Tag Archives: corn

Learning to Make Arepas

12 Oct

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Arepas are delicious corn cakes with origins in Colombia and Venezuela, and ever since I tried them at The Arepa Lady in Jackson Heights and at Caracas at Rockaway Beach, I wanted to learn to make them at home. So I met up with my friend Lizzette, who gave me some key pointers for making arepas.

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The first tip? Use this P.A.N. flour. I originally purchased another brand of arepa flour, or pre-cooked yellow cornmeal, and it was no good. I made some pretty sad arepas. P.A.N. or bust. I found the flour at a grocery store near my apartment, but if you can’t find the flour near you, it is available online.  Continue reading

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Cauliflower “Rice” Sauté: Food For the Summer-Fall Transition

25 Sep

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Making Cauliflower Pesto a few weeks ago turned me on to a whole world of cauliflower possibilities.

My post-pesto experiment? Rice! Or couscous, or whatever you want to call the small, fluffy tufts of pulsed, grated cauliflower.

The below links provided me with some background and technique on making grain-like cauliflower salads:

The Kitchn provides an easy how-to tutorial on cauliflower couscous

Food52 makes an easy spiced couscous with cumin, za’atar, and lemon

Joy the Baker turns colorful cauliflower  into a rice burrito bowl

The First Mess knows how to make a mean “rice and peas” with all of the best crunchy elements

Clearly, I wanted to be among those in the use-cauliflower-like-a-grain club. So, I picked out the biggest head of cauliflower at the farmer’s market and set to work.

An efficient person would likely use a food processor or blender to pulse the cauliflower into tiny pieces. I, on the other hand, used my box grater, justifying the mess I made all over the counter and the floor as a yearning for the old-fashioned and an excuse to exercise my arm and core muscles. To make less of a mess when grating my hand, try setting the box grater in a large bowl to catch fly-away cauliflower bits.

The cauliflower “rice” can be eaten raw, but I prefer it lightly sautéed.

Use the “rice” plain as a bed for a curry, or stir the “rice” into some seasonal vegetables and add-ins to create a full meal.

I cooked up some onion with zucchini, corn, and tomato, and mixed in the cauliflower “rice” with some chili powder, paprika, and my friend Amy’s uncle’s special Maryland spice blend (you can use something like Old Bay). Shave some Parmesan on top if you want. I took this for lunch every day this week, sometimes adding a little avocado or hummus on top to make things interesting.

Cauliflower is hot, hot, hot right now, as it should be. Jump on board.

Cauliflower “Rice” Sauté: Food For the Summer-Fall Transition

1/2 very large or 1 regular size head of cauliflower

1 tablespoon oil, olive or canola

1 small onion, chopped

1 small zucchini, chopped small

1/2 cup small tomatoes, sliced in half or quartered

1 ear corn, sliced off the cob

1 teaspoon each: chili powder, paprika, Old Bay

salt and pepper, to taste

optional: fresh grated Parmesan cheese and/or hot sauce

Wash the cauliflower and take off the stalk and leaves. Cut or tear the cauliflower into large florets. In batches, pulse the cauliflower florets until finely chopped and they look approximately the size of rice or couscous. **You can also use a box grater to grate the florets by hand. You should get about 4 cups, more or less. Set the “rice” aside.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the zucchini, corn, and tomatoes and sauté for another 5 minutes.

Slowly toss the cauliflower “rice” into the skillet with the spices. Continue cooking everything for another few minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Finish with Parmesan and/or hot sauce.

Stuffed Peppers With Quinoa, Feta & Summer Veggies

17 Jul

This weekend was filled with chicken sausages and potato salad.

This weekend was filled with a shared lunch at the Spotted Pig-the gargantuan burger with Roquefort cheese and shoestring fries, and the poached eggs with corned beef hash.

There was a cappuccino to be had at the new cafe around the corner from me, Kuro Kuma.

I wanted to squeeze in a meal at the new ramen joint nearby, Jin Ramen, but my belly just could not budge any further.

Sometimes you just have to sit back and indulge yourself. Hey, at least I was eating healthy breakfasts all weekend: I had oatmeal one day and a banana almond smoothie the next. With some plums and nectarines to fill in the gaps. So sweet and ripe, they tasted like honey!

I’m balancing things out today with loads of summer vegetables and a healthy bean and grain combo.

Holy smokes, people, do you know how good red bell peppers are for you?

Red bell peppers rank very high in Vitamin C content, with 140 mg of Vitamin C per 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper. That’s higher than orange juice (75mg per 3/4 cup), broccoli (50mg per 1/2 cup), and strawberries (50mg per 1/2 cup).

The red color in bell peppers comes from natural plant pigments in the carotenoid family (specifically lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin). Lycopene is a carotenoid and an antioxidant that helps the body reduce the risk for certain types of cancer, and heart disease, in addition to helping lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. It is also great for protecting the tissues in your body and strengthening your immune system.

I won’t get into any more technical terms, but red bell peppers and red tomatoes pack quite the punch. Not to mention how good zucchini and corn and onion are for you. And you can be sure that the ever touted holy grail of grains, quinoa, is a steal when it comes to your health.

Once upon a time I lived in a big cooperative-living house. 2 people would cook dinner five or six nights a week for the whole house (~60 people). Stuffed peppers was an ever popular dish that was guaranteed to please a hungry household. So versatile, you could fill these gems with any kind of grain/veg./protein combo and never get bored. I was drifting down memory lane tonight while enjoying my pepper, prepared my favorite way…

The feta cheese holds its shape nicely under the oven heat, but once you pop a cube in your mouth, it just melts on the tongue into salty savory bliss. And I love how the quinoa gets slightly crunchy on top after being in the oven. Ugh, so good.

Stuffed Peppers with quinoa, feta & summer veggies

adapted from SmittenKitchen

1 cup dry quinoa

bell peppers (I used 3 peppers, but still had some quinoa salad left over, which I was happy about)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 of a large onion, chopped

2 ears of corn, shaved off the cob

1-2 medium zucchini or summer squash

3 tablespoons tomato paste*** see note

1 cup halved cherry/grape tomatoes

1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

4 oz of feta, chopped

seasonings: salt, pepper, dry oregano (maybe 1/2 teaspoon), fresh basil (to taste)

1. Rinse the quinoa. Add the quinoa and 2 cups of water to a small pot or saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and let it go for about 12-15 minutes, until the quinoa is cooked (should be light and fluffy with all of the water absorbed). Set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Halve the bell peppers and take out the seeds and membrane (I like to keep the green stem for aesthetics). Line a baking sheet with parchment and place the pepper halves face up on the sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the peppers start to soften slightly. Take the peppers out of the oven and let them sit while you prepare the filling.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the onion, corn, and zucchini. Cook for about 5-8 minutes until the veggies start to soften slightly. Add some seasonings (salt, pepper, herbs) to taste.

4. Turn off the heat and add the tomatoes, chickpeas, and tomato paste to the veggie mixture. Add 2 cups of cooked quinoa to the mix (save the remaining quinoa for another use i.e. muffins?!). Toss in the feta cheese.

5. Fill the pepper halves with heaping amounts of the quinoa mixture. It is ok to have some leftover mixture for nibbling on later in the week. Bake the filled peppers for another 15  minutes. Enjoy!

***Note: Don’t you just hate opening up a can of tomato paste only to use a mere few tablespoons worth? Me, too. A great tip from registered dietitian Jackie Newgent is to freeze leftover tomato paste (wrap it in a cylinder in saran) and slice it off as needed. Preventing waste in the kitchen. Love it!


3 Bean Summer Salad With Corn, Tomato, Avocado, & Lime

28 May

A colorful healthy salad to ring in the summer. This salad was inspired by Cooking Light’s Summer Salad  slide show. I don’t own a grill, so I adapted the recipe to accommodate my NYC apartment lifestyle.

A delight on its own with some fresh ground pepper.

Perfect with feta (or cotija) stuffed into lightly fried corn tortilla tacos. Or simply pair the salad with tortilla chips for a crunchy appetizer or snack.

This also makes a nice little side dish to accompany some heart-healthy salmon (I purchased my salmon already grilled and cooked at Whole Foods).

3 Bean Summer Salad With Corn, Tomato, Avocado, & Lime

from CookingLight

makes 12 servings (serving size: 2/3 cup)

If you have a grill, you can grill your onion, corn, and jalepeno (click on the link to the Cooking Light recipe). If you do not have a grill, follow my directions below

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1 teaspoon salt, divided

1 jalapeno, minced

1/2 of a large onion

3 ears of corn, shucked from the cob

1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

1/3 cup lime juice

1 can pinto beans, no salt added, drained and rinsed

1 can black beans, no salt added, drained and rinsed

1 can kidney beans, no salt added, drained and rinsed

2 avocados, peeled and diced

olive oil, for sauteeing

Place the sliced tomato halves in a large bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, mix, and let this sit while you prepare the rest of the salad.

In a large saute pan, heat some olive oil. Add the onion and saute for about 5-7 minutes. Add the jalapeno and corn and saute for another 5-7 minutes.

Add  the corn mixture to the bowl of tomatoes and toss with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the beans, cilantro, lime juice, and avocado. Grind some fresh pepper over the top and enjoy.