This weekend, the spouse and I went to the large outdoor market in the city, established in what used to be a core industrial area by the river. It is now a collection of public markets, ethnic grocery stores, breweries, restaurants and food carts. You can walk down the sidewalk with Turkish coffee in one hand and fresh focaccia in the other, watching people buying wool hats, eating shish kebabs, dancing to the beats of their favorite football song and taking pictures, all on the snow covered streets!
Each time we go there, I discover a new store- this time it was the Latino grocery, where they were making fresh tortillas on a quaint contraption right in the middle of the store. We came back with masarepa (which is different from masa harina), aji amarillo paste and fresh made chilli cheese tamales. And then there was Penzey’s, with its goodly supply of green and red peppercorns.
A cooking frenzy followed.
For dinner that night, I heated up the tamales and served them with a salad adapted from Viva Vegan’s excellent quinoa spinach salad with roasted peanuts.
Quinoa Corn salad with Aji Amarillo dressing
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 cups water
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp dark olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp aji paste
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 a red onion, finely chopped
1/2 lb spring mix/spinach
1 cup corn kernels, lightly toasted in a pan
1 tomato, diced
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
– In a large saucepan, dry roast the quinoa for about 5 minutes. Add the water, bring to boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer until all the water is absorbed. (About 15 minutes.) Let it cool and fluff with a fork.
– Stir together the lime juice, olive oil, vinegar, oregano, aji paste, salt and onion. Let it sit while the quinoa is cooling. Mix everything together and serve.
The salad was good, with that little bite from the yellow peppers and enough protein to offset the carbfest going on the side.
And then the next morning, arepas!
They taste a lot like tamales, with melting cheese in each bite and a LOT less work. I made a quick salsa to go along- one large tomato, some cilantro, a hot green chili pepper, lime juice, salt and cumin quickly processed in the blender.
Corn and Cheese Arepas
1 cup masarepa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 small serrano pepper, minced,
2 tablespoons oil (I used canola)
– Warm the milk and butter in the microwave for 1 minute.
– Add the milk-butter mixture to the blender along with the corn. Process briefly. Then add the chilli pepper and cilantro and process again, until you get a coarse mush.
– In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal, salt and cheese. The add the liquids and combine into a thick batter. Let it rest for fifteen minutes- the masarepa will absorb the liquids and the batter will become a soft dough.
– Divide the mixture into 8 balls. Flatten each ball with palms of your hand to a 1/2 inch thick disk.
– Heat oil in a cast iron skillet and cook the arepas in batches of two/three, about 3 minutes on each side. They should lose the tranluscency and get a few char marks.
– Serve hot with fresh made salsa and sour cream.
Next up, fennel soup with green peppercorns.