L is for Lomo Saltado

Lomo saltado is a beef stir fry dish from Peru, originated in the Barrio Chino (Chinatown) of Lima. It has a very interesting history. During the 1800s, a large number Cantonese immigrants arrived in Peru to work on the railroads. Many of them, having worked as cooks on the ships to pay for their voyage, took up that profession when they landed. At one time, it was considered a prestige in Peru households to have a Chinese cook in the house. Chinese restaurants also started appearing in Lima, signaling the beginnings of Chinatown.

This is the quintessential fusion dish where traditional Chinese cooking methods and Peruvian local ingredients meet. And it is a dish that has moved out of the Chifas (Chinese restaurants) and on to the mainstream menus. In the process, the recipe was adjusted to include ingredients like tomatoes, hot peppers, fried potatoes and cilantro, in addition to the original onions and sliced beef.

The habanero peppers add flavor to the recipe, in addition to heat. Any other hot peppers can be used, if habaneros are not available. If you would like a mild version, the habaneros can be reduced or even omitted entirely.

The beef is cooked quickly like in all stir frys and hence the cut of the beef is important. Any cut that cooks quickly to tenderness will be ideal. Also, slicing the beef across the grain helps the cooking process.

Lomo saltado includes fried potatoes (as in French fries). They can either be mixed into the beef when done, or served on the side. I prefer to serve it on the side. Makes a better visual too! 

L is for Lomo Saltado

Difficulty:IntermediateServings:4 servings



  1. Cut the beef into thin strips. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the beef, 2 tablespoon soy sauce, and 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar to a bowl, and set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat a pan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil to the pan. When the oil is very hot, add the marinated beef strips to the pan and fry. Continue frying till the liquid has dried up, about 5 to 6 minutes. Set aside in a bowl with any pan juices.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan. Add the onion wedges to the pan and cook till the onions are transparent.
  5. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the beef strips, along with any juices, and mix together.
  6. Add the strips of habanero peppers, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, and Pisco (if using). Mix well.
  7. Add the tomatoes and continue cooking for 2 more minutes. Check for seasoning.
  8. Add the cilantro leaves and turn off the heat.
  9. Peel the potato and cut into long pieces of 1/4 inch thickness and rinse under running water.
    In a heavy bottomed pan (cast iron is best), heat 4 tbsp of oil on high heat. When the oil is smoking hot, add the potato pieces to the pan and stir to coat.
  10. Reduce the heat to medium and continue frying till the outsides are browned and the insides are cooked.
  11. Serve the prepared beef and potatoes side by side, accompanied by cooked rice.
Keywords:Lomo Saltado, Meat and Potatoes, Peru, Stir fry

Potato Soufflé

There are certain dishes that form sets and are always prepared together. Like the traditional dishes ‘egg lace’ and ‘marbled egg’. Stuffed potato skins is also a dish that is part of a set, but the good thing is, there are several dishes that you can choose from to form the second part of the set. For example, you can use the potato flesh that is scooped out of the skins to make home fries, a potato salad, potato vadas, or a potato soufflé.


Generally, the word soufflé induces a sort of fear in many people, even those who are confident cooks otherwise. After all, collapsing soufflés, are a regular source of mirth in sitcoms and cartoons. Believe me, it is a fear that can be overcome with the first attempt at a not-so-complex soufflé. And this potato soufflé is the perfect one for that attempt. It is simple enough without too many steps to follow, has very few ingredients, and no fancy ingredients either. So if you haven’t made a soufflé yet, now is the time! 🙂


A soufflé mix basically has two parts… the base and the egg white beaten into soft peaks. The word ‘soufflé’, originally from French, means ‘to blow up’ or ‘puff up’. That is exactly what a soufflé does. It sort of puffs itself up, with the help of the airy egg whites incorporated into the mix.


Of course, you have to take care to beat the eggs in an absolutely dry bowl. Also, not get even a trace of the egg yolks into the whites. I have been told (don’t remember when or by whom) that the folding in of the beaten egg whites should be done with a wooden spatula. Don’t know the logic behind that or whether a silicon spatula would not work as well or better… I still follow that advice and use a wooden spatula! 🙂


This was designed to be not at all spicy, to focus on the flavor of the potatoes. Celery, carrots and black olives, and a pinch of nutmeg. That’s all. Of course, you can make it quite spicy by adding some minced jalapenos and onions and a pinch of curry powder.


This can be made in a soufflé dish or ramekins. Remember that the bread crumb coating on the inside of the baking dish has to be rather thick. This is what is going to give the soufflé something to adhere to, as it is rising.


So go ahead and start with this simple soufflé. We will make much more complex ones later!




Potato Soufflé
Recipe type: Lunch
Cuisine: French
  • 3 large potatoes
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 ribs of celery
  • 10 black olives
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • A dash of nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Bake the potatoes in their skins. When cooled, scoop out the flesh.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degree farenheit.
  3. Shred the carrot.
  4. Finely chop the celery and olives.
  5. Separate the eggs and keep the whites aside in the medium bowl that is perfectly dry.
  6. Mix together the potato flesh, shredded carrot, chopped celery and black olives.
  7. Add the nutmeg powder, cream and egg yolks and mix well.
  8. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Liberally coat the insides of the baking dish with butter.
  10. Thickly cover the butter with breadcrumbs.
  11. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites till they stand up in soft peaks.
  12. Using a flat wooden spatula, gently blend in the beaten egg whites into the potato mix.
  13. Transfer the mix into the baking dish.
  14. Sprinkle any leftover breadcrumbs on top.
  15. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes. Do not open the oven door till the soufflé is well-risen and the baking time is up.
  16. Take out of the oven and serve hot.


Kicked Up Potato Skins

You go to any news site or open any newspaper… there is at least one article on some scientific research which apparently proves that some food item or other is bad for you, healthwise. Go to the same web site, open the same newspaper a month later and you will find reports of another research project which proves the exact opposite. And if you pay attention over time, this cycle will repeat itself over and over, for sure.
Take the case of butter. More butter, better food… that was the motto of the times of Julia Child. Then came the butter police with their cautionary tales and scary statistics. Research was quoted linking butter directly to high cholesterol, leading to heart health problems. Today? Today the cycle has come full circle… to the conclusion that butter, in fact, is good for you, particularly for your heart! 🙂
Another case in point is that of potatoes. At one time, it was believed, based on “scientific research” that the skin on the potato contained toxins. So users were advised to peel the potatoes diligently. Then, later came research with the findings that the potato skin is loaded with potassium and iron and niacin and all kinds of goodies, in addition to essential fiber! That is where the situation stands now. Will it change again? Who knows, we can only guess!
I personally find all this a bit amusing. And if the dish I’m planning to cook with potatoes will be better with skins, I keep them on; otherwise peel them. I keep it that simple.

So the other day, when the craving for potatoes hit me, as it does every so often, I chose to do a combo – a dish of potato skins stuffed with goodies. And what did I do with the scooped out potato flesh? That is a topic for another day! 🙂
Starting with nice mealy large potatoes is the key to arriving at potato skins worthy of being stuffed. And smear them with some salt before baking to get the skins tasting even better. Out of the oven, just slice them and scoop out the flesh.

I used a simple mix of some veggies along with black beans and corn for the stuffing. Actually, you can try any of the combinations that you have used elsewhere. One of these days, I’m going to do a chopped meat version; should be yum.

Just chop up the vegetables and saute them all together.

And for the sauce, I used a bit of soy sauce, sriracha and some mixed herbs. This mixed herbs is a staple in my house. I grow herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage and such, during the summer and fall, on my window sill. When the weather gets too cold for them and they start kind of drooping, I harvest them all and put into a warm oven to get slow dried. Crush them all together when perfectly dry and you got a year’s worth of fragrant herbs. Store them in an airtight container on the door of the freezer.

So you just cook the ingredients all together…

And pile them up in the potato skins.

And top them with some shaved melting cheese.

Place under the broiler for 5 minutes and you have the perfect combo of a gooey cheese melt in a crispy outside.

Serve with thinly sliced peppers and mini greens.





Kicked Up Potato Skins
Recipe type: Snack
  • 3 large potatoes
  • 1 + 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ green pepper
  • ½ orange pepper
  • 1 cup black beans, from a can
  • 1 cup corn, from a can
  • 1 tsp sriracha sauce (or any other chilli sauce)
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs of your choice
  • Chedder cheese shavings to tp
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degree farenheit.
  2. Smear the potatoes with 1 tsp of salt and the vegetable oil.
  3. Place them on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes to an hour, till done.
  4. Allow them to cool outside the oven.
  5. Chop the onions and celery into small pieces.
  6. Slice the garlic thinly.
  7. Slice the peppers into thin long strips.
  8. Drain the beans and corn and keep aside.
  9. In a pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil.
  10. When the oil is hot, add the onions, celery and garlic.
  11. Sauté them till transparent.
  12. Add the black beans and corn to the mix, along with enough salt, and stir well.
  13. Add half the sliced peppers and the sauces and herbs to the mix.
  14. Mix well and take off the heat.
  15. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half lengthwise.
  16. Scoop out the flesh from the inside, leaving a quarter inch border all around, forming a shell.
  17. Set the oven on Broil.
  18. Divide the prepared vegetable mix among the potato shells.
  19. Top with shaved cheese and keep under the broiler for 5 minutes.
  20. Serve on a platter garnished with the rest of the sliced peppers and mini greens.

Easy Twice Baked Potatoes

Spuds, taters, tubers… whatever name you call them by, a potato is a potato is a potato. And to misquote Shakespeare, “a potato by any other name would taste as great”! (Actually, he said… “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, but I think he should have made Juliet speak about the potato rather than the rose! 🙂

Think about the innumerable ways in which potatoes can be cooked… you can roast, fry, or boil them… bake, stuff or sauté them… They gel well with any meat or fish… or they can stand on their own. They are good spiced up or plain; they can be the main dish or a side. And whatever you do with them, they taste sooo awesomely good!

Can you tell I’m a major fan of the potato? Yes, I love, love, love them! Not only for their great taste, but for their versatility and adaptability to whatever I want to do with them… I can trust the potato not only to rise to the occasion in any dish, but shine like the brilliant star it is!

All kidding aside, I do find the potato my go-to food in a hunger emergency. Also, many of my comfort foods are potato based. And the addition of a potato or two can improve most dishes, I do believe. What is more, I am sure that most of the world would agree with me on this. After all, potatoes are the world’s fourth largest food crop!


A baked potato is one of the most basic form of potato that you can think of. But a twice baked potato can be simple or complex, as you desire. And that is its charm too.

The principle is simple… you bake the potato…


Cut off the tops and scoop out the flesh, leaving a thick skin all around.


And use various stuff to flavour the scooped out flesh. Here you can let your imagination run wild, as most of the spices we commonly use will go well with potatoes.


Pile up everything back into the potato skin and place in the oven for the second round of baking.


When almost done, sprinkle some cheese on top and brown again.


All done! A few scallions for decoration is all the finishing touch needed.


This can be served as a meal when paired with a hearty salad, or can be a side to a meat dish.





Easy Twice Baked Potatoes
Recipe type: Snack/ Lunch
  • 2 large potato
  • 1 tsp of vegetable oil
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup white cheddar cheese, separated
  • 1 scallion
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree farenheit.
  2. Choose 2 large potatoes of same size.
  3. Scrub and wash them thoroughly.
  4. Dry the potatoes with a paper towel and prick them all over with a skewer.
  5. Smear vegetable oil all over the potatoes.
  6. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
  7. Check doneness by inserting a skewer into the centre of a poatato
  8. When done, take out of the oven and allow to cool.
  9. Cut off the top on the long side.
  10. Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh, leaving a thick wall all around.
  11. Mix the scooped out poatato with ½ cup of sour cream and ½ cup of shredded cheddar cheese.
  12. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  13. Fill the ixture in the potato skins.
  14. Place in the oven and bake till the top starts to brown, about 15 minutes.
  15. Sprikle the reamining ¼ cup of cheese over the top and return to the oven.
  16. When the cheese starts to brown, take out from the oven and cool on a rack.
  17. Sprinkle the top with thinly slices scallion.
  18. Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Asparagus Potato Chowder for a Mid-summer Dinner

A friend of mine is planning a trip to New England over the July 4th weekend, and asked me for some pointers, as I had been there three years back, during the same weekend. While talking to him, one memory that kept coming up again and again was of the awesome clam chowder I had at Bailey Island! It was not at all thick – in fact, quite watery! – but the flavour in it! Each spoonful served only to increase the greed for more… and wiping up a huge bowl was a few minutes’ job. Since, I have experimented with various combinations of milk and cream, and by now I believe I have the perfect recipe for a thin yet flavourful chowder.


And what is best, this chowder tastes equally good when made as a vegetarian option. I’m not even sure which version I prefer… the veggie version or the original clam one.

The only condition for a good chowder is that you should not mention the words ‘corn starch’ or ‘corn flour’ at all. Let alone say the words, you should not even think of them. Or any other thickening agent. The consistency has to be managed with milk, cream and cheese. And it is not difficult at all.


Feelings run strong among the fans of the different varieties of chowder. The original stuff known as New England chowder has potatoes and onions and clam, fish or corn as the main ingredients. Whereas the Manhattan chowder, its nearest rival has tomatoes in it! The true aficionados view this version with horror. In fact, in 1939, a bill was introduced in the Maine legislature making tomatoes in clam chowder illegal! 🙂
Also, there are varieties locally popularised in the names of most of the north eat states like Rhode Island, New Jersey and Delaware. And in San Francisco, it is common practice to serve chowders in a sour dough bread bowl.
So yesterday, I decided make an asparagus potato chowder. And it turned out sooo good! Isn’t it true that mascarpone cheese and heavy cream can do wonders to a dish? And I also mash some of the potato pieces to give the dish a bit of thickness without any stickiness.


And I use the bottom woody part of the asparagus to make a broth that adds to the lovely flavours of the dish.


Though traditionally chowders are served with oyster crackers, I prefer to pair it with some fresh bread as it serves as the main meal for me.


Next time I make a chowder, I’m going to be a bit more experimental, adding some celery and green peas and carrots to the mix. Though not a big fan of cooked carrots, I think the added colour could be good. Maybe just a little bit…




Asparagus Potato Chowder for a Mid-summer Dinner
Recipe type: Lunch
  • 1 lb asparagus
  • 1 large potato
  • 2 onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp grainy mustard
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 4 oz mascarpone cheese
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  1. To make the broth, cut one onion into thick wedges.
  2. Break off the woody hard bottom part of the asparagus and place in a pan along with the onion wedges.
  3. Pour six cups of water in the pan, and bring to a boil.
  4. Simmer for 30 minutes. Pass the broth through a fine sieve and keep aside.
  5. Cut the asparagus into 1 inch pieces.
  6. Peel and cut the potato into ½ inch cubes.
  7. Chop the remaining onion into small pieces.
  8. Mince the garlic.
  9. Heat a saucepan and add the butter.
  10. Add the chopped onion and fry till the ends begin to brown.
  11. Add the garlic and mustard and fry for a minute.
  12. Add the white wine and stir till most of it has evaporated.
  13. Pour the broth into the saucepan. Drop in the potato cubes.
  14. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
  15. Bring to a boil and simmer to cook covered.
  16. When the potato is cooked, mix in the mascarpone cheese.
  17. Mash some of the potato pieces into the broth.
  18. Add the heavy cream and remove from the fire.
  19. Garnish with dill fronds and serve hot with fresh baked bread.

Potato Salad – the Taste of Summer!

Finally… summer is officially here! Today is Memorial Day… the starting of beach days and spaghetti tops and sangrias and salads! A season embodied by that Nat King Cole song I love… ‘Those lazy crazy hazy days of summer… of soda and pretzels and beer…’. And of course disagree with the last line, ‘You wish that summer will always be here…’ I’m sure no one would give summer a second thought if it was always here! Okay, okay, I digress, that is topic for another post. 🙂

So talking about summers and salads, what would you consider the most basic salad? For me, it is potato salad. I can never get tired of it, especially as it can be prepared in many many variations. In fact, I’m sure each person will have their own favourite version of it.

Generally, I do not like mayo in my salads as it feels a bit heavy. So for potato salads, I prefer a mix of sour cream and lime juice. And a spot of melted butter to give it a bit more creaminess. Of course, the butter can be totally omitted without any noticeable impact, and most often I do so.

As a rule, I use red potatoes for making a salad. Even though the potatoes are peeled, I like to leave one or two unpeeled so that you get a glimpse of the red skin here and there. Looks pretty!

And I do have a secret ingredient which gives the potato salad a very nice tingly bite… celery seeds! Just a pinch is sufficient to give the salad that added taste of freshness. And of course, if you want to give it some additional kick, you can always go with finely minced pickled jalapenos!

Potato salad looks very pretty served on lettuce leaves. My favourite for this purpose is iceberg lettuce. The leaves sure add a delicious crunch to the salad. And don’t forget that lemony sangria to complete the lovely summer feeling!




Potato Salad – the Taste of Summer!
  • 8 red potatoes
  • 3 spring onions
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp butter, optional
  • 1 tsp dill weed
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp celery seeds
  • 4 ribs celery
  • 1 orange and 1 yellow bell peppers
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  1. Peel 6 of the potatoes. Cut the potatoes into ½ inch cubes, two of them with skin on.
  2. Boil the potatoes in salted water, till done. Drain and keep aside.
  3. Thinly slice the spring onions, white and green parts,
  4. Finely chop the celery.
  5. Cut the bell peppers into very small cubes.
  6. Mix together the boiled potato pieces, spring onions, lime juice, butter (if using), dill, sugar and celery seeds. Cover and keep aside till time to serve.
  7. To serve, add the celery, bell peppers and sour cream to the potato mixture and mix well.
  8. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Ready to serve!