You can make arepas up to four hours ahead: Cover them with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature. Fry when ready to eat and enjoy warm.

Arepas Dough

71/2 cups of lukewarm water

2 tablespoons salt

Pinch of sugar

6 cups precooked, white cornmeal, such as Harina P.A.N.

Vegetable oil, for frying

Butter (optional)

Filling Options

1/4 pound thinly sliced cheddar cheese

1/2 pound thinly sliced Gouda cheese

1 ball fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced

4 ounces cooked chorizo sausage, thinly sliced

1/2 pound thinly sliced prosciutto, or other, ham

In a large bowl, combine water, salt and sugar. Slowly add the cornmeal, mixing well with your hands until the dough comes together. If it is too dry and does not hold together, add a little more water.

Moisten hands and use them to form small balls of dough, about 2 inches in diameter. Flatten with your palms into 31/2-inch disks, about 1/2-inch thick. Set aside.

Fill a large skillet with inch of oil and heat on medium-high. When the oil is hot enough so that faint ripples form, begin frying the arepas in batches, making sure not to crowd the pan. Once one side is a light golden color, about 2 to 3 minutes, flip over with tongs and cook until the other side becomes golden. Lay the fried arepas on a plate lined with paper towels.

When cool enough to handle, slice an arepa as you would a bagel, smear with a little butter, if desired, and stuff with one or more of the fillings.

Makes 20-25 arepas.

Per arepa (without filling): 106 calories, 1 gm protein, 6 gm carbohydrates, 9 gm fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1 gm saturated fat, 558 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber