April 28, 2013

Recipe for roasted red pepper, basil and parmesan johnnycakes {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Mini roasted red pepper, basil and parmesan cheese johnnycakes, a gluten-free appetizer.

Until I moved to Rhode Island a decade ago, I'd never heard of johnnycakes (which are also spelled jonnycakes, so let's get that out of the way up front). Johnnycakes, made of cornmeal and gluten-free, are to Rhode Islanders what pancakes are to the rest of the world. Most often they're served just like pancakes, with butter and a glug of local maple syrup. These savory two-bite roasted red pepper, basil and parmesan johnnycakes fit nicely into the end of the day, as a cocktail party appetizer or snack at a barbecue. As with any recipe that has just a few ingredients, be sure to use the best cheese, basil and pepper you can find. Serve them hot off the griddle, and spell them whichever way you like.

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March 28, 2013

Lemon caper deviled eggs recipe {vegetarian}

Lemon caper deviled eggs, perfect for Easter or summer parties.

Sometimes we overlook the obvious, the recipes that seem so simple, too simple, and we forget that those simple recipes often are really, really good. So there we were, my husband Ted and I, stuck in the house with a storm on the way. I'd planned to cook a few recipes to share with you, and I opened the refrigerator to start pulling out ingredients. That's when I saw the eggs, already hard-boiled. How could I resist deviled eggs? I always have lemons and capers in the pantry, and some fresh parsley (or dill) was a perfect addition. These deviled eggs came together in minutes, and, as it turned out, resistance was futile. Before we knew it, Ted and I had devoured the entire batch. Lemon caper deviled eggs will be a sure hit on your holiday menu.

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February 12, 2013

Recipe for red curry shrimp dumplings

Dunk these red curry shrimp dumplings in a sesame dipping sauce.

Buried in the deepest corner of my freezer, an "emergency" bag of shrimp and vegetable dumplings waits for the times when I crave dumplings and nothing else will do. The dumplings I buy from the Chinese market are okay, not great, not sensuous like these spicy, salty, red curry shrimp dumplings. I can microwave the storebought dumplings in a couple of minutes and get my fix, but it doesn't take all that much longer to create these one-bite shrimp dumplings from scratch, especially with all of the ingredients sitting in my pantry. The technique is the same one I use to cook potstickers: pan fry the dumplings to get a nice chewy crust on the bottom; then, steam them in the same pan to finish the cooking. Once you master the method, you can build your own dumplings with wonton skins and any mix of fillings (chicken, cabbage, tofu) you have on hand.

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February 7, 2013

Recipe for BLT turkey meatballs

BLT turkey meatballs, stuffed in a sandwich or served as an appetizer.

Just when I thought I'd made every turkey meatball under the sun, I spied a few strips of leftover cooked bacon from a spinach salad, and voila! BLT turkey meatballs. The essential components of a classic bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich are all here: bacon, of course; sun-dried or slow-roasted tomatoes; parsley standing in for the lettuce; mayonnaise; and bread (crumbs). Form the meatballs small, and serve them as an appetizer. Or, make them large, and stuff a pita with lettuce, tomatoes and turkey meatballs -- a BLT inside a BLT. Turkey meatballs freeze well, so if you have time, cook a double batch. You can reheat them in the microwave for sandwiches, or add to pasta for a quick worknight dinner.

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December 30, 2012

Szechuan peppercorns (Recipe: salt and pepper prawns) {gluten-free}

First published in August 2006, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos, links, and a few tweaks to the recipe. Spicy and salty, these large shrimp make a tantalizing appetizer to serve with cocktails, or as part of a larger Chinese banquet. Be warned: salt and pepper prawns are highly (and delightfully) addictive.

Szechuan salt and pepper prawns will spice up any party.

File this under "explorations in an ethnic market where you don't speak the language and can't read the package labels and you've wandered up and down the aisles and looked and looked and know what you want is somewhere in the store but you cannot find it."

So you ask everyone in the market, which by the way is in Boston's Chinatown, "Do you have szechuan peppercorns?" Blank stares. You try different pronounciations — sesh-wan, setch-wan, setch-u-on. Pep-per-corn. Pep-pah (the Boston dialect).

Nobody speaks English.

Nobody understands your pantomime.

Fair enough. After all, you are the only one there who doesn't speak the language.

Frustrated but determined, you ask your husband Ted to bring his Chinese friend Margaret to the market to search for these peppercorns. A few days later on their lunch break, they go -- but they come home empty-handed, too. Which, frankly, makes you feel a teensy bit better.

This is a true story, by the way. It happened in 1998.

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About 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.

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