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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A paella wannabe

This is another winning recipe from my old Panamanian cookbook, El Arte de Cocinar,¬†by Berta¬†de Pelaez. Berta¬†must be Martha Stewart’s sister from another mother. I don’t remember if I saw Julia on TV when I was growing up, I do know Berta’s show was a daily event for my mom and I. She inspired my mom to expand her cooking and fueled her entertaining dreams.

I don’t believe I ever had this dish while I lived in Panama, but I’m definitely gonna make up for that with gusto! This turned out to be an easy, quick and delicious recipe, almost a quick take on a paella, really. I must admit, I made this a few months ago and didn’t share, it got lost amongst files and trips and lazy days. Now, I don’t want you to think it lacks luster, it really is a dish you should make. Soon.

I’m not sure about the name of the recipe, don’t really know what makes it ‘provincial style’, but it’s not my recipe. Also, the original called for fish pieces and salchichas–these would be wieners, instead, I opted for shrimp and soft Spanish chorizo. Enough of that, here’s the food.

Arroz a la Provinciana (Provincial style rice)

1 cp pork shoulder, cubed
1 cp Spanish chorizo, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 tsp cumin
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Salt & pepper
1 can stewed tomatoes, diced
1 cp white wine
1/4 lb squid, cleaned & sliced to rounds
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled & deveined
1/4 cp olive oil, approx
3 cps rice

Season the pork with the cumin, salt, pepper and garlic. Add a bit of oil to a medium saucepan, heat it over medium high and add the chorizo. Once the fat begins to render, add the pork cubes and brown for a few minutes. Remove from the pan, leaving the oil behind, then add the onions and bell pepper. Continue to cook until the onions are translucent, then remove from the oil and combine with the shrimp and squid.

Return the pork and chorizo to the pan over high heat, add the wine and allow it to burn off the alcohol before adding the tomatoes. Add about 1 cp of water and coo until the pork is tender. Remove pork mixture from the  pan and reserve any liquid. Add a bit more oil and heat over high temperature.

Rinse and drain the rice and add to the heated pan, stirring to coat all the grains with the oil and until the grains look white and not translucent. Stir in the pork and chorizo. Measure any liquid that you reserved and add enough water to measure 5 cps of liquid. Add to the rice, check and adjust the seasoning as needed. Do not stir once it begins to boil!!!!

Allow the rice to cook without disturbing it, until the liquid evaporates. When it is almost dry and you can see the top of the rice, delicately add the shrimp, squid and onion mixture, spreading it evenly across the top DO NOT STIR INTO THE RICE.

Lower the temperature to low and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Allow the rice to steam for about 15 minutes. At that time, you can feel free to stir with wild abandon, but be careful not butcher the cooked seafood. Now get a fork and start eating!

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

Cinco de Mayo? Pork in Green Sauce

The Hubbz hates the use of the word ‘juxtapose’, he says it has become all trendy and overused. I laugh every time I hear the word and look at the disgust on his face as he rolls his little blue eyes. That said, this dish is a perfect juxtaposition of flavors. Creamy, tart, spicy, hot, and a cooling sweetness. Perfect! Just pair it with a Margarita and you have the makings of an excellent 5 de mayo celebration.

Puerco en Salsa Verde (pork in green sauce) is a very popular Mexican dish that marries chiles and tomatillos with pork meat, usually the shoulder. You’ll find a few variations, with or without corn and at various degrees of heat = picante. One element that is always present, is that zingy tang of the tomatillos.

To contrast, or juxtapose, the tang, I added a radish and red pepper raita–of sorts. Raita¬†is an Indian or Pakistani sauce or condiment, usually prepared with yogurt, cucumbers and various herbs. My version, with a Latin flavor, used crema¬†fresca instead of the yogurt and some colorful Easter radishes and red peppers. This made for a deliciously fresh, cool and ever so slightly sweet topping for the tomatillo and chile sauce. It is juxtaposition perfection and tastes GOOD!

Pork in Green Sauce with Radish and Crema Fresca Raita

For the pork:
1 lb pork shoulder or butt, cubed
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, whole
6-8 tomatillos
1-2 serrano peppers (to taste)
1 tbsp cumin, ground
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 cp onion, chopped
2 cps fresh corn, shucked
1/2 cp cilantro, chopped

I like roasting tomatillos, this intensifies their flavors and brings out more rounded aspects of the fruit. Spread them on a baking sheet with the onion slices, serranos and garlic cloves, and broil them for 15 to 20 minutes, turning them as they brown.

Once browned, dump the whole thing (there will be plenty of juices from the tomatillos) into a blender vessel and puree with the cumin, oregano, salt & pepper. Set aside.

In the meantime, season the pork with salt & pepper; in a medium-sized pan, heat the oil and then brown the pork pieces. Remove the excess fat from the pan, leaving enough to saute the extra cup of onions. Once the onions become translucent, add the pork, followed by the pureed tomatillo & pepper sauce.

If necessary, add enough water to ensure there’s enough liquid to cover the pork. Once it comes to a boil, bring the temperature to low, just so it is slowly simmering. Put a lid over it and allow it to simmer for about an hour or until the pork is tender.

Once the pork is fork tender, add the corn and cilantro, check the seasoning and adjust as necessary. Allow it to cook for another 5 minutes or so, just long enough for the corn to soften. To serve, top with some radish raita and enjoy!

For the Radish and Red Pepper Raita

1 cp radishes, julienned
1/4 cp red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cp crema fresca (creme fraiche)
Salt & pepper to taste
2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped

Combine all the ingredients and keep cool until ready to serve.

Where’s my Margarita?!!

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

If by sea.

My seafood obsession¬†is well documented. If you were to do a search on this here blog, you will probably find that fish and/or seafood appear¬†more often than anything else. The Hubbz says I have the ocean(s) running through my veins and¬†I suppose he’s partly right. After all, I grew up with quick and easy access to the Atlantic and the Pacific and to all the goodness harnessed within their waters.

Yesterday I made my required stop by the Asian market, the one place in Houston where I know I will find seafood-a-plenty, all on display, glistening and fresh. I had to stop myself from buying everything I saw and craved, reminding myself of my limited freezer. I can almost imagine that is how those midnight shoppers feel when they go into the stores on Black Friday. Frantically going through the options and picking up marked down items to fill their carts.

This time, I’m going back to¬†one of my all-time-standbys: Al¬†Ajillo¬†(garlic sauce), with yet, another twist. The addition of cream to end up with a silky, creamy sauce. I also used cod fillets, instead of my usual snapper or red fish or shrimp. It was so good and super easy and¬†it came together in a snap. This will work with almost any fish, I even think it would be great to sub the fish with chicken or pork cutlets.

Cod in Creamy Garlic Sauce

1 lb cod fillets, seasoned with a sprinkling of salt and pepper
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cp onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/4 cp parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cp sherry or white wine
1/4 cp heavy cream

You will need to use a saute pan with a lid. On medium-high, heat the olive oil and butter until melted, then add the onions. Cook onions until translucent before adding the garlic, bay leaf and parsley, cook for 2 or 3 more minutes.

 

Bring the temperature to high and add the sherry, stirring constantly and allowing  the alcohol to cook down. Add the fillets, giving them a turn to make sure both sides enjoy the sauciness.

Allow them to cook for about 2 minutes per side (this may vary depending on thickness). Add the cream and swirl the pan around to distribute the cream evenly. Turn off the heat and cover with the lid, allow the steam and heat contained in the pan to continue cooking the fish.

Serve it over white rice or with steamed veggies.


Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

Market Day

I love that Houston has been promoting local farmers more and more these days. I love getting up Saturday morning and driving out to see what goodies are available that week.

The other really neat benefit, is to be able to speak with the farmers themselves and see the pride in their eyes as they offer you their crops and are always happy to answer questions about what to do with the produce and how to do it best.

It also gives me an opportunity to see products I’ve never heard of before and it encourages me to expand my foodie repertoire. For instance, I’ve never seen yellow oyster mushrooms before, have you?

What about black radish?

I’ll share my impressions as I use these finds. I already went through the artichokes, rainbow carrots, yellow oyster mushrooms, dill, lemon balm¬†and fresh flounder. I should’ve documented the flounder & oyster mushroom beauty, but I didn’t. My bad.

My hubby filleted the flounder, I dusted them with a bit of flour (we kept the skin on) before giving them a quick pan-fry. I topped them with the oyster mushrooms, which I sautéed in EVOO, garlic then deglazed with a bit of sherry, added a bit of cream because The Hubbz loves to have a sauce. Just before serving I added a bit of the lemon balm and we proceeded to devour the whole thing. It was very quiet in the room.

We also had some roasted artichokes. After trimming the leaves and cutting them in half, I drizzled a ‘marinade’ of olive oil, balsamic vinegar syrup, garlic, lemon balm, salt & pepper. Popped them in the oven for about 15 minutes before serving.

While the artichokes roasted, I turned my attention to the multicolored baby carrots. I trimmed the stems, then added some butter, chopped garlic and about 1 tsp of habanero hot sauce to a pan and cooked the garlic for about 1 minute.

Then added the trimmed carrots and sautéed them a bit before adding about 1/2 cp of sherry to the pan. Lowered the temperature to medium low and added 1 tbsp of coconut sugar (brown sugar will work just as well), put a lid on and allowed it to steam for about 10-12 minutes.

It was the perfect balance of spicy and sweet. Aaahh, Spring. Even if it really feels like Summer already. Food is good.

For more Farmers’ Market shots, follow this link.

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

Honey, I’m home!!!

Do you ever want to do so much you end up doing nothing at all? Constantly adding items to a mental to-do list that never comes to fruition? Meaning to share some wonderful experience, but never actually picking up the phone or sit before the keyboard? I hope I’m not alone in this crazy little world, but that’s where or what’s been going on with me. Work is crazy busy, they’re REALLY making me work for my money. Add to that new business responsibilities and last minute travel and you end up with a MIA blogger.

I’ve missed my times with you guys, I hope you’ve missed my updates too. Even The Hubbz finally said to me ‘Blog, baby, blog!’ Honey, this one’s for you.

I went to Portland for a bit over a week to attend a conference and I had so much good food and beer. I’ve been dying¬†to tell you all about it, but I also wanted to share the pictures I shot of the scenery¬†so I haven’t. Why you ask? Because I have about 600 shots to review¬†and select the good ones before I can share them with you. That means that I haven’t finish picking, but then I haven’t posted anything else because I keep wanting to share the pictures! Do you see how this crazy cycle has been spinning? So, I decided to go back to what I promised you from day one. Food. I will talk to you about a few dishes I’ve put together in the past few weeks, a few dishes that will rock your world really hard. Promise.

Fish. I don’t know what to call this one, but I’ll tell you how it came about. Have you heard of fish a la Veracruzana? Usually snapper. It is a Mexican recipe, hailing from the province of Veracruz. It is fish cooked in a tangy and flavorful sauce that features tomato, herbs, olives, capers and¬† spices.¬†I had some fillets in the freezer and started out thinking I would prepare them that way.

As the day progressed, I kept thinking about how to Caribbeanize¬†the recipe. A bit of curry came to mind, a bit of serranos¬†for spice. What the heck, let’s make it creamy and add a bit of coconut milk. Yep. That’s what I did, and let me tell you, The Hubbz and I ate more than we needed to AND fought over the leftovers… I won. I’m such a lucky girl! Wanna know the details? Yes you do!

Pescado¬†a la Caribe√Īa (Caribbean Fish)

1 lb fish fillets
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 serrano pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tomato, chopped
1/3 cp sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cp sherry or white wine
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp anise seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cp coconut milk
Water
Fajita seasoning
Salt & pepper to taste

Season the fillets with a sprinkling of fajita seasoning, if not available, salt & pepper works just fine; set aside. In a large saucepan, heat up the oil and add the onions and bell pepper, cooking them until softened. Once the onions are translucent, add the serrano, garlic and continue to cook for a minute or so, just make sure the garlic doesn’t burn.

Lower the temperature to about medium and add the sundried and fresh tomatoes, curry, anise and cinnamon. Use the sherry to deglaze the pan and remove any bits that may have gotten stuck to the bottom of the pan. Allow the sherry/wine to evaporate before adding the coconut milk and water. Season as necessary.

This sauce will cook down for about 20-30 minutes to allow all the flavors to meld together, so you want enough liquid in the pan to allow the fillets to cook. I would say that by the time it cooks down you’ll want to have about 1/2-inch of liquid. I added about 1 cp of water in addition to the coconut milk.

Once this sauce cooks down, simply drop in the fillets, making sure to pour some of the sauce over each one. Cover the pan with a lid and cook the fish for about 5 minutes or until the fillets flake nicely. Serve over rice and wait until you have that first bite, YOU.WILL.NOT.BELIEVE.THE.AWESOME.

Did I mention I got a new camera? I’m still learning it, but here are a few more shots.

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

Saril, not just for drinking anymore

I love learning new things, especially new cooking things. Be it techniques, flavors, ingredients, I love it.¬†The world is¬†so full of delicious and unique goodies, we would need to live several lifetimes in order to¬†appreciate them all. There is a flower/plant that is very popular in Panama, the Caribbean and Mexico. In Panama and the Caribbean it is known as Saril¬†or Red Sorrel. In Mexico, they call it Flor de Jamaica (Jamaican flower) and they use it for their aguas¬†frescas–essentially, flavored (infused) waters.

These next 3 shots were taken by Peter, Mr. P. de Panama. A US expat living in my little country, who kindly allowed me to use his shots in exchange for the link to the recipe featuring them. I think I got the best end of that deal. Definitely take some time to visit his Flickrstream, he has some awesome photos here.

by Mr. P. de Panama

Saril bush, flower and ...the thing you make the juice with

by Mr. P. de Panama

Similarly, I’ve been drinking Ponche¬†de Saril¬†(Saril¬†punch) since I was a little kid; my mom and aunts would sit around for hours piting¬†the flowers, then they would steep them with lots of ginger. To serve it, sugar and sometimes lime juice was added and then the drink is poured over lots of ice. It is one of the most beautiful and refreshing things you’ll ever drink, an awesome combination of tartness and zing. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

the pits!

That was the only use I was aware of for this flower, a relative of the common hibiscus plant. Recently, I read a post by one of my fave foodies, Lesley over at The Mija Chronicles. She used the reconstituted flowers to make quesadillas, then I discovered she has a fascination with the little flower and has prepared and¬†eaten many dishes incorporating it. To say I was intrigued does not cover it. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. The possibilities seemed endless once I realized the genius of exploiting the flavors of the miracle flower. What to do…?

As you can see, the flower is a bright purplish red, the color intensifies when dried. The liquid, broth, tea, water, whatever we should call it, is a beautiful ruby red, a bit more intense than the color of cranberry juice. I wanted to make sure that the dish I created continued to pay homage to the vibrancy of¬†the flower’s color. Saril’s¬†flavor profile could be compared to that of fresh cranberries, I guess. Except, not as tart, giving way to a slight sweetness along the way. Again, I needed to preserve¬†those flavors in the final product: chicken would open itself up to the flavors. A bit of heat and we would be golden. Want to see?

Chicken in Saril and Ancho Sauce

For the chicken
1 whole chicken, cleaned
2 carrots, halved
1/2 cilantro bunch
4 cloves garlic, whole
1 tbsp Herbs d’Provence
1 tbsp sea salt
Water

Remove the innards from the bird’s cavity and rinse the chicken under cold tap water. Place all the ingredients, except for the chicken and water in a stockpot, rest the chicken over them, then fill the pot with enough water to completely cover and submerge the chicken. Place on the stove on high heat until it comes to a boil. Once it boils, lower the temperature just enough to keep it at a slow boil (about medium-high flame) and allow it to cook for another 20 minutes.

At the end of the 20 minutes, turn off the heat and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Let it steam for another 30-45 minutes. Remove the chicken to cool and reserve the broth. This will result in the most beautiful, flavorful, moist chicken meat ever and the broth is amazing. Once the chicken has cooled, break the chicken into pieces and remove the meat from the bones into bite-size pieces. Set aside.

For the sauce
2 cps reserved broth
2 ancho chilies, whole
2/3 cp dried saril
2 tbsp raspadura or dark brown sugar
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cp cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp flour
1/2 cp heavy cream, approx
Reserved chicken broth
Sea salt & black pepper

Place the raspadura, anchos and saril in a small pan with about 2 cps of the chicken broth, bring it to a slow boil for about 10-15 minutes, just until the chilies have softened. Puree in the blender until smooth.

Heat a pan large enough to hold all of the¬†chicken meat and add the olive oil, onions and garlic, cook until the onions are soft and translucent. At this point add the cilantro then¬†the flour and stir constantly¬†over medium heat, don’t let the flour burn, this will help thicken the sauce later. Add the saril¬†puree and enough broth to make the sauce runny, about the consistency of¬† half & half.

Once the sauce thickens a bit, to about the consistency of heavy cream, stir in the cream then add the chicken and lower the temperature to a slow simmer. Allow it to cook for 20-30 minutes, long enough for all the flavors to come together.  Serve over white rice, maybe even pasta and be ready to be oh so happy!

To see just a few more pictures of the cooking goodness, go to my Flickr stream, here. Don’t forget to stop by Peter’s page while you’re there. Mil gracias, Pedro!!!

 Cookingly yours,
Anamaris