Breakfast arepas with egg and avocado

November 3, 2012 § 21 Comments

When I came up with the idea of making breakfast arepas, I felt extremely innovative.

I was first introduced to arepas several years ago in Boston by a friend of mine who excels in the sniffing-out-cheap-but-good-street-food department.  I enjoyed the golden cheese-filled corn cakes a lot – it’s hard not to like warm cheesy corny stuff – but they didn’t excite me to the degree many other street foods (did somebody say kimchi tacos?) do.

Why?  Probably because, for unknown reasons and a shameful lack of imagination on this front, it took me until just days ago to realize that you could stuff an arepa with more than just cheese or cheese and beans.  So much more!

A few days ago, I saw an image of arepas filled with avocado, pork, and salsa, and my immediate thought, because there are few things on this planet I love more than avocado + egg for breakfast, was “arepas filled with avocado and fried eggs!  ImustmakethisandeatitNOW!!!!”  And I felt very clever for having such a unique idea.

Then, last night I was texting with my brother who lives in Manhattan (he has power back!  Yay!  I hope everyone else still without power also has it restored ever so quickly!) who had written to me to tell me that I really needed to try making a bourbon and maple syrup milkshake.  (Um, yes, clearly I do.)  Somehow it came up that he had eaten an arepa for dinner, and I told him excitedly, “guess what! I’m making breakfast arepas tomorrow morning!” « Read the rest of this entry »

Israeli couscous with butternut squash and cilantro sauce

January 6, 2012 § 26 Comments

Let’s take a moment to reflect on couscous, shall we?  My family, as I recall, seems to have discovered couscous some time part of the way through my tenure in high school.  I don’t know how my mother stumbled on it or decided to purchase it, all I remember is that she served it for the first time for supper one day (alongside pork tenderloin and acorn squash if my memory serves me correctly, which it tends to when it comes to meals), and it felt like the epitome of novelty.

I was certain we were eating something flashy, exotic, new, the food equivalent of getting the first version of the iphone, right when it came out.  And this fit in lockstep with my budding epicurean ideals – which back in high school, I’ll admit, were more about the appearance of sophistication and taste than anything else.  High school.  Jeez.

Back then we just ate the Middle East brand couscous with the spice packet mixed in.  That was fancy enough for us.  (to extend the iphone metaphor: my phone gets internet!!!  Oh my gosh!  It totally doesn’t matter that it can’t seem to actually make phone calls most of the time…)  But, as couscous has completely mainstreamed, I think most of us have come to expect a little more in the preparation of this tiny noodle. « Read the rest of this entry »

Corn Soup with Avocado Cilantro and Lime

August 27, 2010 § 6 Comments

I’m trying to think of similes for sweet corn, and oddly, I keep coming up with sort of scary violent images – the ticking time bomb, the radioactively decaying, the unstable isotope of the food world.  Which is funny because, in my experience at least, sweet corn is a pretty peaceable non-intimidating substance, except maybe for its annoying habit of leaving bits of skin wedged so firmly between your teeth you pull a muscle in your tongue trying to dislodge it (floss is for sissies).  But, the thing with corn is, the moment you pick it, the sugars in its kernel begin converting to starches instead.  Like a lollipop gradually shape-shifting into a raw potato.  And very few people want to suck on a raw potato.  So, eating sweet corn pits you in a race against time.  Can you buy it and eat it close enough to the time it was picked to ensure that perfect, transcendent experience of munching summer, right off the cob?  (As Garrison Keilor has said, “sex is good, but not as good as fresh sweet corn.”)

When you buy farmer’s market corn during peak season, it would be a shame to doctor it more than lightly boiling or grilling it and adding a bit of butter and salt (and in case you’re looking, the very best sample of this in the whole world is the corn on the cob at the Minnesota State Fair, though I hear the title is being challenged by elotes, the street corn in Mexico.  However, this has a squirt of lime, red chile sauce, and some crumbled cheese on it, which is obviously sacrilege, or at least kind of cheating,  because even a cardboard tube would taste good with those things on it, and we’re trying to highlight the corn here, right?)

Of course if, say, you pick up your load of newly picked sweet corn and then promptly up and leave for 10 days, off to somewhere on the entirely opposite side of the country, when you come back you may find your corn more than a little in need of a pick me up.  At least, ours was.  I feel like corn has sort of three ages and stages of cooking potential (not counting garbage/compost pile).  First is the corn on the cob stage.  That one’s easy. A couple days past this, when the corn kernels are still pretty sweet but losing a little of their plump juiciness it enters the stage of “cut off the cob and add to something like a salad or pasta, incorporate into the batter of fritters, flapjacks, or corn bread, or (my personal favorite) sautee with other summer vegetables (like summer squash, tomatoes, beans) and herbs”.  Stage three, when the kernels have gone a bit mealy, is soup.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Enchiladas de Pollo, or “that Mexican lasagne”

January 13, 2010 § 2 Comments

Sometimes as a result of my general lack of planning in procuring groceries, followed by a lack of meal planning until suppertime is near at hand, I find myself stuck in kind of an improvisatory cooking rut.  It looks a little something like this.  Emily’s One-pot Wonders: chop and sautee meat remove from pan (or open can of legumes); chop and sautee onions and garlic until soft, add random chopped vegetables and cook until beginning to be tender; add a blend of Italian spices or Moroccan spices or Latin American spices or Indian spices or just salt and pepper; add back meat; throw in a can of tomatoes; simmer; eat.  All things considered it’s not bad at all (sometimes it’s even downright tasty!).  But, after doing this for a certain period of time, I find it does start to get old.  At that point, Emily-with-slightly-higher-expectations has to take rather-lazy-Emily by the shoulders and give her a good shake, and say something like, “you are a lazy ass!  I think, at least I hope, you can handle getting 2 pots dirty.  Try making something that requires at least a teensy weensy bit of foresight, for heaven sakes!”

And, usually I listen.  This enchilada recipe is one of my most recent forays back into the world of cooking what might actually deserve the term a dish. It’s a recipe I originally got from a couple of friends back in college.  It was so ooey-gooey-cheesy delicious, it quickly became a frequent guest at our dinner table and generally led to fights over who got to have the leftovers for lunch.  I stopped making it because it somehow in my mind transformed into one of those recipes that just has too many steps that you don’t want to bother with – which is strange because it doesn’t!  I think maybe the problem was I remembered the way the original recipe called for you to dip each individual tortilla into the sauce and shake it off before filling it, which led to catastrophic messes in the kitchen.  But, this step is totally unnecessary if you just coat the bottom of the pan with sauce and then pour the rest over the top. « Read the rest of this entry »

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with Latin American at Five And Spice.