Papas Huancaina: Peruvian Comfort Food

papas front

Managing to go 30+ years without ever tasting Peruvian food is one of the biggest culinary travesties of my life.  It took an unexpected domicile detour to Miami to right that serious wrong (we set up shop there for 5 good eatin’ years).  And catch up–my belly did indeed–play.  Peruvian cuisine as a whole, easily makes my top 5 favorites to feast on.  Culturally diverse, menu influences included European, African, Indigenous Native, Chinese and Japanese.  A veritable melting pot to gorge yourself on.  Ceviche is probably the most well recognized Peruvian dish (unless you count a pitcher full of Pisco Sour) but Papas Huancaina, most surely follows a close second.   While I certainly love me some citrus cooked fish, I honestly don’t mess with it much in my own kitchen–frankly, cebicherias do it better.  Could I? Yes.  Should I…incidentally, I feel the same way about sushi.  Potatoes though, I’m always looking for new and delicious ways to put cheese on ‘em…go south, dear taste buds, go south.  Papas H fits that creamy bill.  Think savory meets tangy meets a hint of smoky spice (gracias to the aji amarillo chile).  Shout out to those who eat with a higher conscious (you greatly inspire me, save me a seat someday…) these are also a nice vegetarian side dish in lieu of a yawny potato salad or staid scalloped potatoes.  Mix me up a Pisco y me pasas las papas!

papas side

How To:

  • 6 medium Yukon gold or red potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 (6 0z) container of feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 (3 0z) pack of cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp. of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large garlic tooth (minced)
  • 1 seeded (and membrane removed) serrano chile
  • 2 tbsp. of aji amarillo chile paste (can be found in many South American speciality markets.  Here in NYC, I found mine at the amazing Kalustyans.  Check them out for ALL of your spice needs.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup of whole milk
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • romaine or red leaf lettuce (to garnish)
  • black canned slice olives (to garnish)
  • 1 hard boiled egg, sliced (serious vegetarians can omit the egg)

Boil potatoes in a large saucepan–cover with at least 1 inch of water.  Add a pinch of salt and cook until potatoes are tender (about 1/2 an hour).  Drain, peel and set aside to cool.

In a blender or food processor, add feta cheese, cream cheese, garlic, lemon juice, serrano, aji amarillo paste, turmeric, 1/2 tsp of salt, black pepper, whipping cream, whole milk and olive oil.  Blend until smooth.  Transfer to a saucepan and cook over low heat while stirring constantly, about 4 minutes.  Additional milk (by the tablespoon) can be added to thin sauce, if needed.   Taste for salt and pepper.   Sauce can be made ahead, refrigerated and reheated, as needed.

To plate, line a serving platter with lettuce leaves.  Cut the potatoes in half and arrange on the bed of lettuce.  Generously pour the sauce over all the potatoes and garnish with slices of hardboiled egg and black olive slices.




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Veggie Summer Rolls


Last week felt like NYC was (as my ever descriptive friend Michelle C. explained) “colliding with the sun”…which is basically the summer menu theme of I Made It, You Eat It.  At last, a girl (and by girl I mean middle-aged mom..aka me) can’t live off of coconut water and sunscreen alone…but throw in some fresh Veggie Summer Rolls and I cope.  Crisp, light, raw and delicious…best part: you’ll go no where near the oven.  Oh and if you’re doing Weight Watchers, they’re practically the equivalent of eating air…seriously, the rice paper is like 20 calories (which isn’t even a point) and the veg are FREE! FREE! FREE! (though I like to add a bit of avocado at 1 point per ounce). I’ve included the simplest dipping sauce made from garlic chili paste, ginger and sesame oil (recipe below).  With the exception of a little chopping monotony (julienne or close to julienne veg is best) these are tremendously easy to make…my local Whole Foods is running a total racket charging $7 a pop for 2 of these guys!  Save your dough for a ticket out of this god-forsaken hotbox and make ‘em at home.  Happy dipping, fellow citizens of Hades.

veg plate

Clean and julienne cut fresh ingredients like carrots, red cabbage, cucumber, lettuce and avocado.  Rinse fresh cilantro and mint and add to prep plate.

place rice paper sheet in tepid water for a few seconds

place rice paper sheet in tepid water for a few seconds

In a large bowl, add tepid water and place individual rice paper to soften.

place julienned vegetables and herbs in center of moist rice paper

place julienned vegetables and herbs in center of moist rice paper

On a large serving plate or cutting board, place moist rice paper wrapper down and add fresh vegetables and herb sprigs.

crisp and fresh

crisp and fresh

Roll left and right sides of rice paper closed (or almost closed, if working with small wrapper) and then roll from bottom to top and tuck to seal.  Place on serving platter along with ginger chili dipping sauce.



  • romaine lettuce
  • red cabbage
  • carrots
  • cucumber
  • avocado
  • cilantr0
  • mint
  • rice paper

(for dipping sauce)

  • 1/2 teaspoon of fresh chopped ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil






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If-You-Turn-On-The-Oven-I-Will-Combust Salad

Summer Salad

It is hawwwwwwwwt up in NYC this week.  Muggy, humid and utterly sweltering…all anyone wants to do is flee indoors to AC, strip of their clothes and throw back an icy beverage while re-hydrating in their underwear.   That’s what I do, anyway.   Yet the troops can’t live on fruit-infused water alone.  Rather than turning on the oven and combusting in my very own kitchen, I like to whip up this light and easy summer salad which I blend with a delicious Dijon Vinaigrette (also combines fabulously with cold artichoke hearts, some chilled asparagus or a seasonal tomato salad).   The above is farmer’s market romaine lettuce, local tomatoes, English cucumber, Haas avocado, red onion and a sprinkling of feta cheese and store-bought breaded chopped chicken.  This takes all of 5 minutes to make and is as tasty as it is simple.  Stay cool, my friends.

Dijon Vinaigrette   

3 heaping tablespoons of light olive oil

1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar

2 heaping teaspoons of dijon mustard

splash of worcestershire sauce

splash of fresh lemon

1/4 cup of shredded parmesan cheese

pepper to taste






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Holy Guacamole


Hell Yeahz.  Cinco De Mayo viniendo pronto.  10 years of marriage and 2 kids later…I don’t throw back as many tequila shots as I used to…but I can still get down and bring the fiercest guac drunken gringos have ever laid their booze soaked taste buds on!  Now EVERYONE has a guacamole recipe…or three–especially if you’re from California.  Why not, right?  What’s not to love about an avocado…though I once dated a guy that had never tasted one…um, check please.  Avocado’s creamy yumminess perfectly tops, well,  just about everything…from salad to eggs to couscous to a sammie.  A dip girl at heart, my true love is a simple guac with tortilla chips.  The above recipe is entirely easy and wholly delicious.  To give it a bit of festive, Cinco de Mayo party kick–and to stand tall and proud among a herd of fiesta guac competitors–I like to garnish mine with ripe pomegranate seeds.  A beautiful accent but also a sweet and tart compliment to the smooth and creamy taste of the avocado.  De nada, amigos.

Serves 6 to 8 (or like 2 linebackers)


3 medium to large ripe avocados

2 serrano chiles finely chopped

1/4 chopped white onion

1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro, reserve a bit for extra garnish

2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice

handful of fresh pomegranate seeds for garnish

reserve pit for garnish




Halve avocados and scoop inner flesh into a mixing bowl while reserving one pit for garnish.  Mash avocado coarsely and mix in chopped serranos and onions.  Add chopped cilantro and stir in lime juice.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer to a serving bowl and place reserved pit in center.  Garnish guacamole with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds and a dash of cilantro.  Serve with black corn tortilla chips as a nice color accent.  Buen provecho!



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I Say Tomato, You Say Pomodoro


Pasta Pomodoro is fresh,  delicious and a cinch to prepare.   A great Go-To recipe when you need to throw something together for a late-night dinner, weekend lunch on the fly or to easily AND economically feed a big group (recipe doubles well).  I usually have most of these items permanently stocked in the pantry and fridge anyway.  Guaranteed full-bellied, happy and satisfied eaters with this flavor-filled dish…especially the vegetarians and pasta lovers.  It also co-stars as a great side with grilled chicken or fish.  A little wine, a little simple salad and you’ve got yourself a solidly good meal.  Buon Appetito!



1 box of cherry or grape tomatoes (halved if large)

3 tablespoons of olive oil

3 cloves of garlic chopped

salt (to taste)

pepper (to taste)

1/3 cup of white wine

1 tablespoon of grated lemon peel

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese

1/4 of chopped basil

1/3 cup of grated Pecorino (optional for topping)


In a separate pot, prepare boxed pasta as directed.  For this recipe, I love Farfalle.  Reserve about 1/2 cup of cooked pasta water before draining cooked pasta.  In a large pan, heat olive oil and add chopped garlic to saute.  After about 1 minute, add halved tomatoes along with salt and pepper (to your personal taste).  Saute for about 1 minute and then add white wine, grated lemon peel and lemon juice.  Let saute and reduce for about 8 minutes until tomatoes are soft and wine has thickened slightly to form a wonderful sauce.  Remove from heat.  Add cooked pasta to saute pan of reduced tomatoes and sauce and stir in shredded Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped basil.  Add a few tablespoons of pasta water as necessary to avoid sticky pasta.  You may add additional salt and pepper, if needed.  Plate and top with more grated Parmesan and/or Pecorino cheese.




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