Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Coronado Concerts in the Park - Oodles of Noodles

Cellophane, vermicelli, bow tie, fettuccine, lasagnette, lasagna, egg, Shirataki, and Chow Mein...we transformed oodles of noodles into savory and sweet dishes for Sunday's Concert in the Park Challenge Noodles.

Carmen arrived with a huge salad bowl, and various containers filled with the prepped ingredients for her Thai Chicken and Glass Noodle Salad with Spicy Dressing. Max, Olivia and Sonoma were eager to help toss the marinated chicken, glass noodles, jicama, carrot, green papaya, mango, cucumber, bean sprouts, cilantro, spicy dressing, and peanuts. Carmen consulted several recipes, but said she relied on this Food Network recipe more than others.

My Sopa Seca de Fideos was another first for me. A friend and I were talking about some of the San Diego restaurant winners of the Silver Fork Awards, when I mentioned we had tried to find El Camino in her neighborhood. Turns out that location recently closed so the owners could concentrate on the larger, Little Italy location. Rachel said El Camino's Sopa de Fideos was her favorite. When she described it as a tomato-based noodle soup, I started researching recipes for our noodle fest. Quite frankly, most of the recipes sounded pretty bland, until I came across Rick Bayless's version with toasted vermicelli "nests," roasted tomatoes, chorizo, chipotle chiles in adobo, and queso anejo. Sopa Seca means "dry soup." The end result is not soupy at all, and the flavors are bold, spicy and wonderful. I made a test batch for our Friday night patio crowd, and it was thumbs up for another round on Sunday. The recipe is at the end of this post.

Alec's Fresh Lasagna with a Touch of Porcini, is from La Cucina Italiana. It's not a layered lasagna, but more like wide noodles (lasagnette) tossed with an amazing, deep, rich mushroom sauce.

Kai's Bow Tie alla Caprese was adapted from Giada De Laurentiis' Fusilli alla Caprese. He used bow tie pasta and added olives.

Sandra's Creamy Baked Fettuccine with Asiago and Thyme is also from Giada De Laurentiis. Fettuccine pasta is gently tossed with Asiago cheese, creme fraiche, Parmesan, and thyme, poured into a baking dish, sprinkled with a little more cheese, and baked until golden.

Kellee, and her gorgeous daughter, Morgan, made this lovely Pasta Salad with Shrimp and Snow Peas.

Nina's Agliolio Chocolate Lasagna, made with fresh, homemade chocolate noodles, chocolate mascarpone mousse, chocolate ganache, and white chocolate curls, took top honors in the dessert category. She was inspired by this recipe, but "prepared the whole thing day of, cut the cream in the mascarpone so it would be denser, and added a little coffee extract to the filling." We were wowed by her first attempt at homemade pasta! Chocolate lovers - this one's for you!

Carmen's Killer Kugel, from The New York Times, was the best Kugel I've ever tasted, with its bread pudding-like sweetness and texture, and heavenly walnut and cinnamon crumb topping. She added home-dehydrated grapes, which were pleasantly plump and sweet. We all agreed a touch of Cognac would make this even more decadent.

It's always such a great surprise when Mary and Geoff come down from Del Mar to join us. Mary shared two platters of cookies - Kristy's Ancient Chinese Noodle Cookies and Chinese Noodle Cookies.

Music for the evening was provided by the U.S. Navy Band Southwest - Wind Ensemble


Sopa Seca de Fideos
via Food Network
4 main servings, or 8 first course servings


2-3 canned chipotle chiles in adobo
1 tablespoon roasted garlic paste (about 4 garlic cloves)
3 pounds Roma tomatoes (about 15 to 17)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
6 ounces chorizo sausage, casing removed
1 (10-ounce) package dried fideo (vermicelli) noodles (try to find the "coiled" vermicelli or "nests")
2-3 cups low-sodium chicken or beef broth
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup finely grated Mexican queso anejo
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, for garnish (optional)


Roast the tomatoes on the grill, or on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler, until blackened on all sides. Cool, then peel, collecting all the juices with the tomatoes.

In a food processor or blender, core and process half of the roasted tomatoes, canned chiles, and garlic to a medium-fine puree. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in medium-size pot (such as a 4-quart Dutch oven) over medium-high heat. Add the puree and stir for about 5 minutes as it sears and thickens. Set aside.

In a separate medium non-stick skillet, cook the chorizo over medium heat, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks, about 10 minutes. Scoop it out with a slotted spoon into a small bowl, draining as much oil as possible back into the skillet. Set bowl of chorizo aside.

Pour about 6 tablespoons of the remaining oil into the skillet and return to medium-high heat. When hot (drop a stray noodle in – it should sizzle but not brown immediately), lay in about 1/3 of the noodle nests to fry until noticeably browned, about 1 minute, then flip and brown the other side. Remove with a slotted spoon, draining as much oil as possible back into the skillet, and drain on paper towels. Continue until all the noodles have been browned.

Add the broth, oregano, and pepper to the tomato sauce. Core the remaining half of the tomatoes and chop into small pieces. Add and simmer briskly, until the sauce thickens to the consistency of a juicy tomato sauce, about 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt.

Add the noodles to the sauce. In about 2 minutes, the noodle nests should be soft enough to pull apart. Pull the nests apart, then add the zucchini and the chorizo. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are tender but still firm, about 2-4 minutes.

Add cream, raise the heat to medium-high and boil quickly until the sauce returns to its previous consistency. Taste again and readjust the salt, if necessary. Stir in half of the grated cheese.

When serving, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and the cilantro garnish (I didn't use cilantro).



Steph said...

Wow, amazing noodle dishes. I'm not sure which one to try first, they all look incredible (plus the photography is as beautiful as ever). Loved this lovely post!!

Carmen said...

Man, after three weeks of raw vegan and workin' out twice a day, I was cravin' noodles- and I'm tellin' ya I got 'em, by golly! It was all I could do not to polish off the Sopa Seca de Fideos before the rest of the gang arrived - And if my husband wasn't right there I would have run off with Nina's chocolate lasagna!!!