Category Archives: Pasta & Grains

Sausage, Peppers and Onions with Creamy Polenta

What a meal this turned out to be! Sweet sausage and peppers with creamy polenta…delicious. I should seriously make polenta more often—I love the feel of the smooth, tender grains in my mouth. It’s also way more interesting than plain old pasta.

Apart from a few minor tweaks, I stayed true to the original recipes (found here and here).


Sausage, Peppers and Onions with Creamy Polenta

(recipes adapted from Giada de Laurentiis via Week of Menus and The Kitchn)



extra virgin olive oil

1 lb sweet Italian turkey sausage

2 red bell peppers, sliced (I used green)

2 yellow onions, sliced

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (I used 1 big handful, incl. stems)

4 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tbsp tomato paste (I omitted this)

1 cup Marsala wine (I used white)

1 15oz can diced tomatoes

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, optional

1/2 cup frozen, canned or fresh corn kernels, optional


4 cups water (I used 2 cups 1% milk / 2 cups water)

1 cup polenta

2 tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (I omitted this)

salt and pepper to taste


For the Sauce:

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausages and cook until brown on both sides, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain.
  2. Keeping the pan over medium heat, add the peppers, onions, salt, and pepper and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the oregano, basil stems, and garlic and cook 2 more minutes.
  3. Add the tomato paste and stir. Add the Marsala (or white) wine, tomatoes, and chili flakes, if using. Stir to combine, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the browned bits. Bring to a simmer.
  4. Cut the sausages into 4 to 6 pieces each, about 1-inch cubes. Add the sausage back to the pan and stir to combine. Cook until the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes. (I let mine stew for over an hour on very low heat.) Add the corn, if using, and chopped basil leaves, stir and allow to warm through.

For the Polenta:

  1. While the sauce is stewing, begin making the polenta. You’ll need about 45 minutes. First, bring the water to a boil in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan.
  2. Once boiled, add the salt and, whisking continuously, slowly pour the polenta into the water in a thin stream. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring nearly constantly with a long-handled wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, the grains soften, and the polenta begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, 40 to 45 minutes. (The idea of stirring for 45 minutes annoys me, so I actually just turned off the heat when the mixture thickened, covered the pot and let the polenta steam until tender.)
  3. Stir in the butter and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, if using, and season with pepper. Cover to keep warm.
  4. Plate and serve with the sausage and peppers.



Arroz con Pollo (Peruvian-style Chicken and Rice) and Herby Roasted Potatoes

There seem to be endless versions of this well-known dish. So no surprise, Perú has it’s own version which gets its principle flavor and color from cilantro. Normally this is served with an onion-aji amarillo-lime salsa, but I was too lazy and also didn’t think the fresh onions would go over well with the students. (I don’t think it would have mattered; they scraped the pot clean—I guess they liked it!)

This turned out so great! I love learning new dishes to cook when I am abroad and am always really excited to try it out at home. However, often my version never tastes quite the same. The source of the ingredients is different and sometimes, as was the case this time, you have to substitute less common ingredients with ones you have around the house. The aji amarillo chiles are really important for an authentic flavor, so I was worried about how my version would turn out. Luckily, though, it came out great. Actually, I think it was the lime that saved it. So, definitely don’t forget the lime!


Arroz con Pollo

Serves 4.


Arroz con Pollo:

1 1/2 lbs. chicken pieces (I only had chicken breast on hand, but dark meat is tastier, i.e. more tender)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, chopped finely

2 medium carrots, peeled and diced into small cubes

olive oil

1 bunch cilantro, stalks trimmed

5 aji amarillo, deseeded, deveined and roughly chopped (Use a spoon to clean the chiles—they’re hot! This time, I didn’t have any, so used mild yellow chiles, plus ca. 1 tsp cayenne)

1/2 bottle of beer, preferably dark

salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups rice, well-rinsed

3-4 cups water, divided (my guesstimate)

1/2 cup frozen or canned peas (In Perú they use fresh)

1/2 cup fresh hominy corn (I didn’t have this, so left it out. You could put regular yellow or white in, however.)

juice of 1 lime

Herby Roasted Potatoes:

5 medium to large size baking potatoes (I used russets), scrubbed but not peeled and diced into large pieces

juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp dried oregano

3-4 tbsp olive oil (or more—it should be generous enough to completely coat the potatoes)


For the chicken and rice:

  1. Pat the chicken dry; season with salt and pepper. Then in a large stockpot, brown the pieces in a little olive oil, in batches if necessary. (If you overcrowd the pot, the chicken won’t brown properly.) Remove and set aside. Also empty pot of excess grease.
  2. In your blender, liquidize the cilantro and aji (or in my case, mild yellow peppers), adding 1 cup of water to help in the process. Set aside.
  3. In the same pot used to fry the chicken, fry the onion, garlic and carrots until just golden. Pour in the cilantro-aji liquid and the beer. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced to half. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting
  4. Put the chicken back into the pot, cover and simmer until cooked. Remove and set aside. (I deviated from the traditional method here in that I added a little more water to the pot and allowed the meat to braise for 2 hours. As I only had chicken breast, I wanted to tenderize the meat a bit more.)
  5. Add the rinsed rice, the remaining 2-3 cups and salt to the water to the pot and increase the heat, bringing the liquid to a boil. The liquid should taste salty. (I also added the cayenne at this point.) Once boiling, reduce the heat once again to the lowest setting and cover. Allow to cook for ca. 20 minutes or until almost cooked. (I did this differently as well by keeping the chicken in the pot and allowing it to cook with the rice.)
  6. Once the rice is just cooked, stir in the peas and corn. Replace the cover for 1-2 minutes until the vegetables are warmed through.
  7. Just before serving, season for salt and pepper and then optionally, squeeze into the pot the juice of 1 lime. Or you can just serve lime wedges with the meal, which is how is normally done.

For the herby roasted potatoes:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 F. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.
  2. On a foil-lined baking sheet, bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden and crispy.
  3. Remove and let sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

Peruvian Style Arroz con Mariscos with Papas a la Huancaina y Salsa de Cebolla Peruana

Traditional arroz con pollo is made with chicken—duh— but I adapted it for my two hungry Pescatarian girls at our monthly roommate dinner.

I have Dennis’ mom, Ana, to thank for the recipes and mi Guapito to thank for the translations!

For more Peruvian recipes, Yanuq is a great source. I found the recipe for the onion salsa there.

Note: The aji amarillo chiles used in these recipes are Peruvian yellow chiles. They should be pretty easy to find frozen in any Latin American grocery store. As for the choclo (large-grained white corn), I couldn’t find it fresh, but did find it dried. Worked OK here, but obviously fresh is best.

Arroz con Mariscos (Mixed Seafood Rice)

Recipes courtesy of Ana / Translated by Dennis

Serves 6.


1 1/2 lbs mixed seafood (I had tilapia and shrimp at home, so that’s what I used.)

3 cups rice

1 large red onion

1 large clove garlic

6 aji amarillo chiles, deseeded, deveined and minced, divided

1 red bell pepper

1 large carrot, peeled

1 ear large-grained white maize (Peruvian corn / “choclo”), husk removed and kernels sliced off the cob

1/2 cup green peas, frozen or fresh

3 bunches fresh cilantro

3 1/2 cups water, divided

1 dark beer

salt and pepper, to taste

1 bay leaf

olive oil

4 limes (2 for juice, 2 sliced into wedges for serving)


  1. Drain the seafood well and pat lightly with a paper towel to dry. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top. And then in a hot skillet, lightly fry in a little olive oil until no longer translucent (about 1 minute). Remove to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Dice the onion, pepper and carrots into roughly the same sized square pieces. Wash the rice. Set aside.
  3. In a blender, combine the cilantro, water and 1/2 the minced aji amarillo chiles. Mix until completely blended.
  4. In the same pot used to fry the seafood, fry the onions, garlic, remaining chiles and a little salt and pepper in olive oil. Pour in the cilantro mixture and allow to cook down for a few minutes before adding the entire bottle of beer.
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, allowing the alcohol to evaporate.
  6. Add the seafood and a little more salt and pepper to the pot. Cover and cook for about 2 minutes (be careful not to overcook). The liquid should be a little salty.
  7. Once the seafood is just cooked through, remove it and in the same pot, add the rice, fried vegetables, corn and peas, plus 2 1/2 cups water.
  8. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes or until the rice is tender.
  9. Squeeze in the lime juice. Serve with onion-lime salsa and huancaina sauce.

Papa a la Huancaina

Papa a la Huancaina Sauce (Potatoes with Aji Amarillo-Cheese Sauce)

Recipes courtesy of Ana Yi / Translated by Dennis Yi

Serves 6.

6 medium potatoes, scrubbed

6 aji amarillo chiles, deseeded, deveined and chopped finely

200 g queso fresco (Latin American fresh cheese), crumbled

1 medium purple onion

1 clove garlic

1/2 pkg saltine crackers

1/2 can evaporated milk

1/3 cup oil (I used olive oil)

salt and pepper to taste

the juice of 1 lime

boiled eggs, sliced into wedges, to serve

  1. Boil the potatoes, skin on.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, fry the chiles, onion and garlic in a little oil until golden. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  3. Put the cooled pan contents into a blender, along with the oil. Blend.
  4. With the mixer turned on, gradually add in the cheese and evaporated milk. Once combined, add in the saltines, salt and pepper and lime juice. Blend until thoroughly mixed. If too thick, add a little more milk.
  5. Peel the hot, cooked potatoes and then cut into thick slices. Place into serving dish and pour the sauce on top. Serve with sliced boiled eggs and fresh onion-lime salsa (see recipe below).

Fresh Onion Salsa (from Yanuq – Cooking in Peru)


1 medium onion

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 aji amarillo, deseeded, deveined and minced finely

juice of 1/2 lime (or more, according to your taste)



1/2 tbsp parsley, chopped


  1. Finely slice the onion and quickly rinse with water.
  2. Put the onion in a bowl and combine with the remaining ingredients.

Delicious Peru

I’m back.

Ten glorious days of stuffing my face with as many Peruvian culinary delights as possible—now that is my idea of vacation. My body is a little mad at me (and was really pissed on the flight back home) for being such a glutton, but I don’t care. It was worth it.

I’ve posted pics of my favorite food memories. (Photo-quality was not my main priority when I took these—obviously.)

Papa a la Huancaina (Potatoes with Aji Amarillo Cheese Sauce)


Pollo Relleno


Ceviche Mixto


Arroz con Mariscos


Ceviche de Pejarreyes


Tamal Verde




Choncholi y Rachi Rachi


Lomo Saltado



(I realize that this post is REALLY LONG because of the photos, but I couldn’t get the pictures to appear next to each other. (Does anyone know how to do this???)

Hangry-Five-Minute Pasta Sauce

I worked late yesterday. Which means by the time I left the office, I had missed yoga and was already deep into one of my scary “hangry” moods.

Actually, most of my bad moods are food-related (o_O”). When I was a little girl, if I was ever in a bad mood—which was often— my mom would ask, “Are you hungry?” This of course would make me even more mad and elicit a big, fat “NO!” reply from me—even if I she was right. (^_^#)

Anyway, lucky for me, I have all that home-made ravioli sitting in the freezer. And they take zip time to cook. So the only thing left to make then was a sauce and a salad to go with it.

The sauce I ended up making is one I saw Jamie Oliver make on his TV show Jamie at Home. It’s fast, requires minimal ingredients and still looks and taste better than anything store-bought.

Though this is a no-cook sauce, the acidity of the vinegar acts to break down the tomatoes and form a sauce; the addition of olives and olive oil at the same time balance the sharpness of the vinegar and tomatoes, giving the sauce a round, warm flavor.

Really yummy. And seriously good for all your hangry—and non-hangry—moments.


Hangry-Five-Minute Pasta Sauce (adapted from a recipe in Jamie Oliver’s The Return of the Naked Chef)

Serves 2.


1 medium tomato, seeds scraped out and flesh roughly chopped (Too lazy—didn’t do this.)

1/2 clove fresh garlic, very finely minced

8-10 kalamata olives, stones removed and flesh roughly chopped; plus 1 tbsp olive “juice”

1 tsp dried basil (fresh is always better—if you have it)

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

a squeeze of fresh lemon or a little grated lemon zest

salt and pepper to taste


  1. Combine all ingredients. Set aside, allowing flavors to combine and “marry”.
  2. Boil and cook your pasta. (I used my made-from-scratch ricotta-asiago ravioli, which took all of 3 minutes to cook.)
  3. Once pasta is cooked, turn off the stove and drain out the water from the pan. In the same warm pan, pour the sauce over the pasta. Toss until pasta is just coated.
  4. Plate and top with grated asiago or parmesan.

Pasta Project – Part I

If you want to be a foodblogger (I do! I do!) and if you consider yourself a true foodie (really, really want to be), there are a few things you should probably do (if you don’t already):

  • Check Tastespotting religiously
  • Look at food-porn (I swear, it’s totally innocent.)
  • Collect cookbooks with lots pictures
  • Rely on grams and kilos rather than silly teaspoons and cups
  • Bake your own bread
  • Make and prefer your own homemade muesli, pesto, salad dressing, pasta sauce, cheese, jams, etc.


  • Make your own pasta—plain and filled

Besides DIY pasta, that list is me to a tee.

Tastespotting is my source for learning about amazing blogs, up-and-coming bloggers and the latest foodblogger events (like Daring Bakers—maybe one day I’ll muster the courage to participate), not to mention it is also the ultimate source for outstanding food photography (i.e. food-porn).

As for cookbooks—they are one of my greatest joys, especially really fat ones with bright, colorful pictures that accompany every recipe (Jamie Oliver and Donna Hays’ are my current favorites).

And as for the final three:

  • I don’t trust the tsp-tbsp-cup system
  • If it weren’t for all the scary carbs which turn into sugar then fat, I’d always bake my own bread
  • And I get way too much pleasure out of making my own anything, especially jams and cheese (I once considered visiting a dairy, in order to get some free bacteria (i.e. rennet) to make my own mozzarella with. Actually, I still think about it…)

The final item on the list is pasta-making. I tried to make it once before. Disaster. I ended up with a big, watery mess of leaky ravioli that rotted within a few days.

This time around, I had Jamie Oliver’s help. His recipes, though not always the most authentic (every other recipe is some ‘bastardized’ version of something—his term, not mine), are easy to follow and result-wise, very dependable. Also, since my goal was to make pasta—and not gyoza—I felt pretty safe about relying on Mr. Naked Chef. (Actually, I’d say his Italian stuff is pretty spot on.)

So the recipe: starting with ingredients, Jesus, there are a lot of eggs in here—eight yolks and three whole eggs to be exact. This was fine by me; I really like the eggy-taste of fresh pasta—it’s what makes it taste, well, fresh….drr. I only made one change since I had no semolina; I used all strong flour instead (which Jamie said is fine).

As for prep, no issues to discuss, actually. I enjoyed the kneading bit the best; it always make me feel less gross and hungover after a night out (Fun & sangria this Sat. with L. in the Mission!!). Also, when Jamie says to let the dough rest, do it. I let mine rest for about an hour before taking it out of the fridge, quartering and letting it rest for another 10 minutes in saran-wrap and underneath a damp cloth. Another thing is be sure to keep the dough moist (i.e. don’t take too long rolling out; cover once rolled out); it dries out quickly.

For the filling, I went pretty traditional: whole-milk ricotta, two handfuls asiago, an egg, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

I am no Italian nonna, but my pasta turned out so pretty (^_^”) !! I ended up with about 40 good-sized ravioli (I used a cookie-mold to seal and cut), which I then portioned out into 10 single-servings (4 per sandwich baggy) and froze. I stuffed the remaining odd-pasta-bits into their own baggy and then also froze. One thought to add here: flour each ravioli well before refrigerating or freezing, in order to prevent sticking and sogginess.

This was the best Sunday project ever! And it’s only Part I. I can’t wait for Part II!!

AND—I have another BBQ to attend this Saturday. I wonder what I should bring? Not brownies—probably something that requires exactly nine egg whites \(^o^)/



Ricotta-Asiago Ravioli (from Jamie Oliver’s The Return of the Naked Chef)

serves 4



250g/9oz strong flour

250g/9oz semolina flour (if unavailable, strong flour is fine)

3 large free-range eggs

8 egg yolks


400g/14oz whole-milk ricotta

1 egg yolk

2 handfuls grated asiago or parmesan cheese

1/4 nutmeg, grated

salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place both flours on a clean surface. Make a well in the center, and add the eggs and yolks. With a fork, break up the eggs as you bring in the flour. Stir with the fork until you have a dough, which you can work with your hands.
  2. Knead the dough until you have a smooth, silky and elastic dough and a clean surface. Wrap the dough in clingflim and rest it in the fridge for a while.
  3. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and keep covered. Work with one section at a time. Then, flatten the section of dough with your hand and run it through the thickest setting on your machine. Fold in half and repeat this process several times, to give you perfect, textured pasta. Dust the sheet of pasta on both sides with flour before running it through the settings (ca. 4-5 times), dusting and moving the setting in each time until you have the desired thickness (ca. 1-2mm thick, depending on pasta type) and width (10cm/4in for ravioli). You can do this with a rolling pin, too. (I did; no problems.)
  4. Prepare the filling: With a fork, beat the ricotta, egg yolk and grated cheese together until light and creamy. Set aside.
  5. Fill and form the ravioli: (Work with one sheet a time; cover the rest with a damp cloth.) Lay your pasta sheet on a generously flour-dusted surface with a good heaped teaspoon of filling in the middle of the sheet at one end. Repeat this all the way along the pasta at 5cm/2in intervals.
  6. Using a clean pastry brush dipped in water, lightly, evenly and thoroughly brush the pasta around the piles of filling. This will stick the pasta together. Then, place a second, similar-sized sheet of pasta on top of the first.
  7. Working from one end of the pasta to the other, push the sheets together and around each mound of filling. Do this gently with the base of your palm, cupping and enclosing each filling in the pasta, making sure to extract all the air.
  8. Cut the ravioli to shape with a knife, crinkly-cutter or cookie-mold.
  9. Cook right away, refrigerate on a flour-dusted tray, or freeze.