Just another day in paradise….sigh You know when you stop and think about it, just about any day we wake up, take a breath and are able to stand up, it’s a good day. We might have aches and pains, it could be 100 degrees outside (without the heat index) or it could be suffering torrential downpours, but the truth of the matter is……it could be a lot worse. So even though I wasn’t standing quite as straight as I may have liked this morning, I did in fact take a deep breath and walked under my own power downstairs to start the flow of coffee into my system.
Lisa and I had a great time in Florida, as rushed as it was. We did get to spend a little time immersed in Disney, visited with some old friends and saw more houses in two days than we can even remember. This was definitely a time when too many choices were not a good thing. We did narrow down the search a bit, but there will surely be a return visit in about a month to make sure we weren’t just delirious. I think I may even have to use the video portion of my 7D (time to bring out the manual).
Enough of my rambling for now, because today is Guest Post Friday!! Woo hoo!! That’s right my favorite day of the week, the day I get to share my blog with a friend and let them show off their culinary creations! Today my friends it’s my great pleasure to introduce Jen from Juanita’s Cocina to those of you that don’t already know her. Jen is still fairly new to the food blogging community but since the arrival of Juanita’s Cocina in January, she has been tempting us with a constant source of delicious and creative dishes, featuring everything from Huevos Rancheros to Blood Orange Panna Cotta. I can also promise you that every time you visit Jen, you’ll get a healthy portion of Texas Hospitality, and that my friends is a very good thing……take it from a native Texan!
So sit back, relax, take off your hat and kick your boots off , and get ready for some down home cookin’ as I give you………
Hi, y’all! I’m Jen from Juanita’s Cocina! I was thrilled when Chef Dennis asked if I would guest post for him here in his kitchen! You’ll hear over and over again how great Chef Dennis is, how friendly he is to his fellow food bloggers, how supportive he is…and I absolutely have to agree. So, when the Chef comes a knockin’ on your door and asks you to step into his kitchen, you jump for joy (a lot) and then you say, “Abso-stinkin’-lutely!”
So, here I am.
I thought long and hard about the perfect dish to share here at Chef Dennis’ place. I wanted something that was not only delicious, but something that spoke about me as a food blogger and home cook.
I thumbed through recipes. I searched the net.
And then I found a recipe for sopa de fideo (a spicy, noodle and tomato-based soup) in my very favorite cookbook, “The Homesick Texan” by, Lisa Fain.
And my heartstrings got a little tighter. And I knew this was the dish to share.
You may wonder why I had such a reaction to a plate of food. I’ll begin by saying that I think food has emotional ties for many of us. Food is bonding, it connects us with past memories, and it comforts us. This dish is no different for me.
When my son was very young and I was a very young mother, we ate sopa de fideos all of the time, sometimes several times a week. I was a single mother, putting myself through college, while trying to raise a child who had multiple health issues and other challenges.
Fideos was an inexpensive dish to make. It filled our bellies but it didn’t break the bank. In leaner times, my son and I had only noodles and tomato broth. When times were better, I’d add meat and veggies to the soup. The one constant ingredient each time I made fideos was love.
I went on to graduate from college and entered my career of choice. I no longer had to make fideos every week for us to share. I promised myself that I’d never be back at a place in my life where all I ate was the same things, over and over, because that was all that I could afford.
Sopa de fideos is often referred to in the Mexican culture as “poor man’s food”. And while I may not agree and I would never say we were “poor”, I would say that we had times where we had to eat what we could afford. I don’t know that I ever promised myself to never eat fideos again, but I never stopped at that section of the grocery aisle. I never put the ingredients in my basket. Whether that was by choice or because of some subconscious decision, I’ll never know.
What I do know is that I’m in a very different place now. And I settled on sopa de fideos for this guest post because it brought me back to a time when things were simpler, and it conjured images that were comforting and satisfying…and delicious.
While this dish may seem simple (it is), it is layered with deep, earthy flavors and spice. Simple doesn’t have to mean bland or unappetizing. Simple can mean satisfyingly comfortable. Simple can be all of the best memories of your life.
I hope you make this dish to share at your family table…not because it’s simple, but because of all it has to offer.
- 3-4 dried chiles (I used 2 guajillos and one ancho)
- 2 tsp. oil, divided
- ½ medium onion, diced finely
- 4 cloves garlic, diced finely
- 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
- 6-8 cups chicken broth (depends on your desired consistency)
- ½ tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- ¼ tsp. ground allspice
- ¼ tsp. cayenne
- 8 oz. fideo pasta (you can substitute angel hair pasta, broken into small pieces)
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- Chopped cilantro for garnish
- In a large skillet or saucepan, toast the chiles on each side for about 10 seconds, or just until they begin to puff. Cover the chiles with enough water to submerge them, bring the water to a boil, and then turn off the heat. Allow the chiles to soften in the water for approximately 30 minutes. Once the chiles have soaked, remove them from the water, remove the stems, and place them in a blender.
- Heat 1 tsp. of oil in a large pot/dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, for approximately 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds.
- Add the cooked onions and garlic to the blender with the chiles. Add the tomatoes, 1 cup of broth, chili powder, cumin, allspice, and cayenne. Puree the mixture until smooth.
- In the same pot you used to saute the onions and garlic, add the other tsp. of oil and heat over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add the fideo and cook for 2 minutes until it becomes a little toasted and brown, ensuring that you stir constantly.
- Add the chile/tomato mixture to the pot with the pasta. Add approximately 5 more cups of broth. Bring the sopa to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium and allow the pasta to simmer for approximately 10 minutes until it is tooth-tender. If the broth thickens or disappears too much for your liking, feel free to add more chicken broth.
- Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Serve fideos in a bowl with cilantro and a lime wedge. You can add a sprinkling of Mexican cheese (such as queso quesadilla or queso fresco) when serving as well.
Making this dish brought back lots of memories for me. Wonderful memories and reflections.
The best part of making this dish? I was able to share new memories with my wife. I was able to serve her a simple yet delicious dish, and I was able to share with her the history behind this dish for me.
What’s that dish for you? What’s the one dish that brings back a flood of memories and comfort?
Thank you, Chef Dennis for allowing me to share this fabulously simple dish with you here in your kitchen! This post has been one of my favorites to do. It truly demonstrates how food leaves us with strong memories and feelings, no matter how simple the dish.
Now that’s some good eatin’, and I loved those images of that delicious Sopa de Fideo! Thanks so much for such a beautifully written guest post Jen and for sharing your memories with us!
Now before Y’all forget head on over to Juanita’s Cocina and say hi to Jen, just don’t forget to tell her Chef Dennis sent you! Make sure to bring a glass of sweet tea with you and sit a spell, you’re going to love what you see!
Have a great weekend my friends!