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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.

October 11, 2015

Grandma's beef brisket {gluten-free}

Grandma's beef brisket, braised in red wine until it practically falls apart!

Over the years I've told you a bit about my maternal grandmother, a rabbi's wife, lifelong vegetarian and Kosher cook who could add columns of numbers going up as well as down (when I was a kid, I thought this was pure genius), and who indulged her family with recipes like this simple preparation for beef brisket. It is, and has always been, my favorite, not just of her sizeable culinary repertoire, but also of all of the many ways I've cooked brisket in my own kitchen. Since I first shared this recipe with you in December 2006, I've probably made it at least fifty times. How's that for a recommendation? This time, I remembered to take photos. (P.S.: A reader wrote to me years ago and said she wanted to make this recipe, but without the red wine. I responded that she could substitute beef broth, but then it wouldn't be my grandma's recipe. By replacing the sweet Manischewitz wine with dry red wine, I've pushed as far as I can go. So feel free to make this without the wine, but it won't be grandma's beef brisket. It will be your brisket, and that's okay.)

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October 10, 2015

Instant-read thermometer: like or dislike?

Instant read thermometer' photo from Amazon.com.

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.

As confident a cook as I am, I don't take chances when it comes to large cuts of meat, chickens, or my Thanksgiving turkey. Before The Downsizing and the move from country to city, I had a lovely thermometer that sits in the meat as it cooks (though I often forgot to insert it at the beginning of the cooking time, and had to make a mid-roast stab), but at the moment, I can't find it. So I'm back to relying on my two easy-to-use instant-read thermometers, one in a white sheath, and one in red. I can stick them into anything, even loaves of bread, any time. It used to be very cool for chefs to carry these in their pockets (where they now probably carry their smart phones). Are you an instant-read thermometer lover?

Instant-read thermometer: like or dislike?

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October 7, 2015

Three Sisters soup {vegan, gluten-free}

Three Sisters soup combines beans, corn and squash. Make ahead and freeze, from The Perfect Pantry.

Five years ago, I shared a version of this Native American Three Sisters Soup on my soup blog, and because I believe in the magic of the Three Sisters (beans, squash and corn, planted together in a mutually supportive ecosystem), I thought I'd freshen up the recipe and post it here. After all, who couldn't use some magic in their life? The power of this soup begins in the field: the beans climb onto the corn, and return nitrogen to the soil; the squash, nourished by the beans, provides shade to the shallow roots of the corn plants and keeps the weeds down. Native Americans believe that since these three foods protect each other while growing, they will protect whoever eats them together. The apple cider adds sweetness that a splash of cider vinegar balances nicely. If you're looking for a great make-ahead-and-freeze soup, put this one on your list. You never know when you'll need a little bit of magic.

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October 4, 2015

White bean and sun-dried tomato dip or sandwich spread {vegan, gluten-free}

White bean and sun-dried tomato dip makes a great sandwich filling, too! #vegan #glutenfree

Over the summer, I spent a few days here and there in the hospital, getting some parts replaced. In my hospital bag I'd packed a small notebook where I write down ideas for recipes to try (I always have a notebook with me; I'm old-fashioned that way), and a couple of weeks ago I was reading through those notes with my grandson Aiden, who has a bit of interest in cooking and likes to cook with me. When I read my note about this recipe -- written under the influence of a serious dose of anesthesia -- Aiden laughed out loud, because what I'd written was, white bean and sun-dried tomato thing with interesting spices. What, he asked, were interesting spices, and what was a thing? Fair enough questions, and this recipe turned out to be the answer. The spices could be any combination of what you like: cumin and coriander, thyme and oregano, harissa with cinnamon, but I chose to go a smoky, slighty spicy route. The dip is great with cucumber slices, and works just as well tucked into a pita with those cucumbers, plus crispy lettuce and some black olives. If you have your own slow-roasted tomatoes in the freezer, by all means swap those for the sun-dried tomatoes, and the dip will be even better.

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October 3, 2015

Panko: like or dislike?


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.

Have you tried cooking with panko, the flaky bread crumbs that sound like a dance step, and make your fried chicken and onion rings and tempura crunchier on the outside? Once the domain of restaurants and Asian markets, panko is easy to find these days in the regular grocery store or online. It keeps for months if stored in an airtight container, and once you have it in your pantry, you just might start using it for everything (eggplant parm, anyone?). Do you love panko on baked salmon, like I do, or on chicken nuggets? Or is panko new to you?

Panko: like or dislike?

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Welcome to The Perfect Pantry®

  • 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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