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April 29, 2015

Slow cooker beef brisket with pomegranate molasses gravy

Slow cooker beef brisket with pomegranate molasses gravy takes just a few minutes to prep. [ThePerfectPantry.com]

Cousin Martin came to visit last week, and I made our grandmother's brisket for him. If you've heard that I never met a brisket recipe I didn't love, you heard right, and while I've made brisket the same way my grandmother did for most of my life, lately I've been branching out, too. I've tried sweet, and spicy, Tex-Mex and BBQ and shredded. A bottle of Lebanese pomegranate molasses in the pantry inspired this latest slow cooker recipe, and when I went looking online, I found several versions to use as a starting point. Pomegranate molasses brings a tangy sweet-sour flavor to the meat, and mint leaves added at the end offer an unexpected -- and delightful -- change from the usual heavier seasonings. I use my new favorite technique of cutting the meat into four pieces and browning all of the edges before slow cooking with the remaining ingredients; this has the added advantage of producing pieces that are just the right length for sandwiches. You can cook the brisket in one whole piece, for a finished dish that's a bit less, well... edgy. Look for pomegranate molasses at Middle Eastern markets, or online.

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April 5, 2015

Oven-baked matzoh brei with caramelized onions {vegetarian}

Oven-baked matzoh brei will turn your breakfast world upside down! [ThePerfectPantry.com]

When I was a little girl, my father taught me to make matzoh brei, a treat we enjoyed only during Passover, and only for breakfast (there were rules, apparently). Matzoh brei (pronounced MAHT ZAH BRY, and spelled many ways) means fried matzoh, and it's an ethereal cross between a frittata and a noodle pudding. Beaten eggs mixed with matzoh, which bears a striking resemblance to cardboard, cooked in butter in a large frying pan, flipped to cook on both sides (a messy and often embarrassing operation), desperately in need of salt: trust me, it might not sound great, but it is the best breakfast ever. And so this recipe, which deviates from my dad's in so many ways, might be viewed as heresy. Instead, I hope you see it as the recipe that will liberate you from attempting the giant pan flip and the messy stove cleanup. Yes, this fried matzoh actually bakes in the oven. And for a twist, I caramelize onions to add to the mix. You can omit the onions and make a straightforward matzoh brei, but my husband Ted went ahead and topped his with maple syrup, and proclaimed the combination of sweet caramelized onions and maple syrup quite delightful. Matzoh is actually available year-round in the ethnic foods aisle at the grocery store. I predict you'll be making oven-baked matzoh brei more than just one week a year.

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December 17, 2014

Sweet and sour slow cooker red cabbage with apples and onions {vegan, gluten-free}

Slow cooker red cabbage, just as good on hot dogs as on the holiday table! #vegan #glutenfree #crockpot

Nothing revolutionary here, just a reliably delicious traditional side dish that you can serve hot or cold. In fact, my husband Ted's first reaction after taste testing was, "This would be great on a hot dog!" And so you see it, served at room temperature, piled on an organic beef hot dog. Ted was absolutely right; it's a great pairing. I'd love to see this sweet and sour cabbage on the holiday table, slightly warm and oh-so-holiday-red. The stunning color and tangy flavor, which comes from a mix of vinegars, compliment a range of menus, from Christmas goose to roast chicken to fish tacos. The recipe calls for pomegranate vinegar, which I buy at Trader Joe's (or online); if you can't find this, substitute a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar plus a teaspoon of red wine vinegar, or swap in pomegranate juice. Top a rice bowl with red cabbage and some chunks of cheese, for a quick vegetarian lunch. With five minutes of prep, you can set cabbage in the slow cooker to do its thing all day, while you are at work or running errands. Make it a few days ahead, and let it get happy in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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January 21, 2014

Recipe for sweet and sour beef cabbage soup

Sweet and sour beef cabbage soup (The Perfect Pantry).

After a day cooking stuffed cabbage rolls, I had everything left over: cooked rice, tomato juice, mirepoix vegetables (carrots, onions and celery), and some ground beef. Immediately I reached for the soup pot and began tossing in the odds and ends. With a tweak in proportions, and the addition of lemon and brown sugar, the stuffed cabbage ingredients rematerialized as a hearty sweet and sour beef cabbage soup. My husband Ted instantly proclaimed it "Blogworthy!", which is how we categorize recipes good enough to share with you. This is a forgiving soup; if you don't have tomato juice, use beef broth. If you're out of green cabbage, try red, or Savoy, or bok choy. Swap in ground turkey or chicken for the beef, or chop up some leftover rotisserie chicken. Add barley instead of rice. The soup freezes well, which makes it perfect for Soup Swap.

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January 19, 2014

Recipe for Polish stuffed cabbage rolls (golabki)

Polish stuffed cabbage rolls (make ahead and freeze), from The Perfect Pantry.

Being of Polish heritage, I have golabki in my soul. Pronounced gaw-WUMP-key, the name means little pigeons, though what that has to do with stuffed cabbage is a mystery to me, especially since the cabbage rolls are so substantial they'd sooner sink than fly. I'm trying to eat more cooked cabbage dishes this year, because cabbage is full of the fiber that helps lower cholesterol and has other health benefits. Stuffed cabbage rolls -- filled with meat (beef or turkey) and rice (or barley) -- are a healthy main dish to make ahead and freeze. You can tweak the filling with herbs and spices, and change up the braising liquid; I like to use V-8 juice, which adds a bit of extra zing to the sauce.

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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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