It's that time again, Weekend Herb Blogging, devised by the ever busy Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen. This week The Inadvertent Gardener is guest hosting WHB, so if you want to see different herby recipes, go over to her site. My dish this week is fideos, a wonderful recipe from my favorite chef, Deborah Madison. Fideos is somewhat like risotto in preparation. You add stock to pasta and cook until the pasta absorbs all the liquid. However, you don't need to constantly stir this like you would with risotto, and it cooks much faster. But, like risotto, the pasta is infused with the liquid it cooks in, giving it a luscious, almost creamy taste. This recipe uses a stock that I "created" one day, following Deborah Madison's suggestions in her cookbook, Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone. I used caramelized onions, which gave a sweet, rich taste to the stock. I love caramelized onions and add them to stews and soups whenever I have a batch stashed in the freezer. This dish has three herbs, bay leaf, thyme, and my favorite herb, cilantro. All of them are essential for the taste, but I think todays leading player should be bay leaf.
Here in Davis, bay laurel trees are a common sight. The campus has many of these beautiful trees, which provide excellent shade. However, when I cook with bay leaves, I use Penzeys sweet bay leaves, laurus nobilis, which come from Turkey. A different variety than the laurel bay here, they have a much better taste and lend an subtle flavor to any cooked dish. Have you ever run out of bay leaves and made a dish without them? I have and it's always noticeable when they're absent.
I used one lone bay leaf in my stock for the fideos, but it makes a huge difference in the taste. The stock also contains fresh thyme, garlic, anchos chilis, and the caramelized onions This cooks for about 20 minutes and is then pureed and strained.
This is one of the comfort foods that I often crave. It's delicious and easy to make. For another yummy version fideos, and a Deborah Madison recipe as well, go to A Mingling Of Tastes.
Fideos, Mexican Dry Soup (Adapted from Deborah Madison, Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone)
Make stock or use a commercial vegetable stock. This is my stock that I used:
5 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock if you wish)
1 cup caramelized onions
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 ancho chilies, stem and seed removed
Heat oil in heavy saucepan. Add garlic and saute until softened. Add stock, herbs, onion and the ancho chilies and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Puree in a blender or food processor. Strain liquid through a mesh strainer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
4 to 5 cups vegetable stock
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
8 ounces cappellini, spaghetti, or thin egg noodles, broken into 2 to 4 inch lengths
salt and freshly milled black pepper
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 to 2/3 cup grated Monterey jack cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup chopped parsley or cilantro
Add the oil to a wide skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the noodles and cook, stirring and lifting constantly until the noodles are browned--about 3 to 6 minutes. Remove to paper towels.
Add 3 1/2 cups of the stock to the skillet and bring to a boil. Add the noodles and and simmer until most of the liquid has absorbed, and the noodles are no longer crunchy and cooked through, about 10 minutes. If they are still crunchy or the liquid boils away before they are cooked, begin adding more of the stock. Preheat broiler.
Season noodles with salt and pepper and sprinkle cheese on top. Broil until the cheese has melted. Stir sour cream and drizzle over the top and scatter cilantro or parsley and serve.