Thursday, October 27, 2011

Apple and Cider Crisp

I created this delicious low sugar apple crisp recipe last fall, and now that the weather has turned cool, I've started to make it again. I can tell it is going to be a staple for the next few months, so I wanted to re-post the recipe. If you want to simplify it event further, just apples, cider and a bit of cinnamon for the filling works great, and a 1/4 recipe tossed in a small oven-safe skillet to cook during dinner makes an easy, healthy dessert.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


While I'd like to say that I discovered these wonderful corn "pancakes" while traveling in Colombia, or at my Venezuelan friend's house, I actually owe my love of them to the streets of New York. I first encountered arepas more than a decade ago in the generic street fairs that squeeze onto the streets of New York during the summer and fall. Under the arepa vendor's tent there was a large griddle perpetually covered with yellow sweet corn arepa pancakes, speckled with corn kernels and melted cheese in various stages of done-ness, (if that's even a word). The first time I ate these I went right home and tried to make them with some fine cornmeal I had in the kitchen; the result was a pasty inedible mess. It wasn't till years later that I found arepa flour, which is a precooked corn meal, and discovered the simplicity of making them at home. I think Goya makes a brand that is widely available, but I have not used it. The Doñarepa brand is delicious, as I'm sure many of them are. From what I can tell each country or region seems to have one favorite brand, some yellow, some white, so you'll have to try them out to see what you like.  I must say, generally I try to buy organic corn products because they are one of the most highly genetically engineered crops, but this is one of the few exceptions I make because those darn arepas are so addictive, and the memories of the sweet hot corn pancakes in NYC just never seem to be satiated no matter how many of these I make at home....

Sweet Corn Arepas
Follow the instructions on the package if different from these.
The fresh corn and cheese are optional as well, you can make arepas with just the arepa corn flour and water. 

1 cup yellow arepa flour
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
1/2 salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1/2 cup fresh or thawed corn kernels
1/4 cup finely chopped mozzarella or fresh cheese
oil for cooking

  1. Mix warm water and arepa flour, sugar, salt and butter until it forms a moist but not sticky dough. let sit for 10 minutes. If it gets dry add a bit more water. Mix in the corn kernels and cheese. 
  2. Form the dough into balls and then flatten into pancakes between your hands. You can also roll the dough into a log and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour to 2 days until you are ready to cook them, then slice the dough into rounds. Cook arepas in a hot pan with a small amount of oil until browned on both sides.
Arepas are delicious with eggs, beans, meat, vegetables, for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  For this meal I served them with black beans with small pieces of pan fried maduros(sweet plantain), sautéed Kale and peppers with caramelized onions and a bit of pan fried queso fresco, a mexican fresh cheese. 

My 3 year old was well occupied during all this cooking with a hand full of arepa dough. She rolled and patted her way right through until dinner was ready. It always amazes me how easy it is to engage kids in the cooking process when I have the energy to do it....

There is a very well known arepa restaurant in NYC which makes the white corn variety common in Venezuela. These are a bit puffier and are sliced open and stuffed with delicious fillings.
Check out the Caracas Arepa Bar for more info.

In New Haven, CT a popular spot for yellow corn arepas is Manjares cafe.


Do you LOVE arepas too?
How do you make them?
Please share by commenting below!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Food Day 2011

If you haven't heard, the first national Food Day is happening this year Monday, October 24, 2011. When I first caught wind of this earlier this year, I got pretty excited imagining block parties with long tables set up down the middle of the street, neighbors sharing healthy home-cooked foods and people coming together to eat and talk about food in our community. As the Chair of the New Haven Food Policy Council, a chef and a mother, I felt it was my duty to make a little noise about Food Day. So, we gathered a large group of leaders in our city and started to plan. Since all of us are spread thin, we tried to build on the good work already going on: The WIC offices will be doing events using the New Haven Cooks/Cocina New Haven cookbook, schools are conducting real food events and tastings, people are opening up their backyard gardens to visitors, and so much more.

Food Day is a national campaign to draw attention to and celebrate healthy, affordable foods produced in a humane, sustainable way and to fix the food system by:

·       Reducing obesity and diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods
·       Supporting sustainable family farms and cutting subsides to huge agribusiness
·       Ending urban and rural “food deserts” by providing access to healthy foods
·       Protecting the environment and farm animals by reforming factory farms
·       Promoting children’s health by curbing junk-food marketing aimed at kids
·       Obtaining fair wages for all workers in the food system

There are over 1500 events happening nation wide so far. 
There is still time for you to get involved! 
To truly change anything about our food environment, we need to change the culture of food in our communities. Hosting a pot-luck with your neighbors, sharing some delicious healthy recipes, talking to people about food justice and sustainability issues, holding a food drive at your job, signing a petition or inspiring a recipe collection at your place of worship or neighborhood organization, all of these are the small things that truly bring about change. I can attest to this personally, since a few times a week someone contacts me to say that a recipe they found on my blog is now a staple in their family, or that their child now eats more vegetables and fruits since they learned some new techniques for feeding their family from the blog or cookbook. These are small changes, one person at a time, but the cumulative effects of all of us sharing our knowledge and making small changes, really will have an impact in the long run. So, I know it's short notice, but check out the Food Day site for info and their incredible resource page for their dinner party kit, film screening kit, Food Day curriculum and so much more!
If you are in New Haven please register your event on the site or find a local event there. Get creative have fun with it help to make some change to bring about good food for everyone!
If you'd like to visit a Farm for food day find one here:

If you want to go fruit picking find a location here:

Please share your thoughts and ideas below!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Best Apple Cake - Again

It's apple season, and while there are 100 fabulous sweet and savory things to make with apples, I just have to re-post this wonderful apple cake recipe that I discovered last year! It is simple, delicious and moist, with a sugary crispy edge. My mouth is watering just thinking about this cake.... 
If you are interested in going apple picking, check out for a location near you.

Yes, it's that good.....

The Best Apple Cake
adjusted from the original Teddie's Apple Cake

Butter or oil for greasing the pan
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups oil
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar packed
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups apples, pealed, cored and cut in thick slices or 3/4-inch cubes
1 to 2 cups chopped or coarsely ground nuts (walnuts or pecans are best)
1/2 cup currants or raisins
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch tube pan. Beat the oil and sugar together in a mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment) while assembling the remaining ingredients. After about 5 minutes, add the eggs and beat until the mixture is creamy.
  2.  Sift together 3 cups of flour, the salt, cinnamon, cardamom and baking soda. Stir into the batter. Add the vanilla, apples, nuts and raisins and stir until combined. 
  3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan before turning out. Serve at room temperature.