May 10, 2011

Recipe for pan seared salmon with tomato-caper relish {gluten-free}


When guests come for dinner, I go out of my way to accommodate their likes and dislikes. Sometimes menu planning that takes into account who doesn't like what can be a challenge, especially when I'm trying out new recipes to share with you on The Perfect Pantry. The fresh topping on this salmon dish could be called "Bob's Nightmare Relish"; it includes fresh tomatoes, olives, and capers, all of which are on my friend Bob's cross-the-street-to-avoid list. Fortunately, they're on my love-'em-lots list, and in combination they brighten up even the most simply prepared fish, chicken or vegetables. I used canned black olives, because they're mild and because I always have them in my pantry; if you prefer Kalamata olives, be sure to rinse them to remove excess brine. Fresh tomatoes are a must.

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February 27, 2011

Jalapeño nectarine salsa fresca recipe {vegan, gluten-free}

Jalapeno nectarine salsa fresca

Have you seen Ingredient, a cooking magazine for children ages 6-12 (and their adult sous chefs)? My husband Ted and I sent a gift subscription to our nine-year-old granddaughter Sabina, and we ordered a subscription for ourselves, too, so we can cook together even though we don't live nearby. In the January issue, we learned a lot about jalapeño peppers: how they got their name, how hot they are on the Scoville Unit scale, how to temper the heat, and how to make a simple fruit salsa. Our granddaughter, an adventurous (and vegetarian) eater, loves salsa; she'll probably enjoy hers with tortilla chips, but we're having ours with grilled chicken. Fruit salsas are delicious with fish or shellfish, beef or quesadillas, and the bright tang of lime and cilantro will bring the taste of summer into your kitchen, even when you're grilling outdoors in your mittens.

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January 9, 2011

Recipe for bacon jam and cheese panini

Bacon jam panini: completely indulgent!

In a million years, I never thought I'd write (or even think) these words: I love bacon jam. (Generations of my family are wringing their hands. I can't see them, but I know.) I don't eat a lot of bacon, I don't like fruit jams or jellies, and I don't have a sweet tooth, but bacon jam tastes more like chutney, a bit of sweet and a bit of salty, and makes a perfect pairing with cheese. The panini put me in mind of the ploughman's lunch served in every pub in Britain: cheese, chutney, crusty bread, and sometimes a sausage. I used small ciabatta rolls for instant portion control, because believe me, you can get carried away with this combination of jam and cheese, but any crusty bread will do.

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September 12, 2010

Mayonnaise (Recipe: bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich with turkey and chipotle mayo)


One fun fact about mayonnaise:

Technically, it's a stable emulsion, a mixture of two things that don't really want to mix at all -- oil and acid (lemon juice or vinegar) -- with something to keep them together, or emulsify them, once they meet (the lecithin contained in egg yolks). Commercially produced mayonnaise labeled as real must use only egg as the emulsifier, and by law must contain at least 65 percent oil. The salad dressing I like so much has no egg to keep the oil and acid together, but I still love it. Sometimes, though, only the real thing will do, so I always have it in my refrigerator.

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September 7, 2010

White vinegar (Recipe: peach salsa)

Peach salsa

A fun thing to know about white vinegar:

If you believe Mary Poppins (and who doesn't?), a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, but did you know that a spoonful of white vinegar helps meringues go up? It also helps set the color of vegetables when you're boiling or blanching; helps add moisture to chocolate cakes; helps keep frosting white and shiny; helps keep eggs from cracking as they're boiling; and helps perk up wilted vegetables (soak them in cold water with a teaspoon of white vinegar).

So, take your medicine if you must, but keep white vinegar (which isn't really white; it's clear) in your pantry for everything else.

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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.

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