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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)" »

June 9, 2009

Frozen fruit (Recipe: pink yink ink drink) {vegetarian}

A week of ingredients featured in kid-friendly recipes from the Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook by Georgeanne Brennan. Welcome to Dr. Seuss Week, Day Two.

Pink yink ink drink (a.k.a. frozen fruit smoothie)!

In our neck of the woods, berry season lasts for six or eight weeks a year.

Even if you don't have your own strawberry fields or raspberry brambles, you know when it's berry time, because PYO (pick your own) or U-Pik signs appear on electrical poles all over town.

For the other forty-four weeks of the year, our best option is frozen fruit.

I'd never choose frozen fruit over in-season ripe fresh fruit, but individually quick frozen (IQF) fruits, prepared commercially or in your own kitchen, frozen at the peak of ripeness, retain almost all of their nutrient value. IQF fruit is 100% natural, with no added sugar or preservatives. It's trimmed and washed, and economical to use. Take what you need, and leave the rest in the freezer.

Continue reading "Frozen fruit (Recipe: pink yink ink drink) {vegetarian}" »

May 17, 2009

Coffee (Recipe: how to brew the perfect cup of coffee)


Guest post and photos by Sarah in Boston

Like every dad, mine gave his opinion freely, but there were some things he considered life skills. He couldn't understand how you would ever be able to get through life without them.

These included: how to drive a car while shifting between gears so you could glide through curves and down hills instead of using the brake; staying at a consistent speed on the highway to conserve gas (in the days before cruise control); parallel parking in three turns of the wheel. 

He also felt very strongly about his coffee. This wasn't about buying expensive coffee or the perfect coffee pots -- just the basics on how to brew a strong cup of coffee. And whether you planned to use the brewed coffee in a recipe or drink it straight, the method was still the same.

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December 30, 2008

Marshmallow Fluff (Recipe: Rhode Island hot chocolate, with faux fluff)


Despite having close to 250 items in The Perfect Pantry, I can think of dozens of ingredients that might be in your pantry but are not in mine.

Almond extract. Anchovies. Bacon. Wild rice. Fennel pollen. Marshmallow Fluff®.

I know... you think Fluff is not an ingredient. But here in New England, it is.

Without Fluff, there would be no Fluffernutters or Whoopie Pies, two of our regional claims to fame.

Continue reading "Marshmallow Fluff (Recipe: Rhode Island hot chocolate, with faux fluff)" »

December 18, 2008

Fresca (Recipes: Fresca cake, salad, and a cocktail)


When we were in college, my best friend Joyce and I went on a Fresca®-and-tuna-sandwich diet.

Two weeks later, we'd each lost a couple of pounds and gained a life-long addiction to the grapefruit-flavored sugar-free soda.

Last week, in a post about food gifts for food lovers, I wrote that Fresca did not meet the test for a pantry item, though I drink it every day and always have copious amounts in my refrigerator, because it's not used as an ingredient in creating other dishes.

I was wrong.

Continue reading "Fresca (Recipes: Fresca cake, salad, and a cocktail)" »

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  • 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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