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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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October 15, 2014

Slow cooker spicy shredded beef with soy, ginger and garlic

Spicy shredded beef with garlic and ginger makes a perfect rice bowl topping.

If there were a contest for Brisket Queen, I'd toss my tongs into the ring. I've shared so many beef brisket recipes with you, starting with my grandmother's brisket, barbecue brisket, Mediterranean brisket, apple cider brisket, hoisin brisket, Pakistani brisket, and Southwestern brisket, that I deserve the title and a sparkly little crown. Just when I thought I'd done it all, however, I remembered this spicy Asian brisket, with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and chili paste. I make it in the slow cooker, using my new method of cutting the meat into quarters and browning the edges (more pieces, more edges, more wonderful chewy bits when you shred the meat). This is a super-simple, slightly salty, slightly spicy brisket, perfect served on a rice bowl with any steamed vegetables. Crunchy snow peas provide a nice contrast; broccoli, bok choy, or green beans are good, too. If you have a sweet tooth, you can add a spoonful of brown sugar near the end of the cooking. There's sugar in dark soy sauce, and that's plenty for me, but you can (and should) adjust to your own taste.

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October 1, 2014

Pear and pluot chutney with raisins and ginger {vegan, gluten-free}

Turkey and cheese roll-ups with pear and pluot chutney.

In my house, Thanksgiving comes twice a year: once in mid-October, when we celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving with my husband Ted's family, and again in November, when the Americans take their turn. It wouldn't be Canadian Thanksgiving without my sister-in-law's decorated baked potato turkeys, maple-leaf printed napkins, little paper Canadian flags on toothpicks scattered here and there, and moose-shaped cookies. We do love our traditions. Every year, I cook turkey and mashed potatoes and apple pie, and from the harvest from our pear trees, I make mildly-peppery tart chutney to serve alongside the more traditional cranberry sauce. A few weeks ago, I found some wonderful pluots at the market and thought they'd make a sweet counterpart to the pears. A pluot is a cross between a plum and an apricot; sometimes they're sold as plumcots. If you can't find them at your market, substitute ripe plums in this recipe. Chutney, an Indian condiment often served with curries, likes to "bloom" for a few weeks in the refrigerator in order to reach its peak flavor. Make it now, and it will be perfect for whichever Thanksgiving you celebrate. (In the photo above, I've slathered it on a turkey and provolone roll-up.)

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September 28, 2014

Slow cooker Korean-style chicken

Slow cooker Korean-style chicken. #crockpot

Ever since Ken, a long-time reader of The Perfect Pantry, sent me a pile of Hawaiian cookbooks a couple of months ago, I've been having a wonderful time reading recipes and learning more about the island's multicultural cuisine. The book I reach for most often, Hurry Up and Wait: Hawaii's Favorite Recipes for the Pressure Cooker and the Slow Cooker, has yellow stickies on dozens of pages. When the oven is occupied with roasting and baking, both the slow cooker and the pressure cooker get pressed into service in my kitchen. I used my pressure cooker to make Hawaiian sweet potato salad, and the slow cooker to cook a batch of this chicken. If you like Korean barbecue, you'll love this dish, which mimics the spicy-salty barbecue flavor. I always have chicken breasts in the freezer, so I use those instead of thighs. The chicken is delicious hot, as the star of a rice bowl, but I think it's even better cold, sliced and served with crunchy munchy vegetables like crisp celery sticks, bell pepper strips, green beans or snap peas -- and that makes it perfect for take-to-work lunch.

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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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