Sopa de Fideo

May 23, 2019 – I took a break this week from the fictional world of Trent Marshall and Darcey Anderson to spend a little time in the real world. While I was here I discovered a new soup that will hereinafter be a permanent part of my culinary repertoire.

Fideo translates literally from Spanish as “noodle.” It’s similar to vermicelli or thin spaghetti. While fideo can sometimes be found in stores offering ingredients for Mexican dishes, either of the better known pastas is an acceptable substitute.

Sopa de fideo appears in Mexican and TexMex cuisine. It also is served in certain provinces of the Philippines. The Filipino connection lends credence to the theory that the dish originated in Spain. It first showed up in the Philippines in the 17th century when the more than 7,600 islands making up the archipelagic nation was a Spanish colony. It might be one of the earliest examples of fusion in the kitchen.

All of the recipes I looked at included the pasta, broken into small pieces, and browned slightly in olive oil. They all included tomatoes. Meat was not included in most of them. Neither were most of them heavily spiced.

Sopa de Fideo

Well, I’m a carnivore. I wanted meat. I included some chorizo. And I like heat in my food. So to “hot it up a little bit,” as my dad would say, I added some crushed red pepper.

The result was terrific! Absolutely terrific!

Here, then, is my take on sopa de fideo.

Sopa de Fideo

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 pound fideo, vermicelli, or thin spaghetti, broken into small pieces

1 pound chorizo

2 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 cups chicken stock, or more as needed

1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped

1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper

salt to taste

In a stock pot or large, heavy sauce pan, heat a small amount of olive oil over medium heat. Saute the fideo in the hot oil. Watch it carefully. When it begins to take on a little color, add the chorizo.

When the chorizo begins to brown a bit, add all the other ingredients.

Let the soup simmer for about twenty minutes. Add more chicken stock if needed.

Bon temps!

Pork Tenderloin with a Spicy Sauce

April 26, 2019 – I love pork. The tenderloin is one of my favorite cuts. What am I saying? I can’t think of anything pork that I don’t love! Well, trotters don’t really do much for me, but other than that I love pork.

I also enjoy experimenting with sauces. I like to include ingredients that would be unexpected. That would not ordinarily be thought of in the company of the other ingredients. And I like my sauces on the spicy side. Way over on the spicy side. This one will be as spicy as you want to make it.

I had a pork tenderloin. It was .93 pound. The cooking time in my recipe is based on a tenderloin of that size. You can adjust the time accordingly to match the weight of the tenderloin you are preparing.

First, a marinade. I decided to marinate my pork in the refrigerator over night.

The sauce I made was uncooked. It took no more than ten minutes or so to put it together. I also made it the day before. When it came time to prepare the meal, there was very little work to do.

Be careful to avoid overcooking pork. While it’s delicious when properly cooked, it can become dry and tasteless if it’s overdone.

And yes, I know it’s not a good picture. I’m using it anyway because it is such a great dish.

Pork Tenderloin with Sauce

1 pork tenderloin

Marinade: 2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

freshly ground black pepper to taste

Marinate the tenderloin for several hours.

Sauce: 1 tablespoon dry mustard

1 tablespoon vinegar

1/2 cup ketchup

1 1/4 teaspoon horseradish (or to taste)

1/4 teaspoon curry powder

2 tablespoons sour cream

To cook the tenderloin: 1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450.

Add a small amount of olive oil to a heavy skillet. You want a tablespoon or so. No more. Just enough to keep the tenderloin from sticking. Brown the pork over medium heat for about four minutes. Turn it over and brown the other side for about three minutes.

Place the tenderloin in an open, oven proof dish and roast for about fourteen minutes. Let it rest for five to ten minutes after removing it from the oven. Keep in mind that the meat will continue to cook from its own internal heat for a few minutes after it comes out of the oven.

Slice the tenderloin thinly on the diagonal. Drizzle some of the sauce over the meat before serving.

Bon temps!

Roasted Onions

February 22, 2019 – This one is so simple I’m almost embarrassed to write it up. Almost.

I planned on roasting a chicken and was thinking of an accompaniment that wouldn’t require too much effort. Somewhere I read about roasting whole onions in their skin. Sounded like it was worth a try.

I chose fairly large, red onions. Using a fork, I poked holes around each onion so it wouldn’t explode.

I put the onions around the chicken and slid bird and vegetables together into a pre-heated 425 oven. For the size of the chicken, one hour at that temperature was perfect.

When the onions are done, cut them in half. Add a little butter with salt and pepper to taste. I also added a little file’ just because. It added a subtle, exotic flavor. That’s completely optional unless, of course, you’re from Louisiana and believe that file’ can go with anything.

Roasted onions accompanying a roast chicken.

So here’s the recipe, if it can really be called a recipe.

Roasted Onions

1 large onion per person, unpeeled

2 tablespoons butter per onion

salt & pepper to taste

File’ (optional)

Using a fork, poke holes all around the onions so they don’t explode.

Place them around the chicken or whatever meat you’re preparing. Let them roast alongside the meat.

When done, slice the onions in half. Let a tablespoon of butter melt on each half. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

A dusting of file’ is optional.

Bon temps!

Beer Cheese Chicken Soup with Crusty Rosemary Bread

March 30, 2014 – It was raining and cold.  Not the Arctic kind of cold that makes you rummage through the closet for gloves and scarves and stocking caps.  It was that wet, bone-chilling cold that comes with a hard winter rain.

Even though it was officially spring it was still a winter kind of rain.   March got itself a little confused this year.  In like a lamb and out like a lion.

Not that I’m complaining.  I like rainy days.  A roaring fire in the fireplace.  A good book or an old movie.  Maybe a nap with a concerto of falling raindrops lulling you to sleep.  And a steaming bowl of soup with crusty bread for dipping.

On this rainy day I made a Beer Cheese Chicken Soup.  All the better with crusty rosemary bread.

I prefer chicken thighs almost exclusively.  They’re moist and flavorful.  So unlike the ubiquitous boneless, skinless breasts.  This recipe does work best if the chicken is boneless and skinless.  Even so I still like thighs.  The chicken should be cut into bite sized pieces for cooking.  I sautéed the small pieces in a little olive oil until they were beginning to brown.

I also added some broccoli for color and crunch.  I would suggest using raw flowerets,  sautéing them in olive oil as well.  Take care not to overcook them.

Light the fire in the fireplace, find a good movie and enjoy!

Beer Cheese Chicken Soup

1/2 medium onion, chopped                                 2 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup butter                                                       2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

1/4 cup flour                                                         1 cup cooked but still crunchy broccoli

Salt & pepper to taste                                          1 pound chicken, cooked & diced

2 cups milk                                                           1 cup elbow macaroni, cooked

                                                                              1 12 oz bottle of beer

Saute the onion in butter until it is softened.  Add the flour and cook for two or three minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the milk and chicken broth, continuing to stir until it begins to thicken.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add the beer, stirring well.

Add the cheese and continue stirring until it is melted.

Add the chicken and broccoli.  Stir to mix well.

Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

Crusty Rosemary Bread

1 crusty baguette

Softened butter

Fresh rosemary, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350.

Cut the bread into slices about 1/2 inch thick.  Lightly butter each slice and sprinkle each with the chopped rosemary.

Place the slices of bread on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven.  Bake for about ten minutes, watching them closely, until they’re brown and crispy.


Bon temps!

Natchitoches Meat Pies

January 20, 2013 – Is gazillion a word?  Doesn’t matter.  That’s roughly how many Natchitoches meat pies I’ve eaten so far in my life.

The meat pie is probably the most international of foods.  The first recorded mention of a meat pie was in ancient Greece.  It was called an artocreas.  Most every society on Earth has created its own version.  The British have the pastie, which originated in the Cornwall region.  Latin America has the empanada and Poland the pierogi.  The French Canadians have the tourtiere.  In Louisiana it’s the Natchitoches meat pie.

Natchitoches (pronounced nak’ i tosh) is a fascinating place.  It was founded by a French explorer named St. Denis in 1714, four years before New Orleans was settled.  The two main streets of town are still paved with bricks.  Natchitoches started out as a river town laid out on both sides of the Red River.   Many years ago the river decided to take another course but left a piece of itself behind.  That piece is now called Cane River though it’s not a river at all but a long, thin lake occupying what was once the riverbed.

The small central Louisiana town is filled with beautiful old homes, some dating back to the 18th century.  Those beautiful houses are why it was chosen as the setting for the movie “Steel Magnolias.”  Natchitoches is probably the best-known little-known town in the U.S.  If you’ve seen “Steel Magnolias” you’ve seen Natchitoches.

The Natchitoches meat pie first appeared in the 18th century.  There’s little doubt that it’s a version of the Spanish empanada as the Spanish were very active in the area in those days with a fort just a few miles west of the French settlement.

I hadn’t made Natchitoches meat pies in quite a long time when my daughter-in-law Amber called to ask if we could cook up a batch.  My son David loves Natchitoches meat pies.  I had given them my recipe and she wanted to be sure she had them right.  So I get to be executive chef with Amber as sous chef?  Sounded like a good deal to me.

Natchitoches Meat Pies

For the filling:    1 ½ lbs ground beef                           For the dough:  4 C self-rising flour

1 ½ lbs ground pork                                                    2 t salt

1 C green onions, chopped                                        1 egg, beaten

2 t salt (or to taste)                                                     ½ C shortening

1 t course ground black pepper                                  1 C milk

1 t crushed red pepper (optional)

½ t cayenne (optional)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 green pepper, chopped

1/3 C all purpose flour


Peanut oil for deep frying

To make the filling:  Combine meat, vegetables and seasonings.  Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft and the meat is well browned but not dry.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.  Add salt a little at a time as you taste.  My theory is you can always add salt but it’s not as easy to take it out.

Sift the 1/3 cup of flour into the meat and combine well.  The flour will serve as a binder for the filler and will also soak up any excess moisture.  Too much liquid in the meat and the dough will fall apart.

To make the dough:  Sift the dry ingredients together.  Cut the shortening into the flour.  The best way to do that is to use two plain table knives in a cross-cutting motion.  Keep cutting the shortening until it looks like small peas or gravel in the bowl.

Add the beaten egg and milk.  Stir to combine and create a dough.

Form the dough into a ball.  Cover your work space with flour and roll your ball of dough over the flour.  Be sure that the surface of the dough is well floured so that it doesn’t stick to the rolling pin.  Working with small portions of the dough, perhaps a third at a time, roll the dough out until it’s about 1/8 of an inch thick.  It has to be thin enough to be manipulated but thick enough to hold together when the meat filling is added.

Cut the dough into rounds of five to six inches in diameter.  A pot lid of that size will make perfect rounds.  After you’ve cut as many rounds as you can get from the dough you’ve rolled out you’ll have some left over.  Work it back into your ball of dough and roll out another third to make more rounds.  Keep repeating the process until you don’t have enough dough left to make another round.

To assemble:  Place a heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture in the center of a round.  Moisten your finger with a little water and run it gently around the edge of half the round, dampening it very lightly to help the edges stick together.   Not wet.  Just very lightly dampened.  Fold the dough over making the rounded edges meet.  Seal the edges with the tines of a fork.  Lay the assembled meat pies on a plate with waxed papers between layers to keep them from sticking together.

To cook:  Preheat the peanut oil to about 350.   Deep fry the meat pies in the oil until the dough is brown.  Remove the browned pies from the oil with a slotted spoon and place them on a plate covered with paper towels to let them drain.

Serve with a little chili sauce on the side.

Bon temps!

Eggplant Stuffed with Lobster

November 10, 2012 – Eggplant has been associated with Louisiana since it arrived with Italian immigrants in the 19th century.  And yet I don’t remember eating it as a child.  I asked my mother about that recently.  She said she cooked it, usually battered and fried, but I wouldn’t eat it.  It’s not the kind of thing that appeals to a child.  It’s a vegetable.

I have begun experimenting with eggplant in my kitchen and have found that it’s a very versatile vegetable.  It doesn’t have a strong flavor on its own so it lends itself to treatment in various ways.  One night I decided to try it with a seafood stuffing.   In Louisiana it’s usually stuffed with shrimp or crab.  But I wanted something a little different.  I wanted lobster.

Louisiana recipes very often begin by sautéing onion, bell pepper and celery, known as the “trinity.”  In this recipe I use a red bell pepper for color and add a little green onion and garlic.  I also use plain bread crumbs because I’m making a stuffing.  The plain breadcrumbs soak up liquid more efficiently than the Panko crumbs that I prefer for other purposes.

As to marinara sauce, you can make your own if you wish.  I just got a high quality pre-made sauce at the grocery store.  A lot easier that way.

Here’s my recipe.

Eggplant Stuffed with Lobster

1 purple eggplant                                         1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

1 stick of butter                                             2 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

1 medium onion, diced                                1 lobster tail (2/3 -3/4 lb.  If smaller,                                                                          get two)

1 stalk celery, diced                                      1 C chicken stock

½ red bell pepper                                          Seasoning to taste

3 cloves garlic, minced                                  Bread crumbs

3 green onions, sliced                                   2 bay leaves

¼ cup parsley, chopped                                Marinara sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise.  Scoop out the center of each to create a shell.  Chop the eggplant that you’ve scooped out and set it aside.

Remove the lobster meat from the tail.  It’s actually easy to do.  Using a pair of kitchen scissors, cut through the thin membrane on the underside of the lobster tail.  Then cut through the tougher top shell.  Pull the two sides apart and the meat will just pop right out.  Chop it into bite-sized pieces.

Melt the butter in a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium high heat.  Add onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic and green onions.  Saute until the vegetables begin to soften, four or five minutes.  Add the chopped eggplant and continue to cook until it’s tender, about 15 minutes.  Add the parsley, thyme, basil, lobster and chicken stock.  Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer.  Add seasoning to taste.  My current favorite seasoning is Slap Yo’ Mama.  If you have a favorite use it.  Or salt and pepper to taste will work, too.

Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the bread crumbs about ¼ cup at a time. Keep adding bread crumbs until the liquid has been absorbed and you’ve reached a stuffing-like consistency.  Fill the eggplant shells with the stuffing and press a bay leaf into each.

Layer the bottom of an oven proof dish with an inch or so of marinara sauce.  Set the stuffed eggplant shells into the pool of marinara.  Cover the dish and bake for about 45 minutes.  Uncover and cook for another five or ten minutes until the eggplant is lightly browned.

Remove the bay leaves and serve the stuffed eggplant with the marinara sauce.


As we say in Louisiana, Bon Temps!  Good Times!