Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ms. Jones Gets Inspired by a Friend's Twitter Update About French Toast

Memories from childhood remembered Schwebels on the griddle on Sunday mornings, drenched with syrup...then no syrup at all as I got older. Sadly, when @BillReiniger's tweet about FT came through my phone, I couldn't even remember the last time I'd had it. Probably when we were running the 'Schnite' special at A Voce for one of the prix fixe regional lunch menus. House made brioche with an egg batter, winter fruit compote, and lemon gelato (i think...or fior di latte...) Since I've had it Italian style and the most recognizable 'French' style, I scoured my fridge and pantry for a toasting medium. Cinnamon-Raisin bread? Boring. 9-grain wheat? Mundane. Rice Cakes...impossible. Mini-pitas? Cute, but too thin. Then the culinary gods shined a latin light on the left side of my refrigerator. AREPAS! I had to try it.

Arepas originated in the Andes and is extremely prevalent in Columbian and Venezuelan kitchens. Its basically a cornmeal bread patty (think pancake thickness) that can stand alone, or be stuffed or topped. I've seen them in stores in white or yellow corn and filled with things like cheese, coconut, chicken or beef, etc. My personal preference is unfilled, yellow corn. But that particular day I was in the C-C-C-Town, they only had unfilled white.


Batter was simple. 1 egg, 1 yolk, a splash of unsweetened soy milk, a pinch of cinnamon, 2 tsp of sugar and about 1/8 tsp of vanilla. The key I've learned to great french toast, is soaking time. With the brioche I was doing a few months ago, I had it soaking for at least 10 minutes so it could absorb all the way to the center of the slice. With arepas, they are kind of dense....not very porous. They may have soaked better of they were spilt in half, like an english muffin...however, that move would have taken away from their perfect thickness...So i soaked each for about 5-10 minutes just to coat them thoroughly.


Into the hot skillet went the first one....sooo then I walked away and got distracted by my iPod and over cooked half of one side. Down, but not out. In my defense, said burned side needed more batter. The next side was a moderate improvement. Frying time = @5min.


For the second arepa, I poured a small amount of batter in the pan before putting the arepa in. Then, I poured a small pool of it over the arepa, too. First flip...GORGEOUS! (minus a piece that fell off, haha). Second flip - Not as nice, BUT still looked like legitimate french toast! The taste was great, too. The addition of cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar made a world of difference. I would have liked the crust to be a bit more crunchy. however, having toasted plain arepas in skillets before in more savory eggs, avocado, peppers, and onions...even when the outer skin snaps, its still a little chewy in the middle. The center of the patty never really heats as much as you'd like them to. I think dredging them before battering might make a huge difference next time?

Final conclusion. Arepas for savory vehicles, awesome. Arepas for sweet vehicles, good with great potential.

Next for Ms Jones...more her forte...Malt blondies and Gluten Free Brownies.....


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