February 8, 2015

Brussels sprouts, bacon and greens salad with roasted shrimp {gluten-free}

Brussels sprouts, bacon and greens, topped with roasted shrimp (optional), make a fabulous main course salad. #glutenfree

As it turns out, downsizing the pantry, in preparation for our move from the log house to a small apartment in the city, hasn't been the nightmare I'd feared. Instead, I've been discovering hidden treasures in the deep recesses of the shelves, and letting those ingredients inspire new and interesting combinations. Three boxes of powdered buttermilk packets -- enough to make 12 quarts (!) of buttermilk -- revealed themselves last week, and immediately I thought of using some in a salad dressing. The remaining ingredients in this Brussels sprouts, bacon and greens salad came from the pantry, the fridge (bacon and yogurt), and the freezer (shrimp). Lately we've been into raw Brussels sprouts, something I hadn't tried until just a few months ago, and those form the base for this all-seasons salad. In summer, toss in a ripe tomato, or omit the protein altogether and add some nuts or chickpeas for a vegetarian main dish.

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January 14, 2015

Pan-seared tuna burger with Sriracha mayonnaise

Spicy Sriracha sauce kicks up this pan-seared tuna burger.

Photography not being my strong suit, the only way I can convince you that these tuna burgers are lick-the-plate good is to confess that two of us ate enough for four, and probably would have kept going if I'd made a larger batch. Everything except the fresh tuna comes right from the pantry, making these burgers quick and easy for weeknight dinners or weekend lunch. For sliders, divide the tuna mixture into eight patties insead of four. If you're like me and get mad cravings for Sriracha, you'll love the spicy sauce slathered on top of each burger. Although you can cook these on a grill or panini press, a stovetop frying pan works best, because fish burgers are a bit delicate and like to be settled on a flat surface. When you're in the mood for a burger but want something lighter and healthier than beef, this recipe will surely satisfy.

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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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  • 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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