It’s very likely that everyone has tried to bake something before a big party but failed miserably. You might have failed because you misread the directions or maybe you tried some of the same old American foods, which ended up burning. Well, you’re in luck because I am here to help you make something better, give you guys a quick and easy recipe for corn bread with cheese, as we say in Spanish “arepas con queso.” Even college students will love and be able to easily follow the instructions. Let me give you a little history: arepas originated in South America, more specifically in Colombia and Venezuela and are eaten there at every meal. The small fluffy corn cakes are made from maize flour and cooked over the stove. They also can be cooked in an aluminum plate (Colombia) or lightly fried and baked (Venezuela), whatever you prefer. Arepas can be great for parties or any special occasion with your friends, college roommates, or anyone you know who has never tried them before. So, hopefully you are ready, because making this dish will be fun and very creative.
1. Mix the ingredients while kneading the dough
In order to get started place one cup of maize flour in a large mixing bowl. I use corn flour called toti masa or Maseca (a flour made in Mexico). You can buy maize flour that has been pre-cooked, such as Harina P.A.N., the classic flour used in Venezuela or any kind of flavor you want the flour to have. The flour is full of gluten and preservative free and comes in both white and yellow. Add ½ cups of water with ½ Teaspoon salt for your flour and then add the following ingredients ¼ cup of cheese, 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon milk. Measure warm water and slowly pour it over the flour.
After mixing both flour and ingredients use your fingers or a whisk to thoroughly combine the ingredients; remember to wash hands if you use your fingers. If maize flour isn't available in your area, you can make it using your own regular flour and combine it with fine-ground cornmeal flavor or flour, but make sure it is pre-cooked. Use your hands to knead the flour and water together to create really soft, pliable dough, and continue kneading until the dough has no more grainy lumps and can be rolled into a ball without falling apart. If the dough seems too wet, add a few tablespoons of flour and continue kneading.
2. Shape the arepas
Take a handful of dough in your hands and shape it into a ball, then press it with your palms to form a large patty shape. This should be about 1/2 inch thick and 3 or 4 inches across, depending on how large you want your arepas to be. Keep rolling and forming each piece of dough remember to use a bit to create multiple arepas. Now open the dough and place the ingredients inside.This can include mozzarella cheese or whatever else you want to add like black beans, crumbled cheese, ham and cheese, or scrambled eggs, whatever comes to mind. Close the arepa in half and seal the edges real tight.
3. Finally, cooking time
For the final step use any kind of traditional wire rack, which holds the arepas about 2.5 cm above the heating element on the stove, to cook them the Colombian way. But traditionally we often use a frying pan or flat griddle. Never forget to add oil first so it won’t stick; when the oil is hot, place a few arepas in the pan and let them fry until a crust form on each side, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip them over and fry on the other side until a golden-brown crust is formed. Set them on a baking sheet and finish frying the remaining arepas. Once you finish frying - BOOM you’re done. You have created an entire stack of arepas, which makes a delicious meal.
Hopefully this article inspires you to make arepas (corn bread with cheese). This is something you can make for parties, or as a quick snack or meal to fill your hungry stomach. Your taste buds will want to make you eat more, as they are irresistible and delicious. Never be afraid to try something new, as it is always important to educate yourself about some traditional foods from different countries.