Purple Peru Stew

Purple potatoes? Yup. Popular in Peru. This beef stew serves 4 plus leftovers. Brown 3 lbs. chuck stew meat in a little olive oil in a large stock pot. Brown in stages and remove meat to a bowl. Saute one chopped onion and one sliced leek in the pot until brown, deglaze with 1/2 cup red wine vinegar. Add the beef back in. Stir in 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. coriander, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. cayenne, 1 tsp. garlic powder, ground black pepper, salt to taste. Add 2 small thinly sliced aji amarillo or other hot peppers. Check for heat, adjust accordingly. Simmer for 1 hour.

While meat is simmering, par-boil 6 peeled purple potatoes. Cool. Cut into 1″ chunks. Add potatoes, 3 sliced carrots, 1 sliced parsnip, another sliced leek. Add a little chicken or vegetable broth if getting dry. Stir and simmer another hour. Warm up for dinner later, or cool and refrigerate. Better the next day. In summer, add fresh corn kernels.

I totally made this recipe up, so don’t blame anybody from Peru.


Mad Monkfish

Our fishmonger brought in beautiful fresh monkfish loins. It’s a dense, meaty tough challenge. A moist braise is the key. Most fish gets dry with more roasting. Quite the opposite with this angler.

For 2. Cut a 1 lb. filet cross-wise into 2″ medaillons. Sprinkle with ground black pepper, garlic powder. In a heavy skillet, sear them on all sides in olive oil on medium high heat. Add 1 finely minced shallot, and 1/4 cup  butter, deglaze with 1/2 cup dry white wine or broth. Reduce to simmer. Add juice of 1 lemon, 1 cup Cento coarsely chopped tomatoes (drained), a little dried basil and pepperoncini flakes to taste, 3 tbs. capers and/or chopped black olives. Cover, continue to simmer for 15 minutes.

Serve with crostini or pasta. Rasputin would be proud.


Dinner for 2. Preheat oven to 400. Slice 2 large zucchinis lengthwise. Place them in a pan skin-side down. Drizzle olive oil over them, sprinkle with ground black pepper and garlic powder. Roast for 15-20 minutes until soft inside. Shred leftover roast chicken on top of the zucchini halves, top with shredded cheddar or jack cheese and pop under the broiler for a couple minutes until the cheese is melted. Serve with sliced jalapeños and salsa. Yum.

Could use leftover flank steak instead of the chicken. Veggies can just skip the meat, sub sautéed beans, of course.

Chicken Bones

In my quest for new recipes, I’m testing all the time. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are tough. Literally. It’s near impossible to cook them through while keeping the texture moist. When I substituted boneless skinless breasts for skin-on, bone-in recently, it didn’t work. Result was dry stringy chicken.

If you have a recipe that keeps the boneless, skinless breasts moist, let us know. Burmese Chicken on Meat Street page works pretty well, but it’s a slower braise. Bone-in is better, if you can put up with picking them out.

And, personally, I love crispy skin.


Dinner for breakfast. Breakfast for dinner. Either way. By Thursday, lots of leftovers. This week a lamb chop, part of a rib-eye steak. Could be chicken or pork. So, making a hash-like side with scrambled eggs.

Chop leftover meat into small pieces. Also chop half a red or yellow onion, a red or any color pepper. If there are other leftovers that make sense, like potatoes, mushrooms, chop up, too. In a skillet, sauté them all in a little olive oil and sprinkle with black pepper, a dash of thyme. Set the hash-ish in a bowl and put on warm in the oven. Use the same skillet to fry up scrambled eggs with dried chives and leftover swiss or cheddar shredded on top. Serve eggs and hash-ish topped with a dollop of leftover salsa.

What’s in Your Cupboard?

Check out ‘Carol’s Cupboard’ page for what I have in my pantry. Sauces, spices, basic everyday ingredients. Must-haves for me. What’s in your cupboard?

We are lucky to have great neighborhood markets, so shop often for fish, meat, produce. Atkins Farm market in South Amherst has great butchers, produce, specialty foods, deli. North Shore fish and seafood store in Northampton brings in fresh catches from the coastal wharves twice weekly. Frigo’s Italian market in Springfield has veal, formaggi, prepared classics.

Local farm stands and farmers’ markets are seasonal staples. Hadley “grass” asparagus, red leaf, Boston lettuces, corn, tomatoes, peppers, onions, potatoes are all native to our fertile Connecticut River Valley.

6 Minute Scampi

Always perfect from the late great Pierre Franey. I make 6-8 shrimp per person. The following assumes 16, so adjust amounts accordingly:

Jumbo fresh shrimp, larger the better, peeled, cleaned and deveined. Pat dry. In a medium bowl, toss shrimp with 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 tbs. minced garlic, 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp. dried crushed oregano. I rub dried herbs between my palms for extra flavor. You can add 3 tbs. coarsely ground croutons, or breadcrumbs. I don’t, but hey it’s what you like. Refrigerate covered until ready to cook or, pop them under the broiler right away.

Method is key. Preheat broiler to high, rack on top level. Place coated shrimp on non-stick cookie sheet, not touching. Spoon any leftover olive oil mixture on top of each. Squeeze juice of one fresh lemon over the shrimp. Broil for 6 minutes. That’s it. Don’t turn. Perfecto. Fan favorite.

If you don’t like garlic, it’s not Scampi, but it’ll work anyway. Use salt and pepper, chopped chives or parsley instead. Serve with fresh pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, basil. Or, tell me…