.

What’s next for your blog?

FOODalogue has been strictly savory but I’ve recently started to think about baking…something I’ve not tackled because I’m always watching calories. I also hope to travel more next year so I guess I¹ll be updating my I ATE series from new locations.

Who’s playing on your IPod?

Mixed bag of Latin and Soul and some pop stars like Rod Stewart singing the classics. Also ‘zumba’ music for my exercise walks.

Which 4 shows are you currently hooked on?

Only 4? Love most food challenges on FoodTV and Bravo; The Good Wife, Parenthood, Grey’s…(Modern Family, Brothers + Sisters if I could squeeze 2 more in.)

If your job made you move, but you could choose which country you would be living in, which country would you choose and why?

It would probably be Italy or Spain (or some Spanish-speaking country) because of my ancestral heritage and cultural leanings.

If you could go to Atlantic City with any celebrity alive today, who would it be?

Andy Garcia…hellooo, he’s Latin, good looking and played a casino boss in the Ocean’s Eleven movies.

I told you, didn’t I? She’s super chévere! She gave me a choice of posts to pick from and I had a tough time picking just one, but I thought I would allow your first experience with her be similar to the one I had. So, a travel/food log post it is. This one about her visit to Puerto Rico.

http://foodalogue.com/2010/03/i-ate-•-puerto-rico-guavate-la-ruta-de-los-lechones.html

I was so excited to see her announcement for the 2011 Culinary Tour, there will be a stop in Panama… I wonder if you can find anyone from there…jiji. These are always fun and interesting, I hope you will participate and/or follow the journey. In the meantime, go check out Joan’s baby, Foodalogue, you’ll be happy you did.

Take me to Margaritaville

No, I’m not a Jimmy Buffet fan, come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the whole song. I just thought this would be a catchy title. It was all about drawing you into my bloggy web.

Living in Houston means, among other things, that you live in Tex-Mex country. It also means sweltering heat 9 months out of the year. Luckily, those 2 little facts make a Margarita a necessity. Simple as that. Margaritas are how we quench our thirst and cool down from the heat in Houston.

You know I like my cocktails, so I’ve dubbed myself something of a Margarita connoisseur. I’ve had good ritas and awful ones. Sometimes they taste great, but don’t have a punch, while others are all punch with absolutely no flavor. Personally, I like mine to be tart and sweet and punchy. Frozen with salt. That’s what I’m talking about.

Some places, most of them, really, will offer the top shelf margaritas. I say go for the house Margarita first, if that’s not good, don’t waste your time or money on the rest. Top shelf ingredients are supposed to make a basic better, but if the basic recipe sucks…, you catch my drift.

Here I’m sharing my ‘recipe’ for basic Margaritas. No fancy ingredients, but this is a very good ‘rita. So if you feel you must use top-shelf liquors instead of some Sauza Gold and Triple Sec, you can do so without any reservations, but don’t skimp on the fresh fruit juices.

Margarita YAY YAY!

Orange juice, 1/2 oz
Lime juice, 1 1/2 oz
Lemon juice, 1/2 oz
Tequila (I use Sauza Gold), 2 oz
Triple Sec, 1 oz
Sugar, to taste (2 tbsps)
Ice
Coarse salt for the rim

This is how it goes, for 2 large glasses: Mix the juices and liquors with sugar, until it dissolves. Put it into the blender with ice and crush.

Rim the glass with a lime wedge, then dip it into the salt. Pour the frozen goodness into the glass, drop a straw in it, and guzzle it down. How could you resist? See that straw beckoning for you?

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

Spareribs with Tamarind Glaze

I love tamarind. In Panama we make a drink with it, this isn’t exclusive to my little country, of course. We also process the pulp, mix it with brown sugar and  make it into balls that are then dipped in sugar and sold. It is an incredibly good snack, just thinking about it is making my mouth water.

Speaking of tamarind balls…, when I had just moved to Houston, I had probably been there for a little over a year, I was yearning for Panamanian treats. I used to go to a little store called La Michoacana, it was (is) a primarily Mexican store, but it was the only place I could find ‘some’ of the products and produce I needed for home-cooking.

On one of my visits to the store, I noticed they were selling tamarind balls. Oh Joy!!! I was so excited. A little piece of home…, or so I thought. I got back in my car, heading home after picking up all the essentials, unwrapped the little ball and took a nice, healthy bite of it. . . I almost threw up! They like the tamarind balls in Mexico too, but like many of their treats, they add chili peppers to it. Totally ruining that fix for me, just be happy you weren’t in the car with me that day. I sounded like a sailor.

In any case, I’ve had some tamarind pulp sitting in the pantry for a few weeks now, planning to get to it. The wait is over. I decided to cook with it, instead of limiting it to sweeter applications. These pork spareribs turned out finger-licking OHMYGAWD good! I recommend you plan ahead for these so you can marinate the ribs as I did.

Day Before Prep:

Dilute the tamarind paste in water. I used about 1/2 cp of the pulp and diluted it in about 3 cps of hot water. Let it sit there for a bit to help the pulp separate from the seeds. Once the water has cooled, strain it and use a spoon to help remove more of the pulp from the seeds. Discard the seeds and reserve the concentrated juice.

For the marinade:

In a bowl or large ziploc bag combine
1 cp tamarind concentrate
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp habanero paste (or habanero hot sauce)
2 tsp curry powder
1 tbsp honey
3 tbsp fresh ginger, slivered
2 tsp garlic paste (crushed garlic)

Mix all these ingredients well, then add the pork spareribs. For the recipe I used about 3 lbs. of bone-in pork spareribs. Make sure all the ribs are coated and refrigerate at least 12 hours, preferably overnight. Turn the ribs a couple of times to make sure they all soak up the marinade.

Day of – Cooking:

Preheat oven to 325°. Line a baking sheet with foil paper and lay out the ribs in a single layer. Make sure to remove any chunks of ginger you see. Cover with foil and bake the ribs for 1-1/2 hours.

In the meantime, prepare the glaze. Once the ribs have cooked for the first 90 minutes, remove from the oven and drain and reserve the liquid. Return them to the oven uncovered.

Tamarind Glaze
2 cps tamarind concentrate (whatever is left, plus some water)
1 tbsp fresh ginger, crushed
1/3 cp brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, crushed (garlic paste)
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 cp green onions, diced (greens & whites)
1-1/2 tsp habanero paste or hot sauce
Cooking juices from the ribs
Sea salt & black pepper, to taste

Heat a medium saucepan, add a bit of oil to coat the bottom, then add all the white pieces of the green onions and half of the greens. Allow to cook for 1 or 2 minutes, just long enough to soften, then add the rest of the ingredients, except for the salt.

Stir well and adjust the seasoning with salt, if necessary. Allow it to simmer over medium low heat, stirring every so often until it begins to thicken. Once the glaze thickens to the consistency of heavy cream, add the rest of the green onions and remove it from the heat. Set aside.

After the ribs have cooked through and begin to get tender (about 90 minutes), raise the oven’s temperature to 450° and generously brush the ribs with the glaze on one side. Return them to the oven and continue to cook for about 20 minutes. Flip the ribs, glaze the other side and return to the oven for another 20 minutes. Finally remove them from the oven, flip and glaze them once more, but just let them sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

I sprinkled a bit more of finely chopped green onions just before serving and accompanied them with some Bacon Potatoes.  They were tangy, sweet and sticky good!

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

Boston Cream Puffs

I admit it. I’ve been cheating on you. My attention to you has not been undivided and, every now and then, I’ve been throwing fluff your way. I’m sorry about that, but I promise to do better.

I’ve been thinking about the direction I’d like to take you in the new year. Calm down, calm down, I don’t know what that direction is YET. I will let you know. Soon. In the meantime, have a puff, won’t ya?

I had been thinking about trying my hand at making Boston Cream Pie. When I read the ingredients I thought, there’s no reason I can’t apply this to cream puffs! So I did. Don’t be afraid of the puffs, be one with the puffs. They ARE easy to make, they REALLY are. You just need to get them in the oven pretty fast and no opening the oven while they bake. mmmkay?

These are your basic cream puffs or eclairs made better by a creme patisserie (pastry cream) filling and  the addition of Nutella.  You should make and cool the cream first. The hubby and I have been going through them, our spare tires are proof of it. Hope you like ’em too.

Boston Cream Puffs
Yields 12 medium puffs

Ingredients
1 cup water
1/2 cp butter (1 stick)
Pinch of salt
1 cup flour
4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 400. In a saucepan mix the butter and salt with the water, bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat. Quickly add all of the flour and mix it in with a wooden spoon until it forms a ball.

Here’s a little trick I picked up from my mom’s pastry cook: transfer the dough to your mixer’s bowl. Now add the eggs one at a time and beat, making sure each egg is completely mixed in before you add the next. You can also do this in the saucepan, but there’s a greater chance the eggs may cook in the process.

Prepare your baking sheet by covering it with parchment paper. I used a pastry bag to pipe them on to the sheet; I piped about 1/3 of a cup for each puff. You can also do this with a spoon, same results. Make sure you drop them about 1 inch apart from each other. Try to do this part as quickly as possible.

Once you’ve got them all on the baking sheet, put them in the oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes. I baked this batch for about 30 minutes, the size of them will determine how long to leave them in.

 

 

Creme Patisserie
2 cps milk
1/2 vanilla bean
3 egg yolks
1/3 cp sugar
1/3 cp flour
1 tbsp bourbon or other liquor
1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions:
In a medium saucepan, heat the milk with the vanilla bean; you don’t want it to boil, but you will see small bubbles around the edges.

Using your mixer, whip the egg yolks with the sugar until it stretches like ribbon when you raise it with the spoon, then add the flour. Bring the mixer’s speed to low and slowly pour the boiling milk into the mixture, being careful not to drop the vanilla pod.

Once you have incorporated all of the milk, put the mixture back into the pot you used to heat the milk and cook over medium high heat, stirring continuously. This process will take about 20-30 minutes, once it thickens, remove it from the heat. Set aside to cool.

Now, put it all together.
After the puffs have cooled, use a small serrated knife and slit the tops. You can remove them completely if you’re going to use a spoon to fill them, or just partially if you will use a pastry bag.

First, pipe/drop some Nutella, about 2 tsps at the bottom of each puff, then fill with the cream. Replace the tops, sprinkle with powder sugar or a dollop of Nutella. Keep cool and serve.

That’s it!
Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

Autumn in a puff

It’s possible I’m addicted to contests now. I know, I went for years without entertaining the thought of participating in one, to signing up for 2 recipe contests and 3 just throw in your name ones in a 2 week period. Yikes! This might be serious.

In any case, I submitted this entry to Pepperidge Farms. I *literally* threw these ingredients together just so I would have something to submit. That aside, these turned out AWESOME! I wasn’t completely sure of the gorgonzola, I thought I might need something more pungent, but it worked beautifully. There’s something about the sweetness of the potato, combined with depth of the cheese and the meatiness of the sausage that just works.

 

2 sheets puff pastry
2 cups sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
1/2 lb sage breakfast sausage
1/3 cup Gorgonzola cheese crumbles
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 egg yolk, beaten
1/4 cp heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove pastry sheets from freezer or fridge and allow to thaw.

Cook the breakfast sausage as directed, making sure it is a fine crumble. Allow it to cool. In the same pan, add the mashed sweet potatoes and cheese, taste your seasonings and adjust as necessary. Now add the yolk and stir it into the mash. Set aside.

I used a 2-inch biscuit cutter, but a smaller one will yield more of these puffs. Lay out the pastry sheets and cut out using the cutter. Moisten the edges of each circle with a bit of water, then drop about 1 tablespoon of filling onto the center of half of the circles.

Now top the filled circles with one of the other halves. Press the edges together and flutter them out or crimp them with a fork.

Place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Keep them about an inch apart. Now brush the tops with the heavy cream. Using a fork or paring knife, pierce the tops of each puff, this will allow the steam to come out and will keep the puffs intact, otherwise they will burst. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Note: If you don’t have a cutter, simply use a knife and follow the folds on the sheets. You will end up with 9 squares per sheet.