Do you ever have days when you want to run away from your everyday meals? Days when you don't want oatmeal or eggs or cereal for breakfast, a healthy-but-uninspired salad for lunch, or chicken and vegetables for dinner? Me, too. And on those days, the "run away" days, I head straight for my pantry, where I stash a large variety of Asian noodles for this exact type of culinary emergency. A bowl of ginger-lime tuna with buckwheat noodles pulls me right out of my mealtime rut. It hits all of the taste notes, tangy and slightly salty and umami-rich, without any spicy heat. (You could certainly add a squirt or two of Sriracha sauce. I'll never tell.) Make the dish vegan by substituting chunks of extra-firm tofu for the tuna, and make it easy by starting with pre-cooked and shelled edamame, which you can find in the produce section of many supermarkets. If you don't have soba noodles on hand, use any firm Asian noodles (ramen noodles work well, without the seasoning packet), or spaghetti.
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Last Saturday -- an average day, no special occasion -- I awoke with the urge to make a luxurious breakfast for my husband Ted and me. No explanation of why I felt drawn to cook on a Saturday morning (believe me, this never happens), but I recognized it right away as a splendid idea. My pantry offered the basic components for quiche: pie crust, eggs, cheese. Basil in the garden, and cooked lobster tail and roasted corn in the freezer from a recent Trader Joe's shopping trip, came together in this lobster, corn and basil quiche. Fresh lobster and corn cut off the cob would make it that much better, but it was so good that I want you to make this recipe even if you rely on frozen and pantry ingredients. You can substitute shrimp, langoustines or chunks of salmon for the lobster. Serve this quiche with a green salad and glass of white wine for lunch or supper, or make it for breakfast on an ordinary Saturday morning, and turn the day into a special occasion.
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First published in November 2006, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. I learned the original recipe for this Brazilian fish stew from Botucatu Restaurant in Boston, which closed a couple of years ago.
Another scandalous confession: I always have crushed garlic in a jar in my fridge.
I can hear the screams. "What is she doing with that stuff in her pantry???"
Well, right up front, let me say that garlic in a jar is never ever better than fresh minced garlic. Never. Ever.
So why do I always have a jar on hand?
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When Kathy sent me this recipe, passed along from a friend who got it from an old New England cookbook, she warned me that it was good. Really good. Addictively good. So I wasn't entirely surprised when she and I tested a slightly lightened-up version of the original shrimp appetizer with tarragon, substituting Greek yogurt for half of the butter, and the two of us ate all four portions for lunch. We used shrimp labeled "jumbo", the 16-20 per pound size, so, yes, we each scarfed down eight (okay, ten) shrimp, and mopped up every last drop of sauce with slices of crusty bread. This is the kind of appetizer or light lunch entrée you can serve at a fancy dinner party or for any special occasion. For us, an abundance of French tarragon in the herb garden provided ample reason to celebrate.
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