|Cheese Stuffed Arepas|
Theme: Archived Recipes Revisited & Improved
Today I am continuing this month's BM theme of improving archived recipes with Latin American arepas.
The last time I talked about arepas here I had described the process of making them without showing you the process of making them. This time, you are getting a complete step by step recipe for making delicious South American arepas.
I live in one of, if not the most diverse community in the country as detailed in this article here. Being someone who likes to cook different cuisines from all over the world, I am so lucky to have this diverse selection of foods all available, within walking distance from my apartment. 8 blocks in one direction and I might as well be in Jamaica or Trinidad with Caribbean produce like breadfruit, plantain, avocado & calaloo readily available, while restaurants feature foods like Jerk Chicken, Curry Goat Roti & Cassava Pone. 8 blocks in the other direction and it could be the streets of Lahore with a masjid on every other block and markets featuring every type of dhal (beans, peas) known to man, as well as pickles, chutneys, rotis and other Indian/Pakistani food products. Restaurants feature curries, kebabs, paratha and in the summertime Rooh-Afza with Basil Seeds (a summertime drink made with concentrated rose syrup and water). In the middle of all this, are the Latino population coming from Mexico, Dominican Republic & El Salvador just to name a few. In addition to this, we have a large population of Eastern European and Israeli Jews living in the middle of it. We are probably the only neighborhood anywhere in the world (except maybe Suriname) where a synagogue & a mosque can be located across the street from each other, without protests or argument.
Although arepas can be served plain, they are very commonly made stuffed with cheese, as I did in this recipe. Due to the diversity in my neighborhood as detailed above, my local supermarket has a huge selection of Latin American cheeses. There are even different versions of the same cheese depending where they come from - Mexico, Honduras, Ecuador. One of the manufacturers who make these Latin American cheeses has a processing factory just a few blocks from the supermarket, so the cheeses we get are very fresh. You can use any Latin American cheese you prefer - queso cotija, quese de hojas, queso blanco or queso fresca are all viable options to use in this recipe (although some will melt better than others). Most decent supermarkets will have at least one of these options available. If none are available, you can substitute mozzarella or cheddar or even feta (however due to the high salt content of feta, you will have to use a reduced amount).
Although the stuffed cheese kind of arepa I made here serve as a great snack or breakfast on their own, in many Latin American countries, the plain ones are served with every meal, with beans and meat. They can also be split apart and serve as the bread, for sandwiches.
Stuffed Arepas(click here for printable recipe)
2 cups Arepa flour (sold as harina precocida, instant corn flour or masa, this is a special corn flour that is cooked, prior to being dried and ground into flour. There are several brands that make this - the most popular available in the U.S. are Goya, Maseca & P.A.N. You can purchase it online here.)
2 cups warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup queso de hoja, grated (or whichever Latin American cheese you have access to)
In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Add warm water and form into a dough with your hands. Dough comes together very easily and should be soft, but not sticky. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Take a little bit of dough and flatten into a disc in your hand. Take a little bit of cheese (about 1 tablespoon) and place in the center. Fold over and form a ball. Flatten back into a disc by pressing in between your hands and round the edges. Repeat until all the dough has been used. While you are doing this, place the formed arepas in between waxed paper or plastic wrap so that the dough does not dry out.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a skillet, heat a little oil; just enough for shallow frying. Add arepas and fry on medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side until golden brown and crusty on the outside.
Place on a cookie sheet sprayed with non-stick spray.
Finish cook in oven for 20 minutes.
Enjoy fluffy stuffed arepas!
I had them as part of a delicious dinner with stewed beans and a salad.
|Cheese Stuffed Arepas with Black Beans & Salad|
Here is the Latin American style bean recipe also.
Latin American Stewed Beans(click here for printable recipe)
1 1/4 cups black beans, soaked overnight
1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 bay leaf
3 cups water
2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
salt, to taste
Heat oil. Add onion, garlic and bell pepper. Saute until vegetables are softened.
Add drained beans, cumin, bay leaf and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes, until beans are tender, adding more water if necessar.
Add cilantro and salt, to taste. Stir to combine.
Don't forget to check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#17
As arepas cook wonderful on the grill also (it's a popular street food item), I am submitting it to Simply.Food's Let's Cook for Barbecues & Picnics
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