Arepas on the griddle

Arepas

Easy to make, Venezuelan Food

Spanish Version

One of the main Venezuelan dishes is the arepa, a corn “bread”, done since prehistorical times by the natives, the history of the arepa date from the 800 to 400 b.C, some corn fossils and utensils used to make them has been found.

The original process require dried corn kernels, de hulled, cooked, milled and kneaded, which required a lot of cooking time, however, thanks to the industrial revolution in 1959 a group of visionaries simplified this process with the creation of the precooked corn flour, a product obtained from the corn flakes used for the brewing process.

There is versions of the arepas as homes in Venezuela, there are sweet and savory, empty and filled, this first recipe has the basic arepa dough.

Some of The benefits of the arepas are the high glycemic index, which keeps the blood sugar levels very stable, being a corn product is riched with tocopherols and phytosterols which helps to reduce cholesterol levels in blod, it’s a gluten free or low gluten, depending on the corn flour producers.

It can be found in over 32 countries around the world under the brand P.A.N. made out of two maize varieties yellow or white corn.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup of precooked corn flour
1 1/4 cups of water
1 teaspoon corn oil
1/8 teaspoon salt

PREPARATION

In a bowl dissolve the salt into the water.

Gradually add the flour and mix it with the fingers to dissolve any lumps, adding enough to make a soft dough that holds its shape without cracking when molded.

Leave to rest for 5 minutes, then add the oil and work it in with your hands, if needed add more corn flour or water to keep the dough to the proper consistency.

Divide the dough in two portions, shape them into a 4-inch diameter patties, about 1 inch thick. Transfer to a plate.

Lightly oil a large nonstick skillet or griddle and heat over medium heat.
In batches, place the arepas in the griddle. Cook until the underside is golden brown, about 4 minutes, the patties must be loose from the griddle. Turn and brown the other side.

When the arepas are browned, transfer them directly to the oven rack (without any baking sheet) and bake until the surfaces of the arepas have formed a taut skin, when they are done you can tap them with the fingers and hear a hollow sound. Return arepas to the plate and let them cool a little bit.

Serve warm and pick something to fill them like ham or cheese, and enjoy!

 

 

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Marble Cake

Butter marble cake

Desserts

Spanish Version

One of the first cakes made from scratch is this home made butter marble poundcake, the recipe comes from an INDULAC’s recipe calendar from 1989, it asks for a few products produced by the company at that time as Milky brand milk or Rika butter, both brands far gone of the Venezuelan market. However the recipe is very usable, easy to do and has that delicious butter taste that I love, this recipe has some tweaks on a few ingredients to improve flavor and quality.

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 tbsp baking powder

3 cups of all porpouse flour  

380 g salted butter 

2 cups of sugar

6 eggs

1 cup of milk 

6 tbsp pure cocoa powder 

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 350 °F

In a bowl sift the flour and the baking powder

In another bowl (it can be done with the electric mixer) cream the butter and sugar, keep whisking and add the eggs one by one, alternating with the milk and sifted flour.

In baking mold buttered and and floured pour half the preparation.

To the other half add the cocoa and mix to have an uniform color.

Pour this mix over the other and with the tip of a knife mix doing twirling movements.

Bake for approximately an hour to 350 °F and unmold before completely cool. 

 
Egg whites Omelette

Egg whites omelette

Breakfast, Easy to make, Healthy

Spanish Version

A classic of high protein diets is the egg whites omelette, because it’s a fast and easy way to obtain high quality protein. The egg white possess a great source of protein easy to obtain and dast to cook.

Now, to the taste the egg whites have a very plain, almost neutral, taste and it can be really annoying to have on a everyday basis. In my case when I do a whites omelette I mix it with a portion of vegetables or meat, the one on the picture has aji dulce, onion and garlic the idea is to enhance the flavor of what’s on it with the omelette.

In the market there are many options to get egg whites, you can get them from fresh eggs, pasteurized frozen or on UHT, even powder, mostly used on the industrial preparations. For me there’s nothing like the fresh ones, the processed products don’t have the same texture while cooking, I can use them as an ingredient for some other preparation but nos as the main protein.

INGREDIENTS

1 Tablespoon oil
4 egg whites from large eggs

PREPARATION

spray a small pan with oil and bring it to mid high temperature.

In a bowl pour the egg whites separating them from the yolk, and mix them with a whisk or a fork.

There is a few methods to separate the yolks.

Open the egg in half and pass the yolk from a side to the other of the shell until most of the white is separated, discard the yolk.

Make a medium sized hole (thick as a finger) on one of the sides and pour out the white on a bowl.

You can also pour the whole eggs on a bowl and remove the yolks picking them in between the fingers.

So, once the pan is hot, pour the whites and let them cook, moving the pan from the handle so it doesn’t stick.

Once cooked from a side, around 2 or 3 minutes flip over and cook for 10 seconds on the opposite side, if it’s to hard to flip it over, fold and cook until sealed.

Now just fill with sautéed vegetables, or meat, or just ham and cheese!

NUTRITION FACTS

Calories 270
Carbs 0
Fat 20 g
Protein 22 g
Sodium 117 mg
Sugar 0 g

Cocoa and cardamom Ice Cream

Cocoa and Cardamom

Desserts

Spanish Version

Cardamom is an spice originated from India, it has a strong, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic, resinous fragrance, in fact it’s one of the most expensive spices per gram, and for me, delicious.

It’s used to make infusions, as ingredient for rice and cous cous to aromatize coffee, as natural remedy for gastric aches and even it’s said that have some afrodisiac effect.

I made this recipe for some friends that came over, the rich chocolate taste it’s complemented perfectly with the freshness that the cardamom brings to it.

INGREDIENTS

1 2/3 cups heavy cream
4 cardamom pods, crushed
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar, divided
3 tablespoons 100% coca powder
4 large egg yolks

Special Equipment: an ice cream maker


PREPARATION

Bring cream and cardamon just to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan, then cover and let steep about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring milk, 1/2 cup sugar, cocoa and a pinch of salt to a simmer in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring.

Whisk together yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a large bowl, then add milk mixture in a slow stream, whisking. Return mixture to medium saucepan and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until mixture coats back of spoon and registers 175°F on an instant-read thermometer (do not let boil). Immediately strain custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl, then quick-chill by setting bowl in an ice bath and stirring occasionally until cool, about 15 minutes.

Strain cardamom cream through fine-mesh sieve into custard, pressing on solids. Continue to chill in ice bath until custard is very cold, then freeze in ice cream maker. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, about 1 hour.

Frenched Chicken Lollipops

Frenching

Techniques

Spanish Version

There are techniques for food preparation that brings a better presentation to the dish, I discover this one when I was preparing a recipe of roasted pork ribs, it took me a while to find this term name in Spanish, but finally got it, is called “manchonner”

It’s very possible you have done it or have seen it done on ribs, pork chops, poultry wings or legs. It’s a procedure tha it’s done on the part of the bone that is going to be exposed and has to show a clean image.

It’s about cleaning the bone, removing all the meat before cooking, and to preserve the color and nature the exposed bones should be protected with foil paper during cooking, and at serving use a paper hat on the top as decoration ( a papillote à manchon), though this is not so comun now.

The ideal for this is to use a boning knife and remove the meat carefully. To easy practice you should try with chicken making frenched chicken wings

PROCEDURE

1. Begin with a whole chicken wing, consisting of a fat drumstick at one end, a drummette in the middle, and a pointed wing tip.

2. Grip the drumstick in one hand and the wing tip in the other. Bend the wing back forcefully at the joint between the drumstick and the drummette, so that the bone at the end of the drumstick pops out through the skin.

3. Place the wing on a cutting board, and use a knife to cut through the joint between the drumstick and the drummette, fully separating them. Then, gripping the exposed bone at the end of the drumstick, push all the meat to the opposite end, to form a length of bone topped by a knob of meat.

4. Grip the remaining drummette and wing tip in opposite hands, and bend them back at the joint, as you did in step 2, to reveal the ends of the two bones – on larger, one smaller and pointed.

5. Place the drummette and wing tip on the cutting board, and use a knife to cut off the wing tip. Discard the wing tip, or reserve it for making stock.

6. Take the smaller, pointed bone in one hand, and wiggle it until it is free of the flesh; discard. Then, gripping the bone at the end of the drummette, push all the meat to the opposite end, to form a length of bone topped by a knob of meat, as you did in step 3. Repeat with the rest of the chicken wings, then marinate and fry according to the directions in the recipe.

Tamarid Sorbet

Tamarind Sorbet

Desserts

Spanish Version

When the working life begins your vision of the world expands, because your working companions have different background that yours, it was 1994 and I was already working, I remember one of am colleagues, Betty, was obsessed with this song called “Jugo de tamarindo”, Tamarind juice, from a Latin artist called Kinito Mendez, i remember that song playing incessantly on the radio and she was happy dancing to that rhythm, music that I have probably never got to listen staying at home.

However, that song was about tamarind juice, and every time I think of tamarind I remember Betty and the summer of 94, there’s nothing more refreshing and delicious than a tamarind juice, right?
Well, this is a different take on tamarind, also refreshing for a hot afternoon

INGREDIENTS
Simple syrup

1 cup water
1 cup sugar

Tamarind

150 gr tamarind or tamarind paste

1 cup water

PREPARATION

Simple syrup, in a saucepan bring to boil the water and sugar until sugar is completely dissolved, then por that content in a heat proof cup and let cool and then chill on the refrigerator, this can be made ahead.

Tamarind

If you get the fruit, which will be ideal depending on the season, take away the shells and in a bowl, soak the pulp on half a cup of water for over 30 minutes. If you don’t get the fruit use sugar free tamarind paste.

Whisk the soaked pulp until dissolving most of the fiber in the water.

Over a cup strain the liquid pressing to pass most of it over, then take it back to the bowl and and the other half cup of water, whisk until the rest of the pulp is dissolved, in this stage you may see the tamarind seeds, repeat straining and toss away the fiber left and the seeds.

Sorbet

Chill both mixtures for at least two hours… This can be made ahead.

Once real cold mix both preparations on the ice cream maker following the equipment instructions.

Once done transfer to a airtight container and take it to the freezer for at least 2 hours to harden.

Soupe a l'oignon

French Onion Soup on a Bread Bowl

Baked, Main Course, Memory Lane

Versión en Español

The first time I had soup served inside of a bread bun was at the Fisherman’s Warf in San Francisco, at that time I had claim chowder, and I though it was great be able to eat everything, even the bowl.

My family says that my cousin Victor Manuel, was fond of this soup, and somwere in my memories I remember some restaurant’s ad with this soup served inside a bread loaf, so when I finally had the oportunity to do it that way, I couldn’t help myself and turned into something delicious.

The trick is isolate the liquid from the bread using cheese as a waterproof agent, so the bread holds shape and texture till the end of the service.

INGREDIENTS

2 lb medium onions, thinly sliced lengthwise
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 Bay leaves
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup dry white wine
4 cups low sodium beef broth
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
6 (7oz) small loaves of rounded thick crust french bread
1/2 lb sliced Gruyère cheese
1/2 lb sliced Emmental cheese
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

PREPARATION

Cook onions, thyme, bay leaves, and salt in butter in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, uncovered, stirring frequently, until onions are very soft and deep golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Stir in wine and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in broth, water, and pepper and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Cut a circle on the top of each bread loaf and remove most of the crumbs, arrange the slices of Emmental so it’s completely covered on the inside, and place it on the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, enough time to melt and cover the inside without burning it.

Remove bread from the oven and preheat the broiler, discard bay leaf and thyme from soup, fill the bread loafs with soup and cover it with the Gruyère slices allowing ends to hang over the bread, then sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Put the breads back on the oven and Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat until cheese is melted and bubbly, 1 to 2 minutes.

Roast Beef

Roast Beef

Easy to make, Healthy, Main Course

Spanish Version

Since 2012 I quit eating processed meats because those we’re hurting my stomach, however, I understand the need of the protein intake and the practicity of havering a protein source  available at any time, there is when the roas beef came into my life, this is a super easy recipe and ensures you a healthier protein source by being les processed, and very versatile as the herbs mixture that you rub the beef with.

INGREDIENTS

A pice of eye of round ( 5 to 6 lbs)
1 tablespoon of kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon of dried basil
Special equipment: Roasting pan, Meat Thermometer.

PREPARATION

Put the meat over the rack at the roasting pan and rub it with the salt and leave it resting for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 °F

Put the pepper, basil and thyme on a small bowl, mix it all together and sprinkle all over the beef.

Place it in the oven for at least 45 minutes until the meat temperature reach 140° F  to 145 °F for medium and to 150 °F to have it a little bit cooked, it’s very important not to overcook the beef because if can be very dry.

Once done leave it to rest and keep in the fridge, slice it every time you need it. It last up to one week in the fridge.

For a better duration every time that you used, drain the fluids.

Alioli

Dressings, Easy to make

Looking for healthy and flavorful options for my salads I found this very interesting recipe, the Alioli is an emulsion from the Provençal cuisine made out of garlic, olive oil and lemon juice, in some cases has egg yolk.

the Alioli, as the mayonnaise is an oil and water emulsion, Egg yolk can be used as an emulsifier and is generally used in making aioli today, However, mustard and garlic both have emulsion-producing properties and some variants (such as Catalan allioli) omit the egg.

This more will be eggless so it will be cholesterol free, and trans fatty acids free.

Ingredients
1 teaspoon of salt
4 garlic cloves
lemon juice from 1/4 of a lemon
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

You also are going to need a whisker and a mortar

In the mortar crush the garlic and the salt with the pistle until getting a smooth paste.
Transfer the paste to a non reactive bowl (a glas bowl)
Drizzle and whisk half of the olive oil until make the emulsion
Add the lemon juice and drizzle the remaining oil and keep whisking.

Serves 3/4 cup and last around one week refrigerated.

Gnocci with tomato sauce

Potato Gnocchi

Main Course, Pasta

Spanish Version

When I was 5 years old my mother took me to an Italian restaurant, that was the first contact with the gnocchi, a potato delight that has to be light as a feather and able to absorb the salsa, it’s a dish that require dedication so it can be appropriately delicate.

The origin is unknown, it can be tracked to the Romans age, the name may come from the words nocchio (wich means knot) or nocca (which means nuckle), both words may be used because are parts of the fabrication process that require make dough stripes, cut them and pass every piece over the fork and press it to shape it like a nuckle.

To make this recipe I found out that was very useful to use a ricer press, it makes a more loose purée and a lighter result.

 

INGREDIENTS

1 ½ pounds large white potatoes (such as Idaho)
1 extra large egg
1 ½ cups flour, plus more for the work surface
At least 1 tablespoon of sea salt for the cooking water

PREPARATION

Put the potatoes in a pot and cover with water about 2 inches above the top of the potatoes. Bring the potatoes to a gentle boil, until they are knife tender about 30-40 minutes.

Keep the skins from rupturing so the potatoes don’t absorb any water and don’t overcook them.

Let the potatoes cool a bit so that you can handle them. With a kitchen towel hold the hot potato and peel them.

Put the potatoes through a ricer while the potatoes are still hot.
Mashing the potatoes works in a pinch but the gnocchi won’t be as light.

Spread the riced potatoes on a cookie sheet or a flat baking pan in a single layer to cool and allow some of the moisture to evaporate when the riced potatoes are dried the lighter the dough will be.

Bring a big pot of very well-salted water to a boil.

Put the riced potatoes in a mound on a flat work surface. Create a well in the middle as a vulcano, crack the egg onto the work surface in the well. Beat the egg well.

Slowly start to incorporate riced potatoes with the eggs

When fully incorporated spread out the mixture and sprinkle some of the flour over the top, knead the flour into the potato mixture.

Repeat with another dusting of flour until the dough holds together and is smooth and soft.

Try to use as little flour as possible for light gnocchi.

Sprinkle some flour on the work surface so the dough doesn’t stick. Knead the dough to create a smooth dough ball and then cut that ball into 6 pieces

Flour the work surface again if necessary and roll each piece into a rope of 1/2 inch diameter and then cut the rope into ½ inch pieces.

The work surface must have enough flour so that the pieces don’t stick together.

Using the back of a fork press the piece over the tines with your thumb and press downwards to push the gnocchi off the fork.

You’ll create indentations from the tines on the back of the gnocchi and a concave indentation on the other side from the pressure of your thumb. The shape and texture to absorb the sauce.

Spread the gnocchi on a floured cookie sheet or flat baking pan as you make them.

Drop the gnocchi into the boiling water, gently stir to make sure they don’t stick together and gently boil the gnocchi until they rise to the top of the water.

Remove the gnocchi with a spider or mesh ladle and place them in the sauté pan with the sauce of your choice.

You can freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet or shallow baking pan. Make sure they not touching one another! When they’re frozen store them in a freezer bag. Boil them still frozen. They’ll take a little longer to cook.