Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Especially on the weekends, I get numerous photographs from my sister about what she's made for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Last week, it was arepas, and that was it for me, what a great idea --  I had to make them for brunch too.

I already had fine cornmeal (it's a staple in my pantry), cheese (Sweden has some amazing cheddar-like cheeses), milk (we put it in our porridge for B12). And the rest were veggies like cabbage that I bought for the occasion, a carrot I had lying around, and onion, of course. I had made my Mexican hot sauce ahead and frozen it for the stray quesadilla and burrito, but I found exactly where it belonged -- with arepas. 

My sister and I both followed Mark Bittman's arepa recipe. I tweaked it by stuffing it with mashed beans and cheese because it tastes oh so good and is so nutritious on the iron front. The pickled vegetable idea came from some beautiful beautiful pupusas I ate 6 years ago in Red Hook Brooklyn on a baseball field -- some talented women decided to sell these Ecuadorian stuffed corn flatbreads with pickled shredded vegetables every Saturday and I've never forgotten them. I have always meant to make pupusas but didn't have masa harina (it's hard to find here) and it turns out that this arepa is so similar to pupusas that perhaps my quest stops here! 

Arepas are great for breakfast, but also as a snack. We munched on them while shopping and they held us over well before dinner. I can't wait to make this brunch for friends. Along with a sweet treat of course, like beignets

Inspired by Mark Bittman's recipe
Yields 8 arepas

1 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup grated cheddar
1 cup milk (low fat is fine)
2 tbs (25g) butter
Canola oil, for frying

Pickled salad:
1/3 cup shredded cabbage
1/4 cup onion, thinly sliced
2 tbs shredded carrots
1 tbs vinegar
salt to taste

1/2 cup kidney beans, cooked and drained
1/4 cup cheddar, grated (optional)
1/2 tbs chipotle sauce (or Mexican hot sauce)

1. In a large microwave safe bowl, heat milk and butter until the butter is melted. Stir in cornmeal, salt and cheese. Allow to sit for 15 minutes, until the mass thickens.

2. In a separate bowl, make the salad: mix the cabbage, carrots and onions with salt and vinegar.

3. In a separate bowl, make the filling: mash the beans, cheese and chipotle sauce together. 

4. Preheat a pan, on medium heat, with enough canola oil to coat the bottom.  Scoop the cornmeal mixture in the palm of your hand, about 1/4 cup, then make an indent in the middle and add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the bean mixture. Cover the top of the bean mixture with more cornmeal mixture so that the beans are no longer exposed. Carefully drop them into the hot pan. Repeat with the rest. Flip when the edges look dry, and golden on the bottom, just like a pancake. 

Serve warm with pickled salad and some hot sauce. Enjoy! 

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