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July 16, 2014

Slow cooker shredded hoisin beef, for sandwiches, sliders, or lettuce wraps

Slow cooker shredded beef wrapped in lettuce leaves: sweet and light.

Although the kitchen has been hot, hot, hot for the past few weeks, I'm keeping my cool, with a little help from the slow cooker. In the summer, I eat cold salads more often than not, but when I do cook, I make enough to stash in the freezer, to carry me through the dog days. This shredded hoisin beef appeals to eaters of all ages, it freezes perfectly, and it's a flexible filling for sandwiches or sliders, or light and lean lettuce wraps, depending on who wants what. Hoisin sauce contains sugar, and though rice vinegar cuts the sweetness a bit, we still call this "hoisin beef candy" in our house. When you're slow cooking to shred, please try my technique of cutting the meat into quarters, and browning each piece on all sides. With more surface area, the edges get nice and "burnt", almost like barbecue. The lip-smacking sweet sauce will dribble down your chin, also just like barbecue. Top sandwiches or wraps with some raw crunchy vegetables (I like radishes and carrots) for contrast.

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July 2, 2014

Salmon and peas fried rice

Salmon and pea fried rice, a new July Fourth tradition.

When my husband Ted and I first moved to New England, we kept hearing salmon-and-peas, salmon-and-peas, right around the July 4 holiday (which is a pretty big deal up here -- and was, even before The Boston Pops turned it into a classy sound and light show). Salmon and peas first became an item because the salmon used to run just as fresh peas came up in the garden. Even though salmon is available year-round now, the holiday tradition endures. There's no one set recipe, so you have the luxury of combining the ingredients in any way, from grilled salmon and peas sautéed in butter, to poached salmon with peas and pasta, to soup. Some leftover cold rice in the refrigerator inspired my own take on the tradition (a new tradition, perhaps?), and the fish and peas worked so well in this fried rice that I'm going to add it to my year-round repertoire. I used red onion in the rice photos here, but now that the scallions have matured in my garden, I think I'll substitute those next time, for an additional pop of green. Happy Fourth, everyone.

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June 3, 2014

Coconut peanut rice bowl with turkey, broccoli and mushrooms {gluten-free}

Rice bowl with turkey, broccoli and mushrooms in a coconut peanut sauce. #glutenfree

Early in my adult life, I realized I don't have the rice-cooking gene. No amount of measuring, and rinsing, and simmering, and steaming will help me produce a perfectly cooked pot of rice. I have proved to be equally inept with white rice, brown rice, basmati and jasmine rice, though I can make a pretty great pot of risotto. For everyday rice, I rely on my little electronic rice cooker, which never lets me down. (I use it for quinoa, too.) I like to make as much as the rice cooker will hold, and keep leftover rice in the refrigerator to make dishes like this coconut peanut rice bowl recipe, which I created for Lynne, my friend Bev's daughter, who eats gluten-free and dairy-free. You can make this recipe vegan by omitting the turkey and adding more vegetables, and make it spicier with a squirt or two of Sriracha sauce.

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May 29, 2014

Shrimp and coconut curry noodle soup

Shrimp and coconut curry noodle soup recipe. #soup

My pantry might not be 100 percent perfect, but it seldom lets me down. The cupboards, fridge and freezer harbor lots of great stuff, and when I'm in the mood to play in the kitchen, I can find inspiration on every single shelf. That's how this shrimp and coconut curry noodle soup recipe came together. Craving a bowl of tom kha gai, the popular Thai chicken coconut soup, I foraged in the pantry. In the freezer, I found shrimp instead of chicken. There was plenty of red curry paste (there always is), and coconut milk, and scallions from the garden. With the addition of some thin fideo noodles that I usually use for Middle Eastern rice pilaf, I borrowed some mushrooms bought for a different recipe, and I had my soup. A word of caution: start slowly with the red curry paste; you can always add more. I might have made my soup just a bit spicier than the recipe indicates.

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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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