Back to Basics.

You notice at a glance, the joy on people’s faces as you walk on the streets of my country. The triumph of democracy, the people finally left fear behind and they helped us, we who year after year worked very hard without fear to restore the path of progress, law and freedom in this beautiful country. THANKS MY DEAR LORD
But 17 years of destruction do not end so simply, the damage was immense, at all levels so the crisis will continue for a while, but there is a whole people who learned from their mistakes and will work to get ahead.
Our recipe is only instructions more than a traditional recipe with a list o ingredienta an instruccion, as traditional precooked corn flour to make our Venezuelan arepa bread is not available in the markets, I, like many others chose to buy maize and work the way my beloved grandmother Ramona worked the maize to make flour or dough long ago, she used to mill or pound  corn or rice with a huge log mortar and wooden pestle that is called Pilón in my country, thanks to the few producers who refused to disappear I buy corn (white or yellow corn) that is ready to use.
So I just have to clean it of any pebble or other object, wash it and let it rest in clean water overnight. The next morning, I cook the corn in clean water until soft but not too soft (it would be difficult to handle the dough), then I grind the corn it should be smooth.
The texture of the dough is just like the commercial flour, if you take a ball of dough in your hands and press it to flatten and edges cracks  you have to add a little water and knead until smooth, then you add salt to taste and make your arepas, place them on a Budare (a griddle) I have a budare but used a frying pan  with lid instead, brushed it with oil and place the arepas and cover with the lid, cook the arepas on both sides (called faces) on slow  to medium heat, to test if one side is already cooked with care not to burn and not distort the arepa  grab it with a clean  kitchen towel and lift it with a knife then  tap with your fingers, it has to sound hollow, if so, turn and cook the arepa on the other side doing the same test to see if it is fully cooked. DO NOT OVER COOK; remember the corn is already cooked, they may become dry
I always like to stuff my arepa with grated fresh cheese, but the stuffing is whatever you want
And remember Arepas are Venezuelan and we are proud that it has become a favorite around the world


A Different Pumpkin or…
Taking the Bull by the Horns

Cooking in Venezuela today, is not easy, believe me ….. But a challenge to serve a dish that is at least tasty and nutritious that might be very cheap in other countries but here, it is very expensive here, Can you believe that 250 grams of cheese costs 400 BsF (400.000 Bs they took out three ceros so people could handle those amounts…)
Well, when I was cooking yesterday, I thought fried chicken, yellow rice and plantain were not enough and I decided to add pumpkin…boiled pumpkin maybe with butter and white cheese, traditional but ugh! So I took what I had at home and made this and to be honest it is so good and easy to make that I will not go for traditional pumpkin style again …nope
You may not know that I am celiac (although I still cook with gluten for others :’( ), and I had to make a béchamel or white sauce for this dish so I could not go for the one part butter, one part flour ratio (for a cup of milk one tablespoon butter and one tablespoon wheat flour) so what I did was using corn starch instead of wheat flour and used a very different technique, not the traditional roux, I like this method better because it is less work and the texture of the sauce is very smooth and silky. Corn starch is not as strong as wheat flour so I had to change the proportion according to my needs; I wanted a lighter sauce because I was adding cheese …


1 cup milk plus three tablespoons, room temperature
3 Tablespoons corn starch
1 tablespoon butter
200 grams of muenster cheese, cut in very small cubes
A pinch o grated nutmeg
A pinch of smoked paprika
A pinch of grated black pepper
Boiled pumpkin (not too soft)
1-      Heat the cup of milk plus butter.
2-      In a small bowl add  the rest of the milk and the corn starch stir well and add  to the milk butter mixture stir constantly until it thickens
3-      Then add the cheese and keep stirring until t is melted
4-      Add the pinch o nutmeg or to taste stir well
5-      Place the pumpkin in a tray and add the cheese sauce on top the sprinkle the paprika and pepper on top and bake with broiler function

Note:  I could have added grated parmesan cheese on top but Can you believe no one is selling it  in my town?, I added chopped cheese on top … didn’t like how it looks hehehehe