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December 22, 2013

Sweet Rhode Island coffee-dunked turkey appetizer meatballs recipe (slow cooker)

Sweet coffee (decaf!) meatballs, made in the slow cooker. (The Perfect Pantry)

Did you grow up in a meatball house? In the house where I grew up, there were two kinds of meatballs: big red ones, cooked in sauce made with a packet of Spatini, and small sweet-and-sour ones, made by my dad in nothing smaller than five-pound batches. Never did we have anything approaching the sheer nirvana of these sweet Rhode Island coffee-dunked turkey appetizer meatballs. This recipe, from my e-book A Flock of Meatballs: Easy turkey recipes with around-the-world flavors, pretty much requires that you buy a bottle of real Rhode Island coffe syrup (my favorite local product, hands down, is Dave's All-Natural Decaf Coffee Syrup), used to make Rhode Island's official state drink, coffee milk. You can substitute strong brewed decaf coffee plus molasses, and it will be good, though not authentically Rhody. These meatballs freeze so well that you might want to double the quantity, and stash some for last-minute holiday appetizers.

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December 15, 2013

Recipe for steak salad with Green Goddess dressing

Steak salad with Green Goddess dressing, from The Perfect Pantry.

My husband Ted loves to shop for the holidays at the very last minute, plunging headlong into the crowds and the traffic, relishing the long lines in every store. I don't understand it, but I accept that he approaches with glee that which, to me, is pure agony. Last-minute shopping -- on top of holiday parties, concerts, The Nutcracker and other seasonal delights -- does make these final few days of the month a wee bit crazy, so one of my strategies is to keep it simple, and flexible, in the kitchen. All of the components of this old-fashioned steak salad with Green Goddess dressing (which I made for the world's very best BLT sandwich) can be prepped way ahead. So, no matter how long the lines or how slow the traffic, I can have this beautiful main dish salad on the table in just a few minutes.

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December 8, 2013

Slow cooker barbecue beef brisket recipe

Slow cooker barbecue beef brisket sandwich.

If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing until you get it right. That's true in life, in work, and in brisket. The goal? A bit of that plate-staining, chin-dripping, smoky sauce and the burnt ends that come with real barbecue, combined with the ease of the slow cooker. After a few tries, I think I nailed it. Two techniques enhance the barbecue-like quality. First, I cut the large brisket into four smaller pieces, which gave more edge to brown. Second, when the meat was cooked, I let it cool, uncovered, on the kitchen counter; the edges dried out, making it more like burnt ends from the barbecue. I sliced half of the brisket, and shredded the other half, and doused both with the sauce from the slow cooker. Drippy barbecue, tender brisket, "burnt" ends: done and done.

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December 5, 2013

Green goddess bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich recipe

Green goddess bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, outstanding at any time of year.

With a gazillion seasonal recipes flooding the Internet -- Thanksgiving and Chanukah collided last week, Christmas and New Year's recipes are piling up, and elaborately-decorated sugar cookies just might take over the planet -- I'm here to offer you, quite simply, the very best bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich I've ever tasted. I can't take credit for it; that honor belongs to Picco, a little pizza restaurant across the street from my house in Boston. Their BLT is off the menu until tomato season next summer, but I couldn't wait that long to have it again, and I don't want you to wait, either. Spring for a single out-of-season heirloom tomato at the market, if you must; this BLT is worth it. Salty, garlicky, herby green goddess dressing seduces the crisp bacon, juicy tomato and crunchy lettuce in a way that plain old mayonnaise cannot. Two pieces of toasted or grilled bread (Picco chars theirs in wood-fired ovens) hold it all together. Stairway to BLT heaven, I promise.

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About The Perfect Pantry®

  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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