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June 6, 2010

Frozen fruit (Recipe: raspberry, lime and mint smoothie)

Raspberry smoothie recipe

I live in a fruit-challenged part of the country.

Don't get me wrong. We have fruit, just not the fruit I crave.

Ten miles up the road, in the area known as Apple Valley, you can find apples, of course, and also pears, blackberries and raspberries. Closer to my house, just a mile up the road, is Cherry Valley, but I don't know anyone who grows cherries there.

The fruit I love most -- grapes, plums, middle-of-winter casaba melons -- comes from valleys much farther away, so in order to get fresh fruit year-round, I keep flash-frozen fruit in my pantry.

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September 24, 2009

Brazil food: Cachaça (Recipe: caipirinha)

The second in an occasional series of posts over the next few weeks about Brazilian food and ingredients we discovered during our visit.


When my friend Peter told me he was moving from Rhode Island to Brazil, I understood why he was going.

He'd fallen in love with a wonderful woman from Belo Horizonte. (Some day, he'll tell you the story.)

I didn't know anything about where he was going, but I should have known that Peter, a professional chef, would land in a part of the world famous as much for its distinctive cuisine as for coffee, diamonds, and colonial architecture.

Located in the mountainous region of southeast Brazil, the state of Minas Gerais produces some of the country's finest farmhouse cheese, beef and cachaça, the fire-water alcohol used to make America's new favorite cocktail, the caipirinha.

So, when Epaminondas Pires de Miranda ("Nondas"), owner of Cachaça Velha Serrana, invited us to tour the distillery where he produces artisanal, organic cachaça, we set off for Serro, where we would meet at a gas station and follow his truck to the farm.

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July 19, 2009

Maple syrup (Recipes: maple nut bread and a maple cocktail)


Guest post and photos by Sarah in Boston.

My dad had a way of making the simplest foods into a celebration.

He spent a lot of his free time in his backyard garden, talking to robins and tilling the soil with his trusty hoe. Each garden season was met with great anticipation: the first rhubarb, green onions, beefsteak tomatoes, basketball-sized cabbage heads -- you name it, he grew it.

For each thing he grew, he created a special ritual to enjoy it, something as simple as walking around with a pocketful of salt so he could eat radishes and cucumbers right out of the garden.

He had his special ways of enjoying other foods, too, like red-skinned peanuts and cold, locally made hot dogs. He was very particular about the hot dogs. He would never eat packaged ones raw, but the ones they made at Tom’s Market he ate by the pound. If I close my eyes, I can still see him sitting at the picnic table, listening to the Detroit Tigers on the radio, with a pound of peanuts and a plastic Tupperware tub of hot dogs, watching his garden, and sometimes fiddling with his car.

Another favorite was maple syrup, and of course he created a family ceremony around the annual spring tapping of the sugar maple in our front yard.

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July 5, 2009

Tequila (Recipe: tequila-lime flank steak, grilled cherry tomato salsa, and a classic margarita)

Please welcome Bryan, who with this post joins The Perfect Pantry as a guest blogger. By day, he's an experience design consultant; he's also a former bartender who studied at the Boston University Wine Resource Center. Bryan is passionate about local and sustainable food, dabbles in photography, and makes a mean mojito. He’s here to to raid that other kitchen cubbyhole most of us have: the liquor cabinet.


Guest post and photos by Bryan in Boston.

I used to bartend some years back at a jazz club, and at the end of my shift it was a habit of mine to mix up a tall, classic margarita.

I’m not talking about what passes for a marg at the neighborhood Chili’s, made with dash of Jose Cuervo, a bit of triple sec, and two or three glugs of sugary sour mix. This was the real deal: 100% blue agave tequila, Cointreau, topped up with freshly squeezed lime juice, rimmed with salt crystals the size of small stones.

The jazz club doubled as a restaurant. Nothing fancy, really -- steak tips, buffalo wings, and the sort -- but after an eight-hour shift standing behind a counter and slinging cocktails to parched salsa dancers, an order of overcooked steak tips tasted like just the closest thing to heaven.

After one particularly busy night, I accidentally spilled my margarita into my steak tips. I don’t remember what I was thinking -- perhaps I was just way too hungry to pick up takeout on the way home -- but I ate them anyway. What I do remember was that they tasted better than they did when they'd come out of the kitchen. (The soaked fries, not so much.)

Continue reading "Tequila (Recipe: tequila-lime flank steak, grilled cherry tomato salsa, and a classic margarita)" »

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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