Antique Regimen [Sopa Seca – Mexican Noodle Casserole]

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I skew towards being a not so regimented person. I like to try new things, and am constantly reinventing myself. But there are some happy routines that will stay with me always, or for  so long as I can hold onto them.

One of the reasons we chose this glass tower as opposed to all of the other ones in Toronto is that the St. Lawrence Market, the very best indoor market in the city, is nearby. We’re talking across the street. A food blogger and chef’s dream, I know. But there’s more.

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I have a dog and pups are wont to roam. Arthur the poodle walks with me on weekend mornings. We go all over — there’s the time on Saturdays and Sundays. That’s how I started going to the St. Lawrence antiques market every Sunday with my fur baby. Scoop him up, check out some dishware, and buy whatever smells best to Arthur (or at least he likes to think so). I feed my obsession for dishware and sometimes we even meet some dog friends under the tables.

What Arthur likes best are his admirers. After all, he does look like a teddy bear brought to life. It’s nice to see people smile, and I certainly enjoy our weekly outing.

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Sopa seca is a Mexican dish that I frequently serve for Sunday brunch. It’s not traditional, but this noodle casserole is real mean served with a sunny side up egg.

Sopa Seca – Mexican Noodle Casserole
*from Saveur

¼ cup canola oil, plus more for greasing
8 oz. fideos or vermicelli noodles, broken into 3″ pieces
4 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
15 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed
½ small white onion, roughly chopped
½ cup chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup crumbled Cotija cheese or mild grated cheese of your choice
¾ cup crema or sour cream
2 tbsp. minced cilantro

Heat oven to 350°. Grease an 8″ x 8″ baking dish with oil; set aside. Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Working in two batches, add pasta and cook, stirring, until lightly browned and toasted, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain; set aside.

In a blender, purée chipotles, garlic, tomatoes, and onion until very smooth, at least 2 minutes. Return skillet to heat, and add tomato purée; cook, stirring constantly, until almost all liquid is evaporated, about 18 minutes. Add stock, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add noodles, stir to combine, and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to baking dish, and cover with foil; bake until pasta is tender and sauce is absorbed, about 10 minutes.

Divide among serving plates, sprinkle with cheese, and drizzle with crema or sour cream; sprinkle with minced cilantro before serving.

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