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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 24, 2014

Salad Nicoise-style, with tuna, green beans, olives and potatoes {gluten-free}

Salad with lots of Nicoise ingredients: beans, olives, potatoes.

Before seeing Julia Child make it on an episode of The French Chef, way back when, I'd never heard of salade Nicoise. Julia dressed each element of the classic composed salad individually, arranged everything artfully on a platter, and presented it (to her television audience) with great fanfare. I took a few shortcuts in preparing my version, which was precipitated by the gift of some beautiful crispy green beans from my friend Donna's garden. I had fingerling potatoes left from another recipe, plus local tomatoes and some pitted kalamata olives. A hard-boiled farm egg with a golden yolk. Baby cucumbers, almost seedless. A red bell pepper. I added a small piece of roasted tuna (vegetarians can substitute chickpeas), and used my favorite balsamic vinaigrette dressing to pull together the melange of cooked and raw components. Not 100 percent authentic, but very good indeed. The recipe multiplies easily, to serve a crowd, and you can make all of the pieces ahead of time for last-minute assembly. Bon appétit!

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August 17, 2014

Seafood stew with tomatoes, peppers, fennel and leeks {gluten-free}

Seafood stew, packed with mussels, clams, scallops and fish.

My friend Beverly, a lifelong Rhode Islander, moved to Denver a couple of weeks ago, leaving behind The Ocean State and its glorious and abundant seafood. For our last dinner on my back porch, I made this seafood stew, filled with all of the good things that come from our coastal waters. The key to the stew is the light broth, which will happily accept almost any type of shellfish or non-oily fish. Best of all, you can make the broth ahead of time, and refrigerate or freeze it. Then, head to the fish market, pick up a selection of seafood, and finish the stew with just a few minutes of cooking. (Remember to ask your fishmonger for some clam "liquor", which most markets will have on hand. The taste is much cleaner than bottled clam juice.) To make the full recipe, the large quantity of seafood will be expensive, so this is a great party or special occasion dish. However, you can freeze the broth in small batches, then make just enough for weeknight dinner with any little bits of fish or shellfish. Serve this dish to people you love, especially if they're moving inland.

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July 30, 2014

White beans with shrimp, basil, and slow-roasted tomatoes {gluten-free}

White beans, shrimp, basil, garlicky roasted tomatoes: comfort food! #glutenfree

A well-stocked pantry + an herb garden + zero motivation to leave the house on a hot and sticky day = this magical bowl of garlicky white beans with shrimp and basil. Every couple of weeks, I cook a large batch of beans in my pressure cooker, so I've always got some on hand (you can use canned beans for this recipe, too). There's shrimp in the freezer, basil in the garden, and slow-roasted tomatoes packed in baggies, ready to go. (Watch me make slow-roasted tomatoes in my new e-book, 25 Tomatoes.) The magic comes from a little pinch of red pepper flakes that kicks up the flavor, without adding a lot of heat. This comfort food recipe is going into permanent rotation in my kitchen, for quick and easy worknight dinners. It's amazing what you can create with an almost-perfect pantry.

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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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