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May 1, 2014

Chili paste with garlic (Recipe: spicy chicken balls)

Originally published in January 2008, this updated ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. I still love chili paste with garlic best of all the ingredients in my pantry. I make these chicken balls small enough for bite-size appetizers, and they're so flavor-packed that they don't even need a dipping sauce. You could go larger, and serve them with noodles or rice.

Spicy chicken balls, a great appetizer. #appetizer

With the new year comes wisdom, and, at last, I have an answer to the question of the ages:

What's your favorite pantry item?

Oh. You were expecting another question. Something along the lines of what is the meaning of life? Why is the Earth round? Why did the chicken cross the road?

Here in The Perfect Pantry, I'm often asked about my favorite pantry item. So here it is, my favorite, the one thing I'd choose if I had to choose just one thing.

Chili paste with garlic.

Even as I write this, I'm mentally checking the pantry shelf. I know I have at least three jars -- a kind of chili paste security blanket -- plus the open jar in the refrigerator. Whew. Enough.

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March 30, 2014

Recipe for slow cooker chicken curry with sweet potatoes, tomato and raisins {gluten-free}

Slow cooker chicken curry (The Perfect Pantry).

On its way to becoming a traditional chicken korma -- curry in a tomato and yogurt sauce -- this slow cooker chicken curry veered off the path, and I'm so glad it did. Chicken korma isn't a fiery hot curry like vindaloo, but because I like heat, I used hot curry powder instead of mild. And then I realized I wanted sweet heat, so I added raisins and agave nectar to bring the curry into balance. Like all curries, this dish is very accommodating; if you prefer chicken breast, use that (but cut the cooking time slightly). If you don't like sweet potato, try red-skinned potatoes. Play with the sweet and heat to your own taste by adjusting the curry powder (use mild instead of hot), red pepper flakes (more or less than the recipe specifies), and agave.

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March 11, 2014

Recipe for beef, asparagus and scallions negimaki-style

Beef, asparagus and scallions negimaki style (The Perfect Pantry).

A package of thin-sliced beef in the refrigerator put me in the mood for negimaki, one of my favorite Japanese restaurant appetizers. I had every intention of wrapping the beef around scallions to make the traditional negimaki roll, but I only had a couple of skinny scallions on hand. As luck would have it, I found a couple of thin asparagus, too. I trimmed the vegetables to the same length, and tossed them into a casserole dish to marinate with the beef for an hour. However, when the time came to roll everything together, impatience won out. My panini press grilled the meat and vegetables flat in just two minutes; the broiler or a stove-top grill pan would work just as well. This dish has all of negimaki's salty-sweet teriyaki flavor, in a more casual presentation. I served it for lunch with a bowl of steamed rice.

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February 18, 2014

Tofu and Brussels sprouts fried rice recipe {vegan}

Tofu and Brussels sprouts fried rice (#vegan), from The Perfect Pantry.

To be honest, if it weren't for my occasional complete and utter laziness in the kitchen, I might never have considered Brussels sprouts for any stir-fry dish. Yes, it's easy to trim the woody bottoms of a few sprouts and thinly slice them for this recipe, but it's even easier to grab a package of shaved Brussels sprouts from the grocery store shelf. I'm not a huge fan of cruciferous vegetables, so to get them into my diet, I cook them with seasonings I know I will like. There are a dozen fried rice recipes on The Perfect Pantry, and now a baker's dozen, as this tofu and Brussels sprouts fried rice is going into permanent rotation in my kitchen. With a quick stir-fry, the sprouts turn bright green and sweet, making them irresistible, even to me. If you don't like tofu, you can swap in any other protein (shrimp, pork, even leftover rotisserie chicken). Remember to cook your rice ahead of time, so it can cool; you can make it days ahead, and store it in the refrigerator. If your rice is pre-cooked, and you sneak into the grocery store for a package of shaved Brussels sprouts, this dish comes together in minutes.

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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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