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January 25, 2011

Recipe for salmon chipotle chowder with orzo and corn

Salmon chipotle chowder

It was a dark and stormy night, and the wind blew, and the swirling snow piled up to a height above my knees. Safe and warm inside the house, I hankered for soup, but not just any soup. A good, thick, New England soup. A chowder. And I had to work with what I found in the pantry. Lucky for me, The Perfect Pantry yielded some treasures, and what began as a soup to fill an immediate need turned into a soup so good I ate it twice in one week. I was delighted to find salmon in the freezer, but it's not integral to the soup; use frozen shrimp, bits of leftover chicken, or omit the protein altogether. Whenever I buy a can of chipotle chiles in adobo, I open it immediately and empty the contents into a container with a tight-fitting lid. I keep that in the refrigerator for months, to perk up everything from mayonnaise to scrambled eggs. It's a key element in the success of this recipe, as is the roux that transforms this soup into a chowder.

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October 26, 2010

Frozen shrimp (Recipe: black bean and shrimp quesadillas)

Black bean and shrimp quesadillas

One handy thing to know about frozen shrimp:

Most of the time, frozen shrimp is more fresh than the shrimp that looks fresh, sitting on ice in a glass case in your local seafood market (gasp). It's true. Nearly all the shrimp we buy (except for those very lucky souls who live in Maine or along the Gulf) is cleaned and frozen on the boats. Fresh shrimp has a very short shelf-life. In the fish market -- again, unless you are very lucky and live in fresh shrimp country -- the "fresh" shrimp is frozen shrimp that has been defrosted. When, exactly, was it defrosted? Today? Yesterday? Think about it; with shrimp in your freezer, you can defrost it minutes before you cook it. No more waterlogged shrimp.

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October 21, 2010

Pearl onions (Recipe: slow cooker beef stew with potatoes, parsnips and rutabaga)

Slow cooker beef stew

One amazing thing to know about frozen pearl onions:

They're already peeled. Really, nothing else matters. No more crying, no more sniffling, no more burning candles or running your hands under cold water or wearing funny goggles, no more swearing you'll never peel a big batch of tiny onions again. I promise. These will change your life. And if they're good enough for a contessa, they're good enough for me.

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August 31, 2010

Homemade chicken stock (Recipe: smashed potato and leek soup with bacon and thyme)

Smashed potato and leek soup

Every week I make homemade chicken stock in my slow cooker, with the carcass of a rotisserie chicken or a chicken I've roasted at home.

It couldn't be easier: toss what's left of the chicken carcass into a four-quart slow cooker; add one onion, cut in half, skin and all; add one stalk of celery, with the leaves, and one carrot, cut in half; add a bay leaf and half a dozen peppercorns, and water. Set the cooker on high for three hours, or on low for six hours. Walk away, read a book, check your email, take a nap.


Strain the stock into a freezer-safe container, and let it cool to room temperature on the counter top. Then, store for up to one week in the refrigerator or six months in the freezer, and make soup to your heart's content.

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August 3, 2010

Rolled oats (Recipe: nectarine and white peach crisp)

Nectarine and white peach crisp

What are rolled oats, anyway?

Why are they rolled?

What's the difference between rolled oats and oatmeal, and steel-cut oats?

Inquiring minds want to know.

And I wanted to know, too, before I added rolled oats to The Perfect Pantry a couple of years ago.

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Welcome to The Perfect Pantry®

  • 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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