Colombian Arepas

A dear friend visited me over the holidays. She came bearing all kinds of lovely goodies, including a Colombian cookbook. I’m looking forward to trying out some of the recipes.

After a day of sight-seeing, she kindly demonstrated how to make arepas, Columbian style. An arepa is a baked, grilled or fried corn patty, typically served with meat, cheese, eggs or vegetables. I absolutely LOVE arepas, they’re so nutritious and practical. I usually make them Venezuelan style. This type is thicker and eaten in a similar fashion to a hamburger — you slice the corn patty open and fill it with your ingredients of choice. My friend told me the Colombian version is much thinner and you typically put the ingredients on top of the arepa.

Tonight she prepared some arepas for me and my husband. I took a night off, observed her in action, set the table and prepared a little mixture of rucola, garlic, lemon and olive oil to go with the arepas. The below recipe makes 7 – 8 medium-sized arepas.

What you need.

  • 2 c. of pre-cooked corn flour (typically you can find this in an ethnic grocery store or grocery store aisle, some brands include P.A.N., Doña Arepa)
  • 2 c. warm water (a little more if the dough is too dry)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • canola or sunflower oil

How you make it.

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200F/105 C. Place an ovenproof dish in the oven.
  2. Pour corn flour in a bowl.Add in 1 tsp of salt.
  3. Gradually add water 1/2 c water at a time, mixing with your hands each time to incorporate the dough. Once you add all the water, the mixture should form a ball. The dough shouldn’t be too dry nor too wet/sticky.
  4. Place just enough oil in a pan to coat the bottom and heat the pan on medium-high heat.
  5. Take a handful of the dough and flatten it with your hands to form a flat circle. Use your fingers to smooth out the edges.
  6. Place the patty in the oil and fry until golden brown, carefully flip it and do the same for theuncooked side. Place the arepa in the oven-proof dish and cover to keep warm.
  7. Continue until you finish cooking all arepas.

Cover the arepa with your ingredients of choice. I added cheddar cheese, tomatoes and rucola tossed with garlic, lemon and olive oil.

Enjoy!

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Baked Turnip Casserole

I take part in a vegetable cooperative. Every week, I pick up a bag of seasonal vegetables and sometimes fruits assembled by  local farmers. This system has introduced a lot of veggies that I’ve never cooked before. It’s also reintroduced many vegetables that my Mom used to cook for me as a child that I for some reason no longer buy as an adult. Take turnips for instance, in southern cuisine, they’re pretty much a staple, used to make delicious dishes such as stewed turnips and turnip greens.

I’ve received a nice supply of turnips from my veggie coop. They are such a lovely and welcomed addition to my fridge! I enjoy tossing them in salads, as they add a nice crunch and tangy taste. They are a nice alternative to dishes one would traditionally make with potatoes. I like them raw, mashed and recently I discovered, I love them baked and slightly drenched in cream and Gruyère cheese. Well, anything cooked with cream and Gruyère can pretty much taste like a piece of heaven. Hope you enjoy this short, simple recipe:

 

What you need.

4 – 5 medium-sized turnips, thinly sliced

cream (enough to cover the bottom of your glass baking dish)

3/4 c of grated Gruyère

2 -3 cloves of minced garlic

couple of pinches of nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

How you make it.

Preheat your oven to 350

Slice up your turnips and stack them in an oven-proof dish.

Mix up your milk, nutmeg and garlic and pour the mixture all over the turnips.

Season turnips and sprinkle with cheese.

Bake 15 minutes at 350, increase heat to 400 and bake 15 minutes further, or until tender and golden brown.

Enjoy with a nice colorful salad.