Cornbread Tuesday, Aug 10 2010 

A few weeks ago, Boyfriend and I went to see Dave Matthews play at Citi Field in New York.  This was a big deal for a lot of reasons:

1 – Boyfriend is a huge Dave fan, and he’s seen him enough times that he can’t remember the actual tally.

2 – Zac Brown Band, who we both love, was the opening act.

3 – Boyfriend hadn’t seen DMB in concert since college.

4 – It coincided with NYC Restaurant Week.

I think you can imagine how excited I was to discover this out this last detail.

Since Boyfriend was already coming home the night before the concert, we planned to spend the entire day in the city – eating, drinking, and sweating in the 100-degree temperatures.  After attempting to read through the exhaustively long list of participating restaurants and their menus, I had an epiphany.  And that epiphany’s name was Bobby Flay.

I’ve never eaten at a celebrity chef’s restaurant, but the topic was on my mind after days of planning our Chicago itinerary and reading up on Rick Bayless’s restaurants.  So to Mesa we went for their pre fixe, Restaurant Week lunch menu.  And can I tell you?  I haven’t been that full after a meal that involved not one bite of meat ever. Ever.  We had delicious smoked shrimp cakes (that I was predictably nervous about, being very afraid of all things deemed “smoky”) dressed in a beautiful pineapple relish that balanced the heat out nicely.  Boyfriend had red snapper that he assured me was fabulous but was, to me, just another fish I wasn’t interested in.  And I had a monstrous chile relleno followed by the best bread pudding I’ve ever tasted, while Boyfriend enjoyed a chocolate strawberry shortcake.

But for Boyfriend, who loves all things spicy and most anything unique, the real gem of the meal was the cornbread.  Made with both yellow and blue cornmeal and studded with kernels of corn and chunks of jalapeno, he took one bite of his first roll, looked across the table at me, and whispered, almost in awe, “when are you making these for me?”  We ate the entire basket of them, in addition to a second basket brought over to replenish the first.  I mentioned we were really full afterward, yes?

Several hours after cleaning our plates at Mesa, we made our way to Citi Field to watch the show.  Halfway through, Dave played the song we were hoping he would – Boyfriend’s favorite song, and the one he was very much looking forward to hearing live for the first time in years.  The song we’d sung loudly in the car on the way to the train that morning, and the song that is the first track on the DMB/Zac Brown Band playlist I made in preparation for the concert.  What song is that, you ask?

Cornbread, of course.

Spicy, Cheesy Cornbread

Adapted from this recipe http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/jalapeno-corn-bread/Detail.aspx

1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

6 tbsp sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1/4 vegetable oil

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

2 – 3 tbsp red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 9-inch square baking pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and red pepper flakes.  Stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk, and oil together.  Slowly pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir to combine.  Add cheese, and stir until it’s well-distributed.

Pour batter into pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cut bread into squares and serve warm.

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Bruschetta Tuesday, Jul 20 2010 

During the oppressive heat of the summer months, most food bloggers take solace in the fact that the stellar produce at this time of year makes up for the sweaty, blistering temperatures.  The peaches, the blueberries, the sweet Jersey corn…farmers markets are brimming with foods that require very little alteration to taste phenomenal.  This isn’t the winter, where the East Coast bemoans its abundance of squash and Brussels sprouts and dreams of the days when strawberries ripen.  Around this time of year, people are thrilled to leave their ovens off and let the fresh produce speak for itself.

Often, it’s the tomato that steals the spotlight.  But here’s a confession – I don’t like tomatoes, at least not raw ones. I don’t like the seedy, pulpy interior, and I don’t like the slick skin that holds it all together.  I don’t like large, fresh slices of the beefsteak variety on hamburgers, and I pick them out of salads, unceremoniously dropping them on Boyfriend’s plate more often than not.  He, of course, adores them – he wishes I liked them more.  And I want to like them, I really do, but if I can’t stomach them at the peak of their apparent deliciousness, I don’t think it’s in the cards for me.

Not to be outdone in the crazy department, though, I’ll eat them peeled and cooked into tomato sauce.  In fact, I love tomato sauce.  And salsa.  But not ketchup.  You know, just in case you thought I was predictable. As if I’d let that happen.

Spurred by this irrational love of saucy, cooked tomatoes mingled with onions and garlic, I decided to do bruschetta for dinner.  Simple, fairly healthy, and so quick to put together, I find this meal endlessly satisfying – the crunchy bread, the acidic bite of the tomatoes, the tangy cheese…what’s not to love?  Unless, of course, you don’t like tomatoes.

Bruschetta

3 tbsp olive oil, divided

4 thick slices of French bread

1 tbsp butter

1/8 cup diced onion

1 clove fresh garlic, minced

1-2 tbsp fresh chopped basil

3 whole, peeled plum tomatoes (Yes, I did get mine from a can.  In the midst of tomato season.  I’m a sad, sad creature.)

Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, to taste

Shredded Parmesan or Pecorino cheese

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and brush both sides of each piece of bread evenly with 2 of the 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Once your oven has reached 350, put the bread on a baking sheet in the middle of the oven and cook for 5 minutes on each side (or until the bread is crunchy and golden).  Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil and butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  When the oil has heated, add onions and cook until transluscent.  Add garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant but not browned.  Add tomatoes, basil, and spices, and cook until everything is heated through.  Taste and season accordingly as you go.

When the topping and bread are both finished, top each slice with a quarter of the tomato mixture and sprinkle with cheese.

Double Chocolate Scones Saturday, Apr 3 2010 

Easter is one of those holidays where, like Christmas, everyone gets up early.  For Brother and I, it was because there were gifts to be opened (in the form of adorable, bunny-shaped Easter baskets) before Church started.  And, of course, I had to allow time to dress in my frilly, white Easter dress and matching hat.  Of course.  But a girl never grows out of dressing for the occasion, so if you think for one second that I’m lying when I tell you that Cousin and I went searching for Easter hats last week…well then, please reread my last hundred or so entries.  Because of all the bad life choices I’ve made, Easter-hat-shopping, even though we came up empty-handed, will never be one of them.

So for all of you who will be up early tomorrow to dress up for Church and egg-hunting, might I suggest some  scones for breakfast?

Double Chocolate Scones

I used half whole wheat flour, half white flour here, and you really can’t tell the difference…plus it makes me feel better about it.  I also cut the scones into the shape of crosses…mostly because I like holiday-themed anything.

2 cups flour

1 tbsp baking powder

4 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

5 tbsp butter, chilled and cut into cubes

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup half-and-half or cream

2 tbsp cocoa powder

2 oz. white chocolate, chopped

1 tbsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cocoa powder together.  Using a pastry cutter, incorporate the butter.  When it is broken up into small clumps throughout the dough, add the cream, milk, and vanilla, and stir just until a dough is formed.  Add the white chocolate and mix just until evenly incorporated.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead to bring all the bits together.  Once the dough forms a cohesive ball, either press it into an 8-inch cake pan, then turn back out onto the floured surface and cut into wedges, OR use cookie-cutters to create shapes, pressing the extra dough scraps back together and repeating until you’re out of dough.

Place the scones on the lined baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes.

White Chocolate Pistachio Scones Thursday, Mar 11 2010 

It started simply enough.  I woke up last Friday morning in desperate need of a scone.  This was admittedly bizarre for several reasons.  First, because I eat oatmeal almost every day and my body is generally too sleep deprived to react terribly vehemently to this automatic behavior.  Second, having gone out for a “few drinks” that lasted to the wee hours of the morning the night before, I expected myself to be in the sausage-egg-and-cheese-bagel mood I’m usually in on mornings when I go out the night before.  But, nevertheless, there I was at 7:45am, on my way to work, needing a scone.

Normal humans in this dilemma would’ve taken the easy route and bought a scone when they stopped for their morning latte.  But no.  Not this human.  This human is a snot.  And this human, having enjoyed homemade scones a few too many times, just couldn’t bring herself to purchase one that was undoubtedly mass-produced from some mix.

Instead of making the correct simple choice, I went grocery shopping after work.  I bought butter and flour and, in a fit of St. Patty’s Day anticipation, pistachios and white chocolate.  Couple things: pistachios? I know.  They’re green.  I kid you not – that is the one and only reason I bought them.  I swear to you that I’ve had pistachios a total of one time in my entire 24 years of life, and that was at a bar in Prague (where they evidently believe “barnuts” to be unshelled pistachios).  But here I was, shelling out $5 for a bag of something I wasn’t entirely sure I remembered liking, and deciding (based on literally nothing but the colors green and white being indicative of this whole March holiday thing) that white chocolate, rather than my prefered dark chocolate would be the way to go.  Alright, self, let’s take a risk.

Of course, because nothing I do can ever be easy, I couldn’t find a bag of shelled pistachios.  Again, normal humans would have either a) abandoned the idea, or b) gone to another store.  Not this girl: I was committed.  I took them home, plopped myself down at the kitchen table, and shelled half of the bag of pistachios.  Thirty minutes later, I thought that toasting them up might be nice, and popped them in the oven.  Not four minutes later when I checked on them, they were burned.  Ruined.  Black.  And I shit you not, rather than surrender to whatever God it was that obviously was against my quest to have a goddamn scone on Friday, I shelled the other half of that bag.  Say it with me, friends: COMMITMENT.

Anyway, despite my best efforts to eff up as much as possible in one single evening, I eventually had my scones.  And they were green and white, and incredibly tiny and cute.  And by Saturday afternoon at 1:00, they were also very much all gone – courtesy of a family who “doesn’t really like pistachios.” Riiiiight.

White Chocolate Pistachio Scones

Adapted from here, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen

1 3/4 cups flour

1 tbsp baking powder

3 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

5 tbsp (chilled) butter, cut into small cubes

3/4 cup pistachios

2 oz. white chocolate, chopped

1 cup heavy cream

Heat oven to 425.  In a spice/coffee grinder or food processor, grind 1/4 cup of pistachios into a powder.  Whisk this powder together with all of the dry ingredients except the other 1/2 cup of whole pistachios.  Cut in butter with a pastry blender (you can do this in a food processor as well, but I did it by hand) until it is mostly blended into the dry ingredients (there will still be some chunks of butter).  Stir in whole pistachios.  Mix in heavy cream until a dough is formed, then turn out the dough and all of the floury bits onto a countertop.

Knead just until it comes together in a sticky ball, then press it into an 8-inch cake pan.  Turn the dough back out of the pan and onto your countertop.  It will retain the shape of the pan, and you can then cut the dough into 12 equal wedges (I actually made 24 mini scones this time).

Place wedges on a baking sheet (I lined mine with parchment paper) and bake 12-15 minutes (scones will just be turning brown).

Birthday Scones and Apologies Monday, Jan 4 2010 

Ok.  So, I lied.  But I have a good excuse…seriously, wait until you see how busy I’ve been.  You won’t see it all today of course, because it’s the kind of busy that will take me a week to explain adequately enough to do justice to all the wonderful things I’ve been doing these past few weeks.

Boyfriend and I got back from across the pond last night, and it took me four shots of espresso plus a cup of tea to get through work today.  Not only was my body clock five hours ahead and a week’s worth of sleep behind the rest of the world, but I could not stop pining away for a glass of mulled wine and some scones.

I’m getting a little ahead of myself though, because Londontown isn’t the only item on the list of things to share – far from it, in fact.  We’ll start way back when, with the fact that I, being possibly the most annoying unborn child ever, was two very frustrating weeks late when Mom was pregnant with me.  I figure it’s a lot like my desire to stay in bed on cold, dreary Mondays (I’m looking at you, frigid NJ weather)…it’s loud and cold and hectic out there in the real world, and I’m perfectly happy riiiiiight here.  Overshare?  I think so.

Anyway, when I finally decided, in my tiny, mischievous brain, that I was ready to greet the bright, shiny world, it was New Year’s Eve.  The doctors asked Mom if she wanted to wait it out and have the first baby of 1986, and I think it would be an appropriate guess that her response was something to the effect of “HELL NO.”  And so here we are, 24 years later, still torturing my relatives with the fact that my birthday falls just six days after Christmas, and yes you do have to celebrate my birthday as its own distinct holiday and not merely as an addendum to Christmas or New Years.

As I’ve mentioned, my family hosts a mean birthday party.  And, being just as childish and demanding about my birthday at age 24 as I was at age, um, four, my birthday party this year had a theme.  Yes, you read that correctly: a themed 24th birthday party.

The theme, in honor of my approaching trip to London (combined with the teeny detail that the only time we could have said party was at 1pm the day after Christmas), was British High Tea.  If you’re thinking this means we broke out the 3-tiered serving tray and cut the crusts off of eensy little cucumber sandwiches…….then you are correct.  If you think this means that I wore something more sophisticated than my fuzzy teal slippers to the party, you are incorrect.  It’s my party and I’ll [do what] I want to….

I also took this opportunity to try out a scone recipe I’d been eyeing for, I don’t know, a year?  I mean, if you’re going to have a High Tea, you had better make some scones.  And they had better be flaky, creamy, and decadent.  And fortunately for both party-goers and the Birthday Girl, they were just that.  Don’t believe me?  Try it for yourself.


Cranberry Scones

Adapted from the Smitten Kitchen

2 cups AP flour

1 tbsp baking powder

3 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

5 tbsp (chilled) butter, cut into small cubes

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 cup heavy cream

Heat oven to 425.  Whisk together all dry ingredients except cranberries.  Cut in butter with a pastry blender (you can do this in a food processor as well, but I did it by hand) until it is mostly blended into the dry ingredients (there will still be some chunks of butter).  Stir in cranberries.  Mix in heavy cream until a dough is formed, then turn out the dough and all of the floury bits onto a countertop.

Knead just until it comes together in a sticky ball, then press it into an 8-inch cake pan.  Turn the dough back out of the pan and onto your countertop.  It will retain the shape of the pan, and you can then cut the dough into 8 (I made 12 instead) equal wedges.

Place wedges on a baking sheet (I lined mine with parchment paper) and bake 12-15 minutes (scones will just be turning brown).

Gourmet Gingerbread Sunday, Dec 20 2009 

It’s been too long since I’ve had gingerbread.  Well, actually, that’s a complete lie.  But still – it’s been years since I’ve made gingerbread.  Mom says Florida Grandmom (her mother) used to bake gingerbread every year when she came to visit for Christmas, but this was before I was bitten by the baking bug (Woah, alliteration.  Thanks middle school Language Arts!) and I actually have no memory at all of this happening.  My childhood Christmas memories err more towards, well, opening presents in my pj’s…and then watching as Dad spent hours constructing whatever Barbie dollhouse/car/RV (Seriously – it’s hot pink and is still in my basement.  Did I mention I happen to loathe camping??) I’d wanted that year.  Ahh, the joys of parenting.

I do, however, have one very vivid gingerbread-related memory, and it goes a little something like this:

One year, I made gingerbread myself.  I remember preheating the oven, making the whole shebang (unassisted, thankyouverymuch), pouring it lovingly into the loaf pan, sliding it ever so carefully into the hot oven, shutting the door…and immediately realizing I had forgotten to add the molasses.  Which is, of course, arguably the key ingredient for gingerbread success (I say arguably because leaving out the ginger would sort of eff up the whole name of the dish).  So I yanked it out of the oven, broke up the delicate crust that had started to form on the top, feverishly dumped the molasses into the pan, stirred like my damn life depended on it, and flung it back into the oven – all the while shooting furtive little glances around the kitchen to make sure my family hadn’t realized what a dopey thing I’d done.  I mean, really Katie.  You know what color gingerbread is.  Did you honestly think that pale, bread-batter colored crap was going to come out the deep, dark brown of gingerbread?  I didn’t think so.

How did it taste, you ask?  No idea.  Can’t remember.  But I think the fact that I’ve blocked out the part of the memory where I actually consume the stuff is an indication of its success.  Or, you know, lack thereof.  Anyway….

Perhaps this is why it’s been years since my last attempt.  But you guys know that, even after its untimely demise, I’m still a Gourmet addict, and the description of their gingerbread sucked me right in.  No strange ingredients, it promised, just straightforward gingerbread. Oh!  Something easy! Well then.  Joy to the World, indeed, friends.

Gourmet Gingerbread

Adapted from Gourmet

Warm out of the oven, this gingerbread is the best I’ve had in a long time.  More cake than bread, it rises a considerable amount, leaving the inside incredibly fluffy, moist, and…soft.  That’s the only way I can describe it – soft. Soft and Christmasy.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 cup mild molasses

3/4 cup whole milk

1/2 cup hot water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9-inch square baking pan.

Mix together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together in a separate bowl until pale and fluffy.  Beat in egg, then beat in molasses and milk.  Slowly add the flour mixture until everything is smooth and incorporated, then add the hot water and stir until mixed.  The batter will look gross and curdled – it’s OKAY.

Spread batter evenly into pan, and bake until set (a cake tester will come out nearly clean – I didn’t want to overbake mine, so it wasn’t completely clean yet).  Cool on a wire rack, then cut.

Pumpkin, Revisited Tuesday, Nov 24 2009 

In case you haven’t glanced at your calendar lately, November is rapidly coming to a close.  As in, Thanksgiving is in two days.  As in, I only have to do this daily posting stuff for another week (!!).  As in, holy crap, I have to start Christmas shopping! 

So before we fastforward into the snowy months, and I go into hibernation with my Penn State Snuggie and Chouffe, pining for the days of 50-degree weather and the urge to post every day, I thought we could revist all the pumpkin recipes that scream FALL! to me one last time. 

Thanksgiving breakfast, anyone?

Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkin Scones

 

Sides:

Pumpkin Souffle

Pumpkin Bread

 

Appetizers and Munchies:

Pumpkin Ravioli

Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

 

And, of course, the ever-important cocktail:

Pumpkin Martinis

Pumpkin Scones Saturday, Nov 21 2009 

Are you counting down the days till I stop talking about pumpkin?  While my beer tastes have progressed to deeply dark, heavily spiced, warming brews, my culinary tendencies are still lingering over pumpkin – and probably will be until it becomes December, the season of gingerbread.  I can feel you rolling your eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve always been mildly terrified of scones.  They’ve always seemed prissy and fussy, and not at all like something I’d be able to create in my kitchen.  Pastry always gets me that way, and I’m not sure why.  A recipe is a recipe, but it’s all the italized “make sure the butter is cold” and the numerous bowls and funny words like “slurry” that make me quickly pass those recipes by.  I don’t have time for fuss (says the girl who will tolerate multiple bread-risings), especially on a weeknight, which is when I chose to make these scones.  But the recipe seemed too perfect – I just happened to have leftover heavy cream and pumpkin, both of which needed to be used up soon.

Of course, I have to mess with even the most perfect recipes, and this one was no exception.  I changed out all the white flour for whole wheat and decreased the cream, sugar, and butter (I know, I know, all the best parts are gone), upped the pumpkin, and added toasted hazelnuts.  And for all the substitutions?  Well, let’s just say that even Brother ate one.  And Brother eats nothing that I like.

Pumpkin Scones

Adapted from Pinch My Salt

 

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup wheat germ

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp ground ginger

4 tbsp unsalted butter

2/3 cup pumpkin puree

Scant 1/3 cup heavy cream

4 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Cut the butter into small pieces, and refrigerate until you’re ready to use them.  In another bowl, combine flour and wheat germ, baking powder, salt, and all the spices.  Whisk together.  Refrigerate this as well.

In separate bowl, combine pumpkin, heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla.  Whisk together.  Get all of the bowls out of the fridge, and combine the butter and flour, cutting them together with a pastry blender until they resemble course crumb.  Stir in the nuts.

All at once, add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients.  Mix everything together, then turn out the dough onto the counter and push it together to form a dough.  Knead it if necessary, then pat it into a rough circle, about 1 inch thick.  Cut it (as you would a pie) into 16 pieces.

Place all the scones onto the baking sheet, and bake until the bottom is golden and they are completely set.  Cool completely.

Pumpkin Pancakes Thursday, Nov 12 2009 

Sometimes I crave pancakes.  And sometimes, it’s 7:00…. PM.  And sometimes, I just bite the bullet and make the damn pancakes.  For dinner.P1040386

 

And sometimes, they’re awesome.  I tend to say that about a lot of pancakes, because pancakes, like waffles, are rarely crappy.  I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, I’m just saying that as long as you have a basic recipe to work with, you can change the flavor profile and the components and still get the result you were after – buttery, soft, melt-in-your-mouth tasty breakfast.  Or dinner. Even random roadside diners in Tennessee can make a decent buttermilk hotcake.  Trust me – I’ve done the legwork.

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Pinch My Salt even went and created a recipe that I felt good about using as dinner.  I tweaked it a little, but it’s the same general idea – even if I couldn’t resist adding a handful of chocolate chips.  And, um, eating a handful of chocolate chips?  What!? You know I have no self-control when it comes to these things…

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Pinch My Salt Pumpkin Pancakes

Adapted from here

 

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup wheat germ

1 cup pure pumpkin puree

1 cup buttermilk (or my ghetto-rigged version, which involved a cup of milk and a splash of lemon-juice)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 eggs

1/2 tsp all-spice

1/2 – 1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp brown sugar

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, wheat germ, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar.  In a separate (smaller) bowl, mix together eggs, milk, pumpkin and oil.  Add wet ingredients to dry, and mix together: batter will be lumpy.  Add walnuts and chocolate chips, and mix just to incorporate.

Heat a griddle or large saucepan over medium/medium-high heat.  Drop 1/4 cup of batter into the pan, and flip once – when bubbles start to form in the batter.  Once both sides are golden, remove it from the griddle and repeat the process until your out of batter.  Then eat them slower than I did, because my tummy hurts a tiny little bit.

 

What’s that? You’re not sick of pumpkin yet either!? This must be why we’re friends!! CHECK IT OUT:

Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Martinis

Pumpkin Souffle

Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin Ravioli

 

 

 

 

 

Arepas Tuesday, Nov 3 2009 

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Is it just me, or do foreign foods always sound more intimidating to make than traditional American dishes?  I mean, I make bread all the damn time, but because they have a fancy name and a South American origin, I always imagined arepas to be a challenge.  Well, color me disillusioned when I found out that the things really only have four ingredients – arepa flour, salt, water, and cheese.  There’s not even any yeast to mess with, being that it’s a flatbread and all, and the instructions literally read something like “dump everything in a bowl, mix, form into patties, fry.”  If only I had known sooner!!

See, I didn’t even know arepas existed until fairly recently – call discoveries like this part of my “food awakening.”  But one day (the man, the myth, the legend) Bobby Flay did an episode of his (cheesy, but oddly riveting) show “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” with the arepa ladies, and I was fascinated.  Apparently, these were a well-known, much-appreciated phenomenon in NYC (or so Bobby led me to believe), and though I’d grown up going into the city often, I had never seen hide nor tail of an arepa.  So I let Bobby and the ladies explain them to me while I pined for one from my couch.  Imagine my delight when, during my next NYC outing, I came face-to-face with several arepa stands!

Apparently, though, an arepa is like any other street food, and if you don’t know which vendors have the good stuff, you shouldn’t just buy from anyone (sounded a little like I was talking about a drug deal there).  And while the arepa I enjoyed that day in the city was decent, I knew – because Bobby had shown me the light – that they could be better.  Rather than just a mozzarella cheese filling, I knew there could, and should, be other options.  Options that highlighted the deliciously crisp patty, options that made the sandwich melt in your mouth and come alive.  But alas, I had no such arepa, and, believing that they were a complex undertaking, resigned myself to never experiencing arepa bliss.

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BUT HOLD THE PHONE: while indulging in my favorite hobby several weeks ago (you know, reading old Gourmet magazines), I came across a recipe for arepas.  And it was really short.  Here’s the thing about me and new recipes: if I think the topic of the recipe is daunting, the shorter the recipe is, the more likely I am to try it.  I’ll make a 3-page-long bread recipe or complete a 57-step cookie procedure, but if I don’t really know if I’m capable of making something happen, the rule of thumb is: the shorter the recipe, the better your chances.  So I ripped out the little blurb, placed it on my desk, went to bed, and forgot about it.  For weeks.

Then, I got a stupid idea.  I mean really, really, what-the-hell-were-you-thinking kind of stupid.  I decided to sign up for NaBloPoMo.  See?  Stupid, Katie.  When do you imagine you’re going to have time for this? You work 50+ hours a week.  Sometimes you go to the gym.  Sometimes you have friends that you like to go out with.  You really like sleeping and/or laying on the couch for hours watching football and/or talking to Boyfriend.  YOUR DAYS ARE JAM-PACKED.  But there I was, committed, and wondering how I was going to come up with 30 days worth of content.  So, I give you: STALLING as well as MILKING IT!! Yay! You’ll be lucky enough to get the arepa recipe today, but as for what I put inside? For that, you’ll have to tune in tomorrow.  Suffice it to say, it’s worth the wait.

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Arepas

Inspired by Gourmet, but mostly adapted from the Goya recipe on the bag of flour I bought, which doesn’t even really appear on the website and is even easier than the published one

Makes 2 arepas

1/2 cup arepa flour

3/4 cup warm water

2 tsp parmesan cheese, grated

Pinch of salt

1-2 tbsp butter

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, water, cheese and salt together.  Let dough rest for 5 minutes.

Heat a saucepan/griddle over medium-high heat, and melt the butter in the pan.

Form the dough into 2 balls, then flatten each until they’re about the size of an English muffin (What? It’s a good measurement!).  Lay both patties in the pan once the butter is fully melted, and cook on one side until golden (5 or so minutes) – they’ll be sizzling.  Once the underside is golden brown, flip and cook until the other side is golden.  When they’re done, they should sound hollow when thumped.

I chose to cut mine in half, then place both halves, cut-side down, back in the pan to make them extra crispy.  I think it was a wonderful choice, but, to each his own.

Stuff with cheese, or filling of your choice, or come back tomorrow to see the filling of my choice 🙂

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