New from the archives: four fresh posts (Recipes: Floribean chicken chili, rotini with spicy meat sauce, tomato-nectarine chutney, kicked-up gingerbread)
Every month since early summer, I've been traveling back in time, making a few dishes from the first two years of The Perfect Pantry, in the days before I photographed the food I cooked.
I'm really having fun cooking some of my favorite dishes again, with some of my favorite pantry ingredients, and while I'm back in the archives, I'm also updating the recipes and links.
In our house, Chinese food rules. Because we don't get authentic Chinese food very often, we create dishes that pair Chinese condiments, like our favorite chili paste with garlic, with everyday ingredients from our American pantry. Rotini with spicy meat sauce is the happiest of marriages between East and West, and it's one of our all-time favorite comfort food dishes.
If, on the other hand, you're providing comfort food for a crowd -- perhaps a football-watching crowd? -- this Floribean chicken chili will be perfect. A bit of tomato paste adds richness, and lime and chipotle peppers in adobo give it that Caribbean zazzle. You can cook it way ahead and freeze it, and you can substitute leftover turkey or rotisserie chicken to make this easy dish even easier.
Sometimes it just takes one ingredient to take a dessert from good to great. In the case of this kicked-up gingerbread, small bits of crystallized ginger bring texture and crunch to a boxed mix.
And if you're already planning your Thanksgiving menu, think about tomato-nectarine chutney (in the top photo), made with cider vinegar, as an alternative to cranberry sauce, or mixed with a bit of mayonnaise on leftover turkey sandwiches the next day. You can make chutney now, as it needs a few weeks in the refrigerator to mellow to perfection.