When the weather heats up, my little kitchen does, too. One way to beat the heat is by using the slow cooker. No need to turn on the stove, or stand over it to stir-fry or sauté. In fact, no need to pay any attention at all for most of the day, save a few minutes of prep, and a few minutes of shredding at the end of the cooking. You can spend the rest of the day at the beach, in the pool, or reading a book. I love one-dish meals, and I love beef brisket (you might have guessed that by now), so you know how much I love this slow cooker shredded beef brisket that's salty, tangy, with a little bit of... Read more →


When it comes to slow cooker cooking, I consider myself a newbie. While my college friends were experimenting with slow cookers in their dorm rooms, I lived on tuna sandwiches. In fact, I bought my first slow cooker less than five years ago. So I've spent more time reading recipes for slow cooker dishes than actually cooking them. Now that I'm more comfortable with my slow cooker (my favorite is the Ninja Cooking System, a six-quart easy-to-clean marvel that's a crock-pot and also can do "stovetop" cooking, which means I can brown meat right in the pot), I'm paying more attention to technique, and this recipe is all about technique. Rice requires special handling in a slow cooker. To start, you need special rice, i.e.,... Read more →


What goes into a good soup? First, and most important, fearlessness! Open the refrigerator door and look around. Grab some protein (leftover cooked chicken, or sausage or tofu or hamburger meat), last night's vegetables or scraps a heartbeat away from the compost pile, some homemade broth. Root around in the pantry for canned beans, hot peppers, spices. Chop an onion. Toss everything into a pot, let it simmer for a while, and taste. Adjust with more of one ingredient or another. Have faith, because everyone can make great soup. My favorite soups come from countries where the weather is hot, and the food is hotter. In this recipe inspired by dishes I've enjoyed throughout Mexico, black beans, chile peppers, and lime take center stage. If... Read more →


I hate going to the dentist, so while I'm there, I distract myself by dreaming up recipes. Is there really anything new under the sun when it comes to corned beef and cabbage, I mused, while Christa, my wonderful dental hygienist, cleaned my teeth a few weeks ago. I got the idea for this lighter, less salty corned beef recipe as we talked (well, she talked, and I made those noises you make when your mouth is full of dental stuff). My husband Ted and I both feel this is the most interesting, tender, seductive corned beef and cabbage we've ever eaten. Pickling spice -- not the little bag that comes in the corned beef package; use fresh, robust pickling spice mix -- gives the... Read more →


Cabbage is on sale in this week before St. Patrick's Day, and if, like me, you're trying to get more cabbage into your life, now's the time to stock up and try a few new recipes. The inspiration for this dish came from one of those throwaway supermarket publications that are so easy to ignore, but occasionally have some great ideas. A fairly routine stir-fry with spicy peanut sauce, this recipe replaces noodles with shredded cabbage. So clever! I promise you'll never miss the extra carbs. If nuts are not your thing, substitute your favorite teriyaki or stir-fry sauce for the peanut sauce. Ground turkey offers an option in place of ground beef, and if you don't eat meat, try tofu instead. Stir-fried beef and... Read more →


Readers of The Perfect Pantry over the years know that the way to my husband Ted's heart has a lot to do with beef stew. This year I realized that, despite my good intentions, I forgot to make stew ahead of time for today's holiday of love. The pressure cooker -- and a game-changing new-to-me ingredient I found at a local gourmet shop -- came to my rescue. If you plan better than I do, you can make this stew on the stovetop, in the usual way. At the cheese and gourmet shop at the end of my block, I spied a small rack of what might have been test tubes, filled with a murky substance that would have looked at home in a chemistry... Read more →


What can I tell you? This Mexican-inspired green pozole beef stew zigged, and then it zagged, and in the end, it landed perfectly. In the first version I tried to incorporate a couple of cups of blue corn kernels, a gift from my friend Candy in Albuquerque. It turns out I should have pre-cooked the corn to soften it; the kernels remained hard and chewy long after the meat was tender. Hard, chewy, and a very odd blue-ish purple. In the second version, I used canned hominy, whole corn kernels that have been dried, then treated, so they look like little exploded puff balls of corn (you can buy canned hominy in the Spanish foods aisle of any supermarket). Just what this stew needed. And... Read more →