Life for us is unpredictable, not in the day-to-day, but out there on the not-so-distant horizon, we’re not sure whether we’re going to make a left, right, or full circle back to O’ahu. Being on a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific may sound great for a getaway, but it does have its drawbacks at times.
The mister and I are both really far from home; I was brought up in a tight clan of country folk back in Kentucky, and he’s an expatriate hailing from Chile. While I am much more vocal and let my feelings fly, he is more reserved, but on occasion, he actually admits that he’s homesick. How do I remedy this? I’m glad you asked. You emotional eaters will appreciate me for this. Comida chilena.
My mother-in-law is the quintessential South American woman. She raised six(!) kids, a feat in itself, but somehow she manages laundry (going so far as to press my underwear, which I now hang in the closet to dry during my visits!), grocery shopping, church and social activities, maintaining the house, and setting an immaculate table three times a day, all while keeping herself presentable. I’ve spent three summers in Chile, and I’m ashamed to say my mother-in-law was in her robe already preparing something for lunch before I even went downstairs for breakfast. I’m a disgrace to all my fellow gringos out there.
On family get-togethers, she puts together a huge spread for her children and grandchildren. And on our last visit, she had a ladies-only tea in my honor. Yes, a 5 o’clock tea (or coffee with juice), complete with cakes and cookies and finger foods. Impressive. While I can never be that woman, I picked up a couple things from the months I lived under her roof. Keep in mind that Chilean cuisine is nothing like Mexican, so if you don’t like the spicy, oily, cheesy fare you find so often throughout the U.S., don’t lose heart. What I’m about to bring to your table is much more mild and well-rounded. (Not that I don’t love a great burrito). And it can easily be altered to whatever suits your tastes. We’re talking pancakes. Not breakfast ones. Dinner ones, layered and served with veggies.
Now, I intended to only use Maseca for this recipe, because I love the flavor of arepas, and I thought it might work as a pancake. Not so. This is what happened without any regular flour–take one:
Take two. Much, much better.
For those of you still interested, here’s how it works:
Veggies: 1-2 cups Sweet peas 1/2 Onion 1/2 Red Pepper 1 lb. Frozen Broccoli Rice Milk, Nutritional Yeast, Garlic, Dijon Mustard, Salt, Pepper
Panqueques (Pancakes): About 2 cups Maseca, or other instant corn masa flour About 1/4 cup Flour (WW or White) Water
You’ll probably want to have a couple burners going to keep everything hot at the same time. Starting with the veggies, slice the onion and red pepper, and sauté (using water or oil) until translucent. Place peas in hot water just to heat them thoroughly, but keep separate from onion and pepper. Chop broccoli and steam. Toward the end of the steaming process, add a couple splashes of milk, several tablespoons of nutritional yeast, and any spices you enjoy, and combine to form a quick and easy broccoli and “cheese.” Keep all veggies covered and warm until the pancakes are finished.
In a separate bowl, combine flours and add water until you’ve got a runny batter. Pour onto skillet over medium heat and once it starts bubbling, it’s ready to flip. Ideally, these are more like crepes, but mine were a little thicker than they should have been. Continue until you’ve run out of batter, and you’re ready to assemble.
Line each plate with a panqueque and add a thin layer of dijon. Top with peas. Add another panqueque, another layer of dijon, and top with the onion-pepper combo. Add another panqueque and top with the broccoli “cheese” mixture. Serve warm.
These can have as many or as few layers as you prefer. In Chile, we typically have four or five layers using very thin panqueques, and my mother-in-law uses corn mixed with mayo, tomatoes, avocado, etc. Our version wasn’t so ambitious, but was still none too shabby!