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March 18, 2015

Spicy beef, bok choy, and bell pepper stir-fry

Spicy beef, bok choy and bell pepper stir fry: the ultimate comfort food.

For some people, comfort food means mac and cheese, or meatloaf and mashed potatoes. For me, a spicy stir-fry soothes the spirit, and just the act of cooking one, the chopping and prepping and tossing and stirring, calms me down. It's been a crazy month as we've moved from country to city. We're settling in quickly, thanks in no small part to my husband Ted's hard work and tireless box-lugging, and I've been breaking in the kitchen by cooking my own brand of comfort food dishes. Now that I live a few blocks from Ming's, a great Asian supermarket, I can find hard-to-find vegetables like baby bok choy, which is the perfect size for stir-fry recipes like this one. To prepare it, simply slice each little head in half lengthwise. Of course you can use a regular head of bok choy, and cut it into large pieces, or even substitute another type of cabbage. And you can swap chicken or tofu for the beef. Chili paste with garlic, oyster sauce and soy sauce combine for my favorite stir-fry flavoring, and to my way of thinking, there's really no substitute for it.

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March 4, 2015

Grilled curry chicken with chutney and rice {gluten-free}

Use your panini press or broiler to grill this easy curry chicken.

The weather outside has been frightful, but chicken cooked on a grill is always delightful. If you like to stand outside in your coat, scarf and mittens and tend the grill, my hat's off to you. However, a grill pan on the stove or, in this case, a panini press, can give you that grill char you love, without suffering in the cold for it. The secret to great curry chicken is a long marinade, so start this recipe in the morning for dinner, or even the night before. Toss together the marinade ingredients, and pour them over the chicken. Refrigerate, and it will be ready to grill when you're ready. You can broil this in the oven, but a grill pan or panini press will give you those beautiful marks as well as the smoky grill flavor. Double the recipe, while you've got the grill heated; you can refrigerate or even freeze the leftovers for sandwiches, stews and curries. What a great way to banish winter.

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February 1, 2015

Thai pineapple fried rice {vegetarian}

Thai pineapple fried rice, with curry, cashews and raisins.

The continuing process of pantry downsizing and clean-out, in preparation for our move from country to city in a couple of weeks, has energized my cooking. Recently, my cleaning yielded a huge bag of jasmine rice (who knew?) and an almost equally large bag of curry powder, never opened. When a grocery delivery came with a free pineapple, I took it as a sign, and began to pull together the rest of the ingredients for this Thai fried rice. Although the dish typically contains fish sauce, I used soy sauce to keep it vegetarian. (For gluten-free, substitute tamari or other gluten-free soy sauce.) If you have time, make the rice ahead, and refrigerate it for a few hours, or overnight, or days in advance; you'll have a much less gluey fried rice. Canned pineapple (not in syrup) can swap in for fresh, and currants can stand in for raisins. Like all fried rice variations, this one is flexible; it's the combination of soy (or fish) sauce with curry powder that sets it apart.

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November 28, 2014

Spicy turkey, bell pepper and noodle stir-fry

Spicy turkey, bell pepper and noodle stir fry: make it with leftover turkey and lots of heat.

Two things about our typical Thanksgiving feast contribute to my craving for this particular way to use leftovers: the meal is overwhelmingly brown (turkey, potatoes, gravy, stuffing), and it's overwhelmingly family-friendly and spicy-free. So, after cooking and eating brown food for days, all I want is heat. Spicy heat. Chile pepper heat. And a little bit of bright color. Oh, and noodles. So easy to accomplish with leftover shredded turkey, dried noodles from the pantry, and a few other fridge bits.

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November 5, 2014

Curried butternut squash and apple soup {vegan, gluten-free}

Curried butternut squash and apple soup, with Thai flavors. #glutenfree #vegan

In our house, Fall doesn't begin officially until the first pot of butternut squash soup hits the stove. Most often, I combine butternut (my favorite, though buttercup, acorn or Hubbard are wonderful substitutes) with apples from our local orchards, and bind them together with Indian curry spices like cumin, coriander and turmeric. Lately, I've been craving the raw heat of Thai red curry paste, and that sent this year's butternut squash soup in a new direction. (The recipe calls for a tablespoon of curry paste, which won't make the soup very spicy, but please use half that amount if you're worried about too much heat. You can always add more.) The thick and creamy soup is vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free, thanks to coconut milk. A little bit of brown sugar and a hit of fresh lime juice add a light, bright finish. If you're doing a soup swap this winter, put this soup on your make-ahead-and-freeze list.

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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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