This week’s country was……Venezuela! Located in South America, we learned that Venezuela’s cuisine has been influenced by their natives, from the Spanish who invaded, and from the African Americans who were brought there as slaves. When searching for meals, we saw that arepas are a favorite!
Arepas are basically thick, fried masa cakes that are finished off in the oven. They are smaller and thicker than a tortilla, so the oven assures that they finish cooking in the middle. Then you stuff it with whatever you’d like. We chose our favorite marinade, featured earlier on my blog here. It has chipotles, orange juice, lime, olive oil, vinegar, and lots of spices. So flavorful! Then we had a side of black beans with some taco seasonings and lime added. (Black beans seem to be very common in Venezuela.) Dessert was a Tres Leches Cake and was cold and sweet! I’m not a huge fan of the texture of Tres Leches Cake, but it was still pretty good and a few bites made a nice ending to the meal.
This meal was honestly pretty wonderful! The arepas have a nice crisp on the outside with a warm, tender inside and were so delicious with the meat and cheese we added. We squeezed lime all over the top and it gave it a nice little acidic bite every now and then….soooo good! Part of us voted the meal to be a 9 and part voted it to be an 8, so overall, we gave the meal:
Here are the recipes we used for the arepas and the Tres Leches Cake.
2 cups warm water
1 heaping tsp of salt
2 cups masarepa (I couldn’t find it locally, so I just used masa, but would like to try it again and order masarepa in time to try it.)
1 TBSP oil (I used vegetable)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, add 2 cups water and your salt. Use fingers to combine.
- Add masarepa a little at a time and use your hands to mix it in. If you feel clumps, use your fingers to break them up. You will keep adding your masarepa a little at a time while you combine. As you get close to the 2 cups, you will feel the dough start to form and not stick to your hands so much. You want it to be similar to playdough so you can make a small ball and flatten it without it having cracks or breaks.
- Take a handful of dough, roll into a ball, and flatten into a disk. You want it a little thicker (about 1/2 inch thick) so it can be cut open later to stuff your filling. My recipe made 12 arepas.
- Heat a nonstick pan or cast iron over medium-high heat and add your oil. Then place your arepas in the pan and cook for a few minutes until golden brown. Some black spots are okay. Flip and cook the other side. When they are finished, place on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 350°F until the inside is completely cooked.
- When cooked, you can slice open your arepa and add your fillings! Beef, chicken, pork, and black beans are very common!
Tres Leches Cake
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
- 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
-Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9×13 pan.
-Sift flour and baking powder together and place to the side.
-Cream butter and 1 cup sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs and the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract; beat well.
-Add the dry flour mixture to the butter mixture a little at a time; mix until well blended. Pour batter into pan.
-Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes. When done, pierce the top of the cake all over with a fork.
-Combine the whole milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk together. Pour over the top of the cooled cake.
-Whip whipping cream, the remaining 1 cup of the sugar, and the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla together until thick. Spread over the top of cake. Keep cake refrigerated and serve chilled.