A Year Of... interesting things

Chicken Arepas - Colombian Flatbread Sandwiches

Arepas and their Salvadorean cousins pupusas are a type of round, flatbread made from corn meal or maize flour and it’s featured prominently in the cuisines of Colombia and Venezuela, to the point where some Colombian regions it accompanies all meals of the day.

Arepas 2.jpg
By Popo le Chien - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

It can be used in multiple ways, but one common approach is to slice it in half and use the two slices instead of sandwich bread.

The recipe I made comes from Cooking Light Global Kitchen: The World’s Most Delicious Food Made Easy and uses stuffed arepas.

Chicken Arepas


Hands-on time: 30 minutes, total 54. (yeah of course it took me longer than that)

I suggest this Serious Eats recipe for arepas instead of the one included here; I didn’t like the way my arepas turned out - I think the recipe adds too much water.

The filling was pretty delicious, though.


  • 15 ounces (1 1/2 cups) yellow arepa flour (masarepa, such as P.A.N.)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced seeded jalapeño pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups chopped leftover cooked turkey breast (I used chicken)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup (3 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp white cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.
    Combine flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt; stir well.
    Add 2 cups hot water (too much I think); stir until well combined and smooth.
    Let stand 10 minutes.
    Divide dough into 12 equal portions, shaping each into a ball. (Dough should be moist.)
    Working with 1 portion at a time, roll each portion into a 3-inch circle (about 1/2 inch thick).
  3. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
    Add 6 arepas to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side (took me more like 5) or until browned and crisp.
    Place on a baking sheet.
    Repeat procedure with 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and remaining arepas.
    Bake at 400F for 20 minutes or until arepas sound hollow when lightly tapped.
  4. While arepas bake, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
    Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat.
    Add onion and bell pepper; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Add jalapeño, cumin seeds, and garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, turkey, cilantro, and black pepper; cook 1 minute.
    Remove from heat; stir in cheese.
  5. Remove arepas from oven; let stand 2 minutes.
    Cut a 3-inch pocket in the side of each arepa; spoon turkey mixture into arepas.

Serves 6 - serving size: 2 filled arepas. (I ate 3 by myself)

Nutritional info:

  • calories 282;
  • fat 10.4g (sat 3g, mono 3.3g, poly 2.3g);
  • protein 20.8g;
  • Carbs 26.5g;
  • Fiber 4.8g;
  • Cholesterol 42mg;
  • Iron 3mg; Sodium 547mg; Calcium 162mg

Ecuadorian Potato and Cheese Patties (Llapingachos Ecuatorianos)

Llapingachos are cheese-stuffed fried potato cakes/patties that originated in Ecuador.

They are similar to arepas - a Colombian specialty - and they are quite easy to make all while being a delicious dish.

While they are usually served with peanut sauce, they can be just as well accompanied by chorizo, onion and tomato salad (pickled onions in particular), avocado slices, or aji criollo aka Ecuadorian hot sauce.

The version I made was served with a simple cubed tomato and julienne onion salad, with a bit of jalapenos thrown in to combat the sweetness of the potatoes and cheese.

Ecuadorian Potato and Cheese Patties

After making it I see it as a basic for continuous improvements and I already have a couple of these “improvements” in mind:

  • adding crumbled bacon
  • using both regular and purple potatoes in the making
  • adding various spices (curry?! OMG!!)
  • adding other vegetables - maybe zucchini?
  • definitely trying it with peanut sauce and with aji criollo


The recipe comes from the Cooking Light Global Kitchen: The World’s Most Delicious Food Made Easy book, but I also would recommend Laylita’s version which mentions adding a fried egg.

Serves 6 (barely 4 if you have other things on the table).

Supposedly takes about 20 minutes on hands-on time, total 65.

It took me about 30 - these numbers must come from either skilled chefs or somebody who’s done all the cutting and measuring before hand. I think mashing the potatoes alone took me 10 minutes.


  • 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 2 medium baking potatoes (about 11/4 pounds), peeled and quartered
  • 11/2 ounces shredded queso fresco or Monterey Jack cheese (about 6 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons minced green onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup diced tomato
  • 1/2 cup julienne-cut red onion


  1. Place 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and potatoes in a saucepan, and cover with water.
    Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until tender.
    Drain, and mash with a potato masher until smooth.
  2. Add cheese, green onions, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to potato mixture, stirring well.
    Divide potato mixture into 6 balls (about 1/2 cup per ball).
    Flatten balls into h-inch-thick patties (about 3-inch diameter).
    Place on a baking sheet; cover and refrigerate 20 minutes or until firm.
  3. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
    Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. (don’t - just do it without oil in a *hot non-stick pan or griddle because it helps maintain the integrity of the patty*) Place patties in pan; cook 5 minutes or until bottoms are browned.
    Turn patties; cook 3 minutes.
  4. Top patties with tomato and red onion.

Serves 6 (serving size: 1 patty, 2 tablespoons tomato, and 4 teaspoons red onion)

Nutritional information:

  • Calories 157;
  • Fat 4.6g (sat 1.8g, mono 1.3g, poly 1.2g);
  • Protein 4.23
  • Carbs 249g;
  • Fiber 2.1g;
  • Cholesterol 6mg;
  • Iron 0.6mg; Sodium 279mg; Calcium 64mg

Peruvian Sarsa Salad

This is one of the more surprising salads I had. It’s full of fiber, filling and the lemon juice makes it always feel fresh.

A common condiment in Peru sara is a salsa or relish of chopped fresh onions, herbs, and citrus juice. Some versions include tomatoes. Some toss in radishes. As long as the the base of the relish remains crisp and puckery, you can add what you like. This version from chef Douglas Rodriguez is a fuller salad including lima beans hominy and Farmer’s cheese.

Peruvian Sarsa Salad


Serves 6 (really more like 4 if served as a side, 2 if served as a full meal).

Takes about 10-15 minutes to make.


  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup sliced radishes
  • 1/2 cup frozen lima beans, thawed
  • 1/2 cup canned white hominy, drained
  • 1 ounce crumbled farmer’s cheese or feta cheese (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup chopped bottled roasted red bell peppers
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced


  1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Combine lemon juice and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.
  3. Drizzle dressing over salad, and toss gently to combine.

Nutritional information

  • Calories 77;
  • Fat (sat 1.1g, mono 1.9g, poly 0.3g);
  • Protein 2.6g, Carbs 9.5g, Fiber 1.3g, Cholesterol 4mg;
  • Iron 0.8mg; Sodium 198mg; calc 44mg

Tacos - Attempt 1

This is my first attempt at tacos. Not the most successful meal I made, but it’s something I’m determined to nail.

Tacos #1

Instead of the typical ground beef, I used ground turkey not because it was healthier but because that’s what I had on hand.

For spice mix, I used Alton Brown’s Taco Potion #19.

For preparation I used Culinary Hill’s The Best Turkey Tacos - which calls for 1 cup of tomato juice.

That latter part is important because I think it’s what went wrong that made the recipe taste more like Sloppy Joes than regular tacos.

As a test, I changed the Taco Potion #19 recipe to replace the cumin with garam masala. That yielded some delicious mix.

Lamb Kofta

A little out of band because this technically falls under Middle-East and Africa cycle, but I had some left-over ground lamb from the Greek Baked Ziti and this recipe looked simple.

Lamb Kofta


Serves about 4. Takes about 20-30 minutes to prepare


  • 1 (31/2-ounce) bag boil-in-bag jasmine rice
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh onion
  • 2 tablespoons 2% Greek-style plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound lean ground lamb
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup 2% Greek-style plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup chopped bottled roasted red bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • I teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Cook boil-in-bag jasmine rice and saffron in boiling water according to package directions. Drain; fluff rice with a fork. Sprinkle with green onions.
  2. While rice cooks, combine cilantro and next 9 ingredients (through lamb); shape into 12 oblong patties (use a little less than a quarter cup of the mix for each patty).
  3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add patties to pan; cook 10 minutes or until done, turning occasionally to brown on all sides.
  4. While kofta cooks, combine 1/2 cup yogurt and remaining ingredients. (or use Harissa mix)

Serve sauce with kofta and rice. Serves 4 (serving size: 3 patties, about 1/4 cup sauce, and about 1/3 cup rice)

Nutritional information:

  • Calories 344;
  • Fat 16.3g (sat 6.9g, mono 6.4g, poly l.lg);
  • Protein 24.83
  • Carbs 24.43 Fiber 0.83 Cholesterol 77mg;
  • Iron 2.9mg; Sodium 563mg; Calcium 72mg


  1. I didn’t use all lamb. I mixed half a pound of ground lamb and half a pound of ground beef; I don’t know if that had any effect on the final result.
  2. I still am trying to master cooking meat. I was so afraid of it being uncooked, that I think I cooked it too much. The patties ended up dry - very dry. I’m not sure I know how to best gauge when they’re done, but it didn’t feel as if the 10 minutes mentioned in the recipe were enough.
  3. You could and definitely should make the sauce with the ingredients they specify. Or you could do what I did and use pre-made Harissa mix.

It wasn’t a huge hit with the family even if they were hungry that night.