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February 27, 2014

Recipe for Mediterranean beef brisket (pressure cooker, slow cooker or stovetop)

Mediterranean beef brisket, made fast (in the pressure cooker) or slow.

When I was a little girl, I witnessed a pressure cooker explosion in my grandmother's kitchen. I can't remember exactly what it was that ended up on her ceiling, but the impression that experience left on me remains, to this day, one of my kitchen nightmares. In a million years, I never expected to be in close promixity to a pressure cooker again, yet thanks to my friend Kalyn, I not only own an electric pressure cooker, but I'm kind of falling in love with it. The first time I pulled the machine out of the box, I made a batch of black beans, without presoaking, in less than an hour. They were perfect, and my kitchen did not blow up. As I learn more about this machine and how to make it work for me, I'm trying a few more recipes. Some have worked, and some have not, but one I really love (and made several times to get the timing right) is this beef brisket with Provencal-style seasoning. Cook it fast, in the pressure cooker, or cook it slow. Like all brisket, it's better on the second day. Now, tell me: do you use a pressure cooker?

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February 11, 2014

Spicy rice noodle stir-fry recipe

Spicy rice noodle stir fry.

When I first encountered banh pho dried rice noodles -- the noodles often sold as pad Thai noodles, or rice vermicelli -- I thought they were, well... astonishing. After a brief soak in a bowl of warm water, these brittle, opaque noodles got tossed directly into a wok -- no boiling, can you imagine? -- where the heat softened them to chewy perfection in just a minute or two. Wow. Everything, sauce and noodles, cooked in the same pot, and that made a believer out of me. The noodles have no real flavor of their own, and happily soak up any sauce and spices that surround them. This recipe is a template for all kinds of rice noodle stir-fry dishes. Swap turkey, chicken or pork for the beef; add snow peas or bok choy, or any vegetables you have on hand. Banh pho keeps in the pantry cupboard for a year or more, and offers a easy, inexpensive, gluten-free alternative to wheat noodles.

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January 21, 2014

Recipe for sweet and sour beef cabbage soup

Sweet and sour beef cabbage soup (The Perfect Pantry).

After a day cooking stuffed cabbage rolls, I had everything left over: cooked rice, tomato juice, mirepoix vegetables (carrots, onions and celery), and some ground beef. Immediately I reached for the soup pot and began tossing in the odds and ends. With a tweak in proportions, and the addition of lemon and brown sugar, the stuffed cabbage ingredients rematerialized as a hearty sweet and sour beef cabbage soup. My husband Ted instantly proclaimed it "Blogworthy!", which is how we categorize recipes good enough to share with you. This is a forgiving soup; if you don't have tomato juice, use beef broth. If you're out of green cabbage, try red, or Savoy, or bok choy. Swap in ground turkey or chicken for the beef, or chop up some leftover rotisserie chicken. Add barley instead of rice. The soup freezes well, which makes it perfect for Soup Swap.

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January 19, 2014

Recipe for Polish stuffed cabbage rolls (golabki)

Polish stuffed cabbage rolls (make ahead and freeze), from The Perfect Pantry.

Being of Polish heritage, I have golabki in my soul. Pronounced gaw-WUMP-key, the name means little pigeons, though what that has to do with stuffed cabbage is a mystery to me, especially since the cabbage rolls are so substantial they'd sooner sink than fly. I'm trying to eat more cooked cabbage dishes this year, because cabbage is full of the fiber that helps lower cholesterol and has other health benefits. Stuffed cabbage rolls -- filled with meat (beef or turkey) and rice (or barley) -- are a healthy main dish to make ahead and freeze. You can tweak the filling with herbs and spices, and change up the braising liquid; I like to use V-8 juice, which adds a bit of extra zing to the sauce.

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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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