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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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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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Welcome to 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. Thanks so much for visiting.

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