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June 8, 2010

Puff pastry (Recipe: turkey and cheese in puff pastry)

Turkey and cheese in puff pastry

Rachael Ray often says, "Take a little help from the grocery store," and while I'm not saying that every meal should be made in less than thirty minutes, I agree with her on this one thing.

The grocery store is your friend.

When I moved to a small town in Rhode Island, from the not-so-small town of Boston, I discovered that grocery stores have come a long way. Our local market (the independent that's trying to hold its own against the large chains) stocks more variety in every aisle, more ingredients we used to consider exotic or simply hard-to-find, and lately, an upgraded produce department. 

And -- hallelujah -- a healthy supply of frozen puff pastry.

I've made puff pastry from scratch, and proved to myself that it's not hard to do, but it's easier to buy it and keep a few boxes in the freezer. If anyone asks, you don't need to tell that you took a bit of help from the grocery store.

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June 6, 2010

Frozen fruit (Recipe: raspberry, lime and mint smoothie)

Raspberry smoothie recipe

I live in a fruit-challenged part of the country.

Don't get me wrong. We have fruit, just not the fruit I crave.

Ten miles up the road, in the area known as Apple Valley, you can find apples, of course, and also pears, blackberries and raspberries. Closer to my house, just a mile up the road, is Cherry Valley, but I don't know anyone who grows cherries there.

The fruit I love most -- grapes, plums, middle-of-winter casaba melons -- comes from valleys much farther away, so in order to get fresh fruit year-round, I keep flash-frozen fruit in my pantry.

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June 1, 2010

Ground turkey (Recipe: Greek turkey burgers with yogurt and feta sauce)

Turkey burger, souvlaki style. 

Why does a whole chicken taste better than a whole turkey, but ground turkey tastes better than ground chicken?

I don't have the answer, but I always have ground turkey in my freezer.

In the small market in my town, I can choose from several types of ground turkey, with varying amounts of breast and thigh meat, and varying amounts of fat. I like 93% fat free, but I can buy it as lean as 99% fat free. The less fat, the less flavor, so a little bit of fat is a good thing.

Ground turkey substitutes for ground pork in everything I cook, especially Chinese stir-fry dishes and wonton filling, and Tex-Mex specialties like enchiladas and tacos. 

And though I've tried to substitute ground chicken for ground turkey, it never tastes the same to me.

How about you? Chicken, turkey, or both?

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May 13, 2010

Discos (Recipe: cheese and red pepper empanaditas)

Cheese empanaditas

Before my husband Ted discovered discos in a market in our Boston neighborhood, the closest I ever got to a disco was forty feet -- the distance between our rear window and the window of the house across the back alley where an ABBA fan blasted "Dancing Queen" on his CD player every morning.

These discos are much more my type.

Discos are sheets of dough, rolled into perfect five-inch circles. They come in two different colors (one colored by annatto to a lovely orange). They dress up any type of filling.

They're easy to use, and easy to find in the freezer aisle of the grocery store or your local Latino market.

And no singing or dancing required.

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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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