About 2 weeks ago, Adam and I did nothing but watch Food Network for about 3 days straight. Episode after episode of Ace of Cakes, Iron Chef America, Good Eats, Unwrapped… but one show in particular caught my attention and has lingered in my mind for the whole two weeks. One particular episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay featuring the traditional Venezuelan dish, arepas.
According to Wikipedia, arepas are:
a bread made of corn originating from the northern Andes in South America (Colombia and Venezuela), and which has now spread to other areas in Latin America (e.g. the Dominican Republic, where it is now popular). It is similar to the Mesoamerican tortilla.
The word “arepa” may originate from the language of the Caracas Indians (north coast of Venezuela) that meant “maize.”
I was bound and determined to make arepas. They seemed easy enough, but I was sure there was a secret to making really good ones. I asked my Venezuelan student to tell me what her mom does when she makes them, and she said “I dunno, its just masa and water and a little salt.” (Can you tell she’s an 8th grader?) I started looking up recipes. She was right, its just masa (corn flour), and water, and a little salt! I went to the grocery store today and bought the necessary supplies, and decided on a filling.
The thing with arepas is that they can be filled with anything. Cheese, meat, vegetables, seafood… I decided on steak, cheese, avocado and sour cream. It sounds like a lot, but there was only about an ounce or two of meat, and small bits of the other stuff.
You’re getting 2 photos today (don’t you feel special?) because neither view I took gave the full effect of this Venezuelan sandwich. The arepas were about the size of a regular English muffin.
2 cups masa harina
2.5 cups warm water
1/2 tsp. salt
In a bowl, pour the 2.5 cups of water, stir the salt in, then gradually stir in the flour until it forms a smooth dough. Let the dough sit about 5 minutes, then form into 3″ patties. Heat an oven safe griddle, and pre-heat the oven to 400*. When the griddle is hot, place the arepas gently on the surface, turning once. Transfer the griddle to the oven and bake about 10 minutes. Split and stuff with filling of your choice.
Spicy Tomato Steak
1 lb. top sirloin, trimmed
1 can Ro-Tel or other tomatoes with chiles
1 can broth
salt to taste
1 tbsp. chili powder
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. oil
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
In a pot or pan with a cover, heat the oil. Then add the onion and garlic. Cook until lightly browned. Lightly salt both sides of your steak, then add to the pan. Pour the can of Ro-Tel, NOT drained, vinegar, and the can of broth over the steak, then stir in the chili powder. Cook, covered, about 50 minutes until steak is tender. Remove from the pan and allow to sit a few minutes before chopping into small pieces.
I was so skeptical of this dinner. I had no idea if the arepas would come out, and no idea how the steak would turn out. I assembled the sandwiches, and warned Adam, “I have absolutely no idea how these will taste. Please be honest.” He took a bite. I waited. Then he took another bite accompanied by a “mmmm” sound. That was a good sign. I finally tried mine and I couldn’t stop “mmmm”-ing! What a great treat! This is something that will for sure be on our regular rotation! Well, some permutation of this meal… I want to try a vegetarian roasted veggie one, a chicken one, a plain cheese one… maybe arepas will be dangerous.
In any case, you must try arepas! They are: vegetarian, gluten-free, wheat-free, and DELICIOUS! I’m still basking in the truly delicious surprise that was my arepa dinner. I gave one to my stepdad when he came to drop off Stella, and he called about 5 minutes later to rave about how great it was!
Speaking of, this is Stella, my mom and stepdad’s goldendoodle!
A couple of blogger news bites!
- PLEASE go bid on baked goods at Meghann’s site! All proceeds go to benefit Team in Training’s fight against Leukemia and Lymphoma.
- Check out ZestyCook’s Grill Charms Giveaway! They’re these cool little things that go into steak or burgers so you can tell whose is whose. Cool stuff!
- I sent my Secret Cupid gift out this weekend, so if you haven’t gotten yours yet, you might be getting mine!
I’m extremely proud of myself also. I walked 1.5 miles today in 25 minutes with my work friend. Now, for those of you that run miles upon miles, walking 1.5 miles isn’t a big deal. For me? Yeah. A big deal.