Friday, June 30, 2017


It was while vacationing in Puerto Rico where I fell in love with arepas.  In Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Columbia, they call them arepas.  In the south, a similar version is called "hot water corn bread." The main difference is the type of corn flour used.  Arepas are made using the special precooked corn flour called Masa Harina used to make corn tortillas, but have a milder corn flavor than tortillas or tamales.  I was told I had to go to a Latino market to find the flour, but my neighborhood supermarket carries it.
Crispy on the outside with a soft and creamy center, arepas are scrumptious slathered with butter or cream cheese for breakfast or as a substitute for bread at any meal.  When made thicker, you can slice it through the center like a bread bun, but not cutting all the way through, and then filling each arepa with your preferred meat or cheese combination.  It is a truly magnificent delivery system for any number of your favorite fillings.  Grace was so happy to hear that I was posting arepas to the blog until she learned that I was using photos from the last time I made them.  Maybe I'll surprise her and have a plateful waiting after I finish writing this month's entry.

§     2 cups warm water
§     1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more to fry arepas
§     1 teaspoon table salt
§     2 cups Masa Harina (pre cooked corn flour)

In a large bowl, stir together 2 cups warm water with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and salt until salt dissolves. 

To avoid lumps, mix continuously while gradually adding the masa harina. 

Continue to mix for one minute to give the masa harina the chance to absorb the liquid.

The dough should hold together when pressed.  If the dough is dry, add water, one tablespoon at a time.   Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap to allow the dough to rest for at least 10 minutes.  Divide the dough into 6 or 8 pieces and shape each piece into a 1/2 inch thick disc.  I prefer to make the arepas larger when I am using them for sandwiches. 

I use the larger arepas for sandwiches.  Heat 1/4 inch oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat.

Fry each disc until golden brown and crispy.

Serve warm.  For a printer friendly copy of this recipe go to Arepas  Enjoy!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Summer Corn Chowder

I know what you’re saying…."Another soup, Rhonda?"  There is nothing like a good soup for a quick dinner when you’re tired of eating fast food or at random restaurants.  So I make sure my freezer has plenty of plastic freezer bags filled with a variety of soups.  In the past I would freeze soup in plastic containers, but they make the freezer fill up pretty fast.  Lately, I freeze single or double servings in plastic freezer bags and stack them in a pile.  This has revolutionized my freezer capacity.

You can’t open a magazine this year without seeing a recipe with Turmeric.  I discovered this spice several years ago when I was developing this recipe for Summer Corn Chowder. Turmeric not only adds a delicious citrusy flavor but also adds a vibrant color.  I had forgotten about this recipe until I visited one of my go to soup and sandwich restaurants recently and saw Summer Corn Chowder on the menu.  Mine is slightly different from theirs, but in all honesty, I believe it’s better.

§     3 tablespoons unsalted butter
§     1 tablespoon olive oil
§     1 large onion, diced
§     4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
§     5 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
§     2 large russet potatoes, diced
§     4 cups corn (fresh or frozen)
§     1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
§     1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
§     1 can petite diced tomatoes (or 2 ripe plum tomatoes, diced)
§     1 – 2 teaspoons turmeric
§     1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
§     1 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
§     1/4 – 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
§     1/4 – 1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley
§     1/2 – 1 cup finely ground corn chips or dried corn tortillas (this will thicken the soup and add flavor)
§     Salt and pepper (a soup with this many vegetables and potatoes requires a good amount of salt.  Be sure to add at least 1 tablespoon or more)

In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, add the butter and oil and cook until butter melts.  Add the chopped onions and sauté, stirring occasionally until soft and translucent.  Stir in flour and cook, stirring for about 2 – 3 minutes to cook out the raw taste of the flour but not long enough to brown the flour. 
Pour in 5 cups of broth and whisk constantly until the soup begins to thicken. 
Reduce the heat and add the diced potatoes.  Allow the soup to simmer for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender. 
Add the corn, red and green bell peppers, tomatoes, turmeric, cayenne pepper, half-and-half, cilantro, parsley, salt and pepper.
In a food processor, chop dried corn tortillas or corn chips until finely ground.  
In a cup, combine the 1/4 or 1/2 cup of ground dried corn tortillas or tortilla chips with the cream/half-and-half and mix with a fork.  While stirring the soup, add the mixture of corn tortilla and cream.  This will thicken the soup and add a delicious flavor.  To control the thickness, add more broth if desired.  I typically add 1/2 cup as I like my soup thicker. 
Cook the soup for approximately 20 minutes allowing the flavors to marry. 
This soup can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for several months.  For a printer friendly copy of this recipe go to Summer Corn Chowder. Enjoy!