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December 17, 2013

Recipe for baked samosa wontons with potato, pea and broccoli filling {vegetarian}

Baked samosa wontons filled with potatoes, peas and broccoli (The Perfect Pantry).

You've heard the saying, You never get a second chance to make a first impression. No wonder I'm always stressed when I have to prepare appetizers. Apps create excitement and anticipation, as they set the stage -- with or without drinks -- for the occasion to follow. When I serve the same old same old dips and chips, my guests are probably wondering if they're in for a ho-hum dinner. The solution to the pre-dinner blahs is a repertoire of easy, yet impressive, appetizers, like these samosa wontons. The dip is store-bought mango chutney, and the wontons are baked, not fried, so nobody starts the meal with a mouth full of grease. The traditional mashed potato and pea filling gets a kick from Madras (yellow) curry paste, which is easy to find in the Indian foods aisle of many supermarkets. You can make the filling ahead and refrigerate it. Or, make and bake the wontons ahead, and freeze them to reheat at party time. Either way, these apps, easy on the cook, will surely be a hit for your holiday entertaining.

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December 12, 2013

Brown rice (Recipe: vegetable fried rice) {vegetarian}

First published in August 2007, this updated ingredient post features new photos, links and tweaks to the recipe. When I make this dish now, I use a much larger proportion of vegetables to rice, so I've adjusted the original recipe. Make as little or as much as you wish, and use any combination of vegetables -- the more colorful, the merrier. When you're running around crazy-busy before the holidays, it's nice to have a quick stir-fry dish in your repertoire for an easy lunch or dinner.

Vegetable fried rice, with broccoli, cabbage, peppers.

I know what you're thinking.

Good grief, three quarts of brown rice! What is she doing with so much rice? Mortaring a brick patio? Filling a sandbox? Making a bean bag chair? Blind-baking a year's worth of pies???

None of the above. This brown Nishiki rice, perfect for the rice cooker to which I am unrepentantly addicted, isn't all that easy to find in the grocery store, and the smallest package in my favorite Asian market happens to be five pounds. I'm glad to have it in my pantry.

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December 10, 2013

Quick and easy Thai curry coconut soup recipe with tofu and vegetables

Quick and easy Thai green curry coconut soup (dairy free).

Every Monday at lunch time, my husband Ted surprises his office staff with soup I made on the weekend. I can't remember exactly when this Monday soup ritual began, but I love it, because I am a Sunday soup maker, a big pot soup maker, and always cook far more than the two of us need. Inspired by whatever is in the pantry, and leftovers from the weekend's cooking, I begin tossing ingredients into the stock pot. Most often, there's no plan; in this case, I knew at the outset that I wanted to make a quick and easy spicy Thai curry coconut soup. With tofu in the refrigerator, the decision to go meatless was a no-brainer. Leftover chicken or turkey, or shredded rotisserie chicken, would be a fine addition. Both coconut milk and tofu stand ready to absorb any flavors from the surrounding soup, so make sure you use enough fragrant Thai green curry paste, fresh lime and cilantro. (I like the Maesri and Mae Ploy brands of curry paste, which are all-natural.) This dairy-free soup will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator, in a container with a tight-fitting lid.

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November 12, 2013

Recipe for roasted eggplant with cumin and cilantro {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Roasted eggplant with cumin and cilantro (can be dairy-free).

A long time reader of The Perfect Pantry, Judy answered the call for vegetarian and vegan recipes for my Meatless Holidays e-book with a dish called eggplant salad (baingan bharta). When I made it for the cookbook, I envisioned it as a vegetarian or vegan main dish served with brown rice and almond pilaf, and renamed it roasted eggplant with cumin and cilantro. The original recipe calls for quite a bit of yogurt; in Judy's adaptation, she'd cut that way down, and in my version, the yogurt is completely optional, so if you're vegan, leave it out. Indian-spiced food might be a nontraditional choice for your holiday table, but recipes like this eggplant are a great option for those "blended family" occasions when turkey-lovers and turkey-avoiders come together: one person's main dish is another person's side. It's also a good make-ahead dish for worknight dinners, as the eggplant is good served hot, cold, or at room temperature. For this recipe, go ahead and buy those gigantic, deep purple eggplants you find at the market, not the thin, delicate Japanese ones.

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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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