TRUE CONFESSION: I like Velveeta. Really, I do; I've been eating it since I was a little girl, straight from the box. Velveeta is a cheese food product invented to be a more nutritious, longer-lasting alternative to real cheese, by reincorporating the whey that's usually removed in the cheese-making process. In Texas, folks traditionally combine Velveeta and Ro*Tel to make "queso", a spicy, gooey cheese dip for chips or vegetables. It's a tradition here in The Perfect Pantry to have a bit of fun with food at the end of the year (marshmallow fluff, anyone?), so why not invite some friends for a queso party?
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Are your guests still sleeping? Do you have friends coming for brunch today? Is your menu all set for New Year's morning? In the time it takes to pull ingredients off the pantry shelf, and peel and chop one single apple (or pear, if that's what you have on hand), you can make this quick and easy coffee cake. All it takes is a bowl or two, a whisk, a few things from the pantry, one piece of fruit, and less than ten minutes of work. Plan-ahead types can bake ahead and freeze this cake, right in its pan.
Continue reading "Recipe for easy cinnamon-apple coffee cake with streusel topping" »
A few years ago, my friend Pauline introduced me to the International House of Rhode Island, a cultural crossroads for visitors from all around the world. In addition to short-term housing and language classes, several times a month International House hosts themed dinners and potlucks, where visitors and volunteers share the foods of their homeland. Louise, a long-time volunteer, often brings these Armenian red lentils with bulgur, a nutritious vegan side or main dish, served with a salad. Louise's recipe is a pantry lover's dream: every ingredient, except the parsley on top, comes right from the cupboard.
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One undefinable thing to know about dried mushrooms:
I have a big old mason jar where for many years I've stored dried mushrooms. The last time we visited the south of France, too long ago, I purchased two large bags of dried cepes from a mushroom farmer at a small weekly market near the village where my sister-in-law lives. When I got home, I put those mushrooms in the jar, and used them sparingly, because they were a precious souvenir of our travels and also because they were so potent that only small amounts were needed to impart rich flavor. The mushrooms lasted for years, and to this day, every time I open the jar, though the mushrooms are long gone, the aroma of deep woods remains. Damp earth, fresh grass, deep shade: all of those smells stayed in the jar. I can't really define what the woods smell like, just that it's the aroma of dried mushrooms.
Continue reading "Dried mushrooms (Recipe: mushroom Stroganoff soup, improved)" »