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October 5, 2014

North African harissa turkey and butternut squash stew {gluten-free}

Turkey and squash stew spiced with North African harissa hot pepper paste. #glutenfree

When we first moved into the log house fifteen years ago, we installed radiant heat under the kitchen floor. A small probe sticks out the side of the house, and when the temperature outdoors goes below 50°F, the probe triggers the thermostat and kicks on the gentle heat in the kitchen. At about that same time of year, when it's cooler outside, my cooking heats up, too. There's no shortage of hot chiles, hot pepper sauce, and hot ground peppers in my pantry from cultures around the world. One of my favorites, harissa -- a smoky, fiery, little-goes-a-long-way red pepper paste from North Africa -- adds the zing to the mild turkey and butternut squash in this dish. I use my favorite rice cooker to cook brown rice, which makes an ideal base for the stew; start the rice an hour before you're ready to make the rest of the recipe, or make it ahead of time and reheat before serving.

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September 28, 2014

Slow cooker Korean-style chicken

Slow cooker Korean-style chicken. #crockpot

Ever since Ken, a long-time reader of The Perfect Pantry, sent me a pile of Hawaiian cookbooks a couple of months ago, I've been having a wonderful time reading recipes and learning more about the island's multicultural cuisine. The book I reach for most often, Hurry Up and Wait: Hawaii's Favorite Recipes for the Pressure Cooker and the Slow Cooker, has yellow stickies on dozens of pages. When the oven is occupied with roasting and baking, both the slow cooker and the pressure cooker get pressed into service in my kitchen. I used my pressure cooker to make Hawaiian sweet potato salad, and the slow cooker to cook a batch of this chicken. If you like Korean barbecue, you'll love this dish, which mimics the spicy-salty barbecue flavor. I always have chicken breasts in the freezer, so I use those instead of thighs. The chicken is delicious hot, as the star of a rice bowl, but I think it's even better cold, sliced and served with crunchy munchy vegetables like crisp celery sticks, bell pepper strips, green beans or snap peas -- and that makes it perfect for take-to-work lunch.

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September 14, 2014

Slow cooker Caribbean pepper pot {gluten-free}

Caribbean pepper pot, filled with chicken, shrimp, squash and kale.

A few weeks ago, I awoke in the middle of the night, craving Caribbean pepper pot. Can you imagine what I was dreaming about? Adventures on the high seas? Salsa dancing on the beach? Bright colored head scarves and flowing tunics? Johnny Depp? I wish I could remember. Not to worry, though: I remembered the important part: spicy stew, filled with the goodness of the islands, and I absolutely had to make it. In my dream there was shrimp and rice and callaloo, a typical dark leafy green grown throughout the Caribbean. It's not impossible to find callaloo at specialty supermarkets, but I swapped kale, which was perfect. Most pepper pot recipes call for fiery hot habañero peppers in terrifying quantities. I substituted several milder jalapeños, and there was still plenty of kick. Please do not omit the pepper. If you don't like spicy food, make another dish. After all, this one is called pepper pot for a reason. I made enough for Ted, Christine, Rebecca, Shweta and Robby, who had his portion for breakfast, and when they polished it off, I regretted I hadn't made more. May the recipe bring you amazing food-filled dreams.

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August 3, 2014

Whole wheat pasta turkey salad with vegetables and feta-herb-yogurt dressing

Whole wheat pasta turkey salad, with tangy feta-herb-yogurt dressing.

At this point in my life, I know that I will never be tall, model-thin, or able to balance on high heels. I'll never be a physicist or concert pianist, a race car driver or sky diver. And I will never be vegan. I can give up many things -- butter, chicken, hamburgers -- but do not take my cheese. In this recipe, you can omit the turkey, and of course you can change up the vegetables depending on what you have from the farm stand, but don't leave out the feta cheese. The briny tang of the cheese balances the nutty chewiness of whole wheat pasta, which can be a bit blah without something to perk it up. Fresh herbs are a must, and multi-color vegetables make it fun. This is a great salad to bring to a potluck, because you can make it ahead, and multiply the recipe to serve a crowd. Just don't forget the cheese.

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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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