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A note to readers: For the next several months, a bit of medical mischief (new hips! new knees!) will knock me off my feet. To get ready, I've been cooking up a storm, and I have a summer's worth of brand new recipes to share with you. Though I might not be in the kitchen or scouring local markets for new pantry ingredients, and blog posts might not always reach you on their usual days, I'll be here, responding to comments, answering questions, and working on ebooks. (Truth? I'll probably be reading legal thrillers and binge-watching Modern Family, and maybe Mad Men, again.) To make sure you never miss a recipe, use the box at right to sign up for free email updates.

May 17, 2015

Quick and easy sugar crusty banana muffins

Quick and easy sugar crusty banana muffins [ThePerfectPantry.com].

One Saturday morning, a fresh batch of banana muffins came out of the oven. The aroma wafted up, up, up, into the apartment above. And down, down, down came a mysterious thumping on the staircase. I grabbed my handy grandma-cam, and managed to snap a few photos of the mystery intruder. Aha: The Case of the Missing Sugar Crusty Banana Muffin Bite solved! That's probably all the endorsement you need for these irresistible muffins, except that they're super-easy to make if you have a ready-for-the-compost couple of bananas sitting on the countertop. Sugar on top makes them crusty; if you'd like to cut back on the sugar, add the cinnamon to the batter and eliminate the final topping. Cinnamon and banana, plus good-quality pure vanilla extract, gives these muffins a bit of Caribbean flavor to start your day. The dozen muffins I baked for breakfast disappeared in minutes.

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May 16, 2015

Sesame: like or dislike?

Sesame

Welcome to Like or Dislike, where you get to share how you really feel about ingredients from the pantry, ingredients I'm thinking about adding to my pantry, other seasonal foods, and favorite cooking gear. The things you like are sure to find their way to the recipes here on The Perfect Pantry, so do tell.

Sesame oil adds just the right amount of nuttiness to salad dressings and stir-fry dishes. Sesame seeds add a crusty crunch to breads and crackers, and they are the main component of halvah. I love to use sesame seeds to garnish my Asian stir-fries, which often have a bit of sesame oil in the sauce. I couldn't make hummus without tahini (sesame paste), and I love scallion bread, which gets a distinctive flavor from sesame oil. Sesame has a distinctive flavor; not everyone loves it. Do you use sesame seeds or oil, or both, in your cooking or baking? (Oh, and let's not forget the whole "Open, sesame" thing!)

Sesame: like or dislike?

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May 13, 2015

Easy rice pilaf

Rice pilaf, easy to make in 20 minutes, makes a perfect side dish for anything off the grill.

Now that my husband Ted and I have moved back to Boston, we miss more than ever the long-closed Cedars Restaurant that used to live at the end of our street. Cedars served Middle Eastern food in a space that reminded you of your favorite aunt's kitchen, with formica tables and frilly curtains, and velvet paintings on the walls. We almost always ordered the garlic chicken on skewers, and it always came with a mound of rice pilaf on the side. If you have access to a Middle Eastern market, you can buy authentic chayrere, the thin vermicelli-like noodles, or look for fine egg noodles in the supermarket. Or, buy the thinnest vermicelli pasta you can find, and break it into two-inch pieces. The remaining ingredients come straight from your pantry. Make a pot of this rice ahead of time, and reheat in the microwave. It's the perfect side dish for anything you throw on the grill.

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May 10, 2015

Asparagus-a-rama! The Perfect Pantry's favorite asparagus recipes

The Perfect Pantry's picks for favorite asparagus dishes of the season. [ThePerfectPantry.com]

And we're off! At long last, asparagus season has come to New England, and there's no better time to freshen up your stash of recipes. In our house, the next six weeks mean all asparagus, all the time. Here are some of the dishes we'll be enjoying this year. For lots more ideas, please check out my Asparagus! board on Pinterest, where you'll find hundreds of recipes collected by more than 30 food blogging friends, and this list of 101 favorite asparagus recipes I compiled a few years ago.

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May 9, 2015

Flowers on the dining table: like or dislike?

Daffodils

Welcome to Like or Dislike, where you get to share how you really feel about ingredients from the pantry, ingredients I'm thinking about adding to my pantry, other seasonal foods, and favorite cooking gear. The things you like are sure to find their way to the recipes here on The Perfect Pantry, so do tell.

You wouldn't think there could be anyone who doesn't love flowers on the dining table, would you? I have a love/hate relationship with tabletop flower arrangements. I love the way flowers can bring a dining table to life, echoing the colors of the dishes, linens, and even the walls in the room. I also dislike strong floral aromas that can overwhelm the food, stuff up your nose, and cast a smell of perfume everywhere. I love little tiny pots of flowers at each place setting -- flowers that don't have a strong aroma. I dislike flower arrangements so tall that you can't see the person sitting across from you. How do you feel?

Flowers on the dining table: like or dislike?

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my tiny kitchen in Boston's South End, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives. Thanks so much for visiting.

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