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Ropa Vieja with Arepas Moving from Florida to Texas opens up a whole new world of barbeque and tex-mex, but we do miss the wonderful Cuban food from back at school. This classic dish of slow braised beef over masa arepas satisfies that craving and has become a regular on our recipe rotation. Cooking spray
2 (1-pound) flank steaks, trimmed or other cut of roast beef
3 cups thinly vertically sliced onion
2 cups red bell pepper strips (about 2 peppers)
2 cups green bell pepper strips (about 2 peppers)
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 tablespoons thinly sliced pitted green olives
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons sherry vinegar
3 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add 1 steak to pan; cook 2 1/2 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove steak from pan. Repeat procedure with cooking spray and remaining steak.

Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, bell peppers, and garlic to pan; cook 7 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in olives and next 5 ingredients (through black pepper); cook 30 seconds or until fragrant. Stir in vinegar, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook for 2 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Stir in broth, tomato paste, and bay leaves. Add steaks; bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 1 1/2 hours or until steaks are very tender. Discard bay leaves.

Remove steaks from pan; shred with two forks. Stir shredded beef and cilantro into pan.

original recipe

Arepas

1 1/4 cup white or yellow arepa flour (masarepa)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups hot water
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, for frying

Stir salt into arepa flour. Add hot water and mix well with a wooden spoon. Stir in the melted butter. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rest 15 minutes.Separate dough into four pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball.
Place each ball in between 2 sheets of plastic wrap or two ziplock bags and flatten gently with the bottom of a pot. Arepas should be about 4 inches in diameter and almost an ¾ inch thick. Use your fingers to smooth out any cracks along the edges.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in cast iron skillet on medium heat.
Cook arepas about 5 minutes on each side until a slightly brown crust forms. They should look like an english muffin. If they are browning too fast, lower the heat. Add more butter or oil for subsequent batches as needed.
Place arepas on a cookie sheet and heat for 10 minutes in the oven to finish cooking.


thincornbread_sm.jpgA light and crumbly cornbread with a full corn flavor. Very little sugar and no white flour, so my traditionalist southern dad would probably approve. A preheated cast-iron skillet is a must for a crispy crust.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups stone-ground cornmeal (or 1/2 coarse ground, 1/2 fine ground)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Grease a 12-inch skillet with one tablespoon of the oil, place it in the oven.

In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg until frothy and then whisk in the buttermilk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix thoroughly. Melt the remaining butter in a small skill (or your microwave) and whisk the butter into your batter.

While the fat in the large skillet is smoking, carefully remove the skillet from the oven and swirl the fat around to coat the bottom and sides evenly. Pour the batter into the skillet; it should sizzle. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the top of the bread is golden brown and the edge has pulled away from the side of the skillet. Remove from the oven and either serve hot, in six wedges, or let cool and reserve for Corn Bread Salad (above).

Original recipe


Crunchy cornbread mini-muffins topped with balsamic dressed tomatoes and creamy ricotta, these little mini tartlets make elegant appetizers for a fancy party. Don't be fooled by the long list of instructions, these actually come together very quickly.

½ cup yellow cornmeal
½ cup all-purpose four
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 cups red and yellow tomatoes or cherry tomaotes, halved, seeded, 1/4-inch dice
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped basil (or fresh oregano)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
Salt and ground pepper
¾ cup whole milk ricotta cheese
Basil thinly sliced for garnish.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Butter two 12-cup mini-muffin pans.
In a medium bowl, whisk the cornmeal with the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl, whisk the milk with the egg and melted butter.
Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Do not over mix.
Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling them halfway. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn out to cool completely.
After dicing the tomatoes, wrap in paper towels to absorb the moisture.
In a medium bowl, toss the tomatoes with the garlic, Parmesan, basil, vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, season the ricotta with salt and pepper.
Using a small serrated knife, slice off the domed tops of the muffins. Slice off a small part of the rounded dome to make a stable base, if necessary
Top the cut side of the muffins with the ricotta, about a teaspoon of the tomato mixture and garnish with the thinly sliced basil.

Makes 2 Dozen Tartlets
Original recipe

poblano_sm.jpgA bit complex to put together, but the smoky rich flavors are well worth it.

1 large tomato or 4 plum tomatoes (about 3/4 pound)
6 medium fresh poblano peppers
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
2 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
 Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
Cheese Grits:
2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste
1 cup stone-ground yellow grits (or yellow cornmeal for quick-cook)
1 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup grated cheddar or pepper jack cheese (about 3 ounces)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
Grits:
Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Stir in the salt. Add the grits in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly.

Reduce the heat to medium low, and cook the grits, stirring frequently, for 40 to 45 minutes (5 minutes for cornmeal), until they are thick-soupy and the grains are tender to the bite. Stir in the milk and corn kernels, and cook for about 2 minutes to warm the corn.

Remove the grits from the heat, stir in the butter,cheese and pepper, and continue to stir until butter and cheese are melted. Season to taste.

Vegetables:
Core the tomato with a sharp paring knife. Arrange the tomato, pepper, onion, and garlic in a 9-x-13-inch roasting pan, with the peppers gathered at one end. Brush all the vegetables with the olive oil, and sprinkle them with salt. Slide the pan under the broiler (about 3 inches from the flame or heating element), with the peppers nearest you; you'll be turning them frequently as they roast. Turn the peppers every 3 minutes until their skins are blistered and blackened all over, about 9 minutes total. Transfer the peppers to a large bowl. Transfer the tomato, onion, and garlic to a medium bowl, and let them cool. Set aside the roasting pan.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Assembly:
When the peppers are cool enough to handle, gently massage their skins to remove them and discard. Cut a 3-inch slit down the side of each pepper and gently spoon out the seeds and any whitish, fibrous veins. Fill each pepper with 1/2 cup cheese grits, and place in the roasting pan.

When the tomato, onion and garlic have cooled, remove the skins from the tomato and garlic. Process the tomato, onion and garlic in a blender or food processor, about 30 seconds. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the peppers.

Bake the peppers on the middle rack until the tomato sauce bubbles gently, about 15 minutes. Scatter the cheese on top, and place the pan under the broiler about 2 inches from the flame or heating element until the cheese has browned.

Original recipe

This Southwest vegetarian dish is a nice change from the usual Asian tofu recipes

1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 cup milk
1 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
1 tablespoon grated lime zest
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Slice the tofu widthwise into eight slices, the cut each of those slices in half diagonally- from the upper left corner to the lower right corner-so that you have sixteen long triangles. Set aside. Combine the soy milk and cornstarch in a wide, shallow bowl. Mix vigorously with a fork until the cornstarch is mostly dissolved. In another shallow bowl, toss together the cornmeal, spices, lime zest, and salt.

Dip each individual tofu slice in the milk mixture. Drop it into the cornmeal with your dry hand and use your other hand to dredge it in the mixture, so that it's coated on all sides.

Frying directions:
Heat about 1/4 inch oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. To test if the oil is ready, sprinkle in a pinch of batter. When the batter sizzles and bubbles form rapidly around it, you're good to go. Transfer the tofu to the skillet in two batches so as not to crowd the pan. Fry tofu for 3 minutes on one side, use tongs to flip over each piece, and fry for two more minutes. Drain the fried tofu on a clean paper bag or paper towels.

Baking directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Place the coated tofu on the baking sheet in a single layer. Spray with oil until lightly coated. Flip over and spray the other side. Bake for 12 minutes on each side.

Original recipe
Hearty multi-grain pancakes, best with real maple syrup and fresh fruit.

1 c. whole wheat flour
¾ c. flour
1/3 c. cornmeal
¼ c. rolled oats
2 tbs. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
1 ¾ c. milk
4 tbs. butter, melted
¼ c. honey
3 large eggs
Heat skillet or griddle over low heat.
Whisk together dry ingredients in large bowl.
Whisk together wet ingredients in another bowl.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients & whisk until just mixed.
Increase heat to medium & brush skillet with oil. Pour batter, about ¼ c. at a time

From: Joy of Cooking