Arepa. It’s a cute little word for a mainstay food that dominates the world of Venezuela. At least, that is the case for this kind of arepa. They are fat corn cakes made from maize meal, pan fried, baked and then gobbled up for breakfast, lunch or dinner. From that description, they hopefully sound like something you want to eat right now. In light of an upcoming Meatless Monday, here is a dish that happens to be delightfully vegetarian and gluten free. It is also easy to prepare, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
A day doesn’t go by when Emily and I don’t talk about food. As a colleague of mine, we always find time in the work day to recount last night’s sensational meal, share a new must-try recipe, or muse over tomorrow’s dinner. It was clearly a “no-brainer” for her to share her culinary passions with you as our next guest blogger in our Test Kitchen series. And for the first time, I’m happy to say I actually got to taste a Guest Test Kitchen creation. Emily brought me a sample of this delightful salad to work, of which I gobbled down in less than 2 minutes later that evening after a strenuous workout. I am sorry that Chrystal missed out on this one, especially knowing how much she adores sweet potatoes. Like her, you’ll just have to whip it together for yourself. You’ll be glad you did! Here’s Emily with more…
If you dig around your fridge or pantry pretty hard, you’ll probably find an ingredient in there that you may have forgotten. It happens, so don’t be ashamed. Because we play around with different things, this happens more often than not. Occasionally there’s a recipe that only calls for a dash of some obscure additive, and you spend a few days wondering how to use it again. Well, the first time we featured pomegranate molasses on the website, it was included in a dip called muhammara. After that, the bottle sat untouched. Now it’s back! This recipe allows you to use more than just a teaspoon of pomegranate molasses to complete the meal. In fact, it’s the key ingredient. Now you have no excuse not to add this item to your next shopping list. You’ll be surprised that one little bottle can kick off a true meal.
Here’s another Guest Test Kitchen for ya! This month, our dear friend James shares one of his favorite recipes and cooking inspirations. He shows how your favorite recipe can be jazzed up or tweaked to fit any occasion and season, and how sexy a simple squash salad can be. This dish would be a fabulous contribution to any summer meal gathering. Plus, it’s vegetarian so everyone can love it. Enjoy!
Have you ever stumbled upon something after a long break, and it feels like new the second you come across it again? Maybe it’s a piece of jewelry you pulled out of the drawer one day, and even though it’s three years old, you’re getting compliments as if you just bought it the day before. Perhaps it’s your alma mater t-shirt that was buried in the closet from years ago, so you pull it out and wear it proudly as if you’re reliving the moment (provided it still fits!). Sometimes it’s something as simple as plum sauce. That’s right. Plum sauce. We know you have all poked around your fridge and found a bottle of something that you forgot existed, and as soon as your fingertips grace the shape of the vessel, you’re too excited to figure out how it’ll be used. Will it be a marinade? How about a dipping sauce? What about a basting sauce? Endless possibilities!
Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto. You can interpret the lyrics of this old song as literally or figuratively as you like, but today, we’ll go with the latter. What makes guacamole guacamole? This dip was taken to a potluck dinner party during the dead of fall. If someone asked what it was, one could easily have said ‘Avocado dip’. And that is what was said. Funny enough, someone said ‘You make a good guacamole for someone from the East coast.’ The fact that East coasters may or may not be able to make guacamole is a side issue, and if anyone wants to chime in on that one, they are welcome. The funny part was that he called this guacamole. This is in no way to call him out, but it does raise an interesting question about how people classify what a dish is and what it definitely is not. In our opinion, this is a dip all the way, but what if it had been chunkier and studded with tomatoes (tomahtoes, if you prefer) and onions? What would you call it then?
Empanadas, empanadas, empanadas. Just saying the word makes the mouth water, no? The stuffed bread pastries have a long cultural history across the world, and you’ll find variations in the name and fillings in Latin, Asian and Caribbean countries everywhere. They can be savory and spicy, sweet and flakey, baked or fried, square or crescent-shaped. Although there are similarities in their basic construction, the differences between each one make them stand out as all their own. After reading a NY Times article about Chilean style empanadas, it was clear that we had to give this version a try.
Have you ever added spice to something with slight trepidation in your heart? Gently shaking ground cayenne pepper on chicken cutlets or lightly tossing extra sriracha into a steaming wok of fried noodles, all the while afraid that the outcome may be too hot to handle. We like kick in our food, but we have accidentally added a bit too much, and once it’s in there, it’s hard to cut. Call us wimps if you like, but we just can’t handle it. We try to ride the line between spicy tingle and burnin’ ring ‘o fire mouth. Although we both come from a line of folks who like to toss on those ‘kick your a$$ to high heaven’ or ‘not for wussy wimps’ hot sauces, we just haven’t been able to work our way up to sweating while we’re eating. It’s not our style. We hit the kitchen with a desire for something that would ride the line without sitting too far on either side–not too bland and definitely not overwhelming.