November 3, 2011

Recipe for fennel, apple and walnut salad with pomegranate-orange dressing {vegan, gluten-free}

Fennel, apple and walnut salad with pomegranate orange dressing.

If a vegetable can be called schizophrenic, fennel fits the diagnosis. Roasted or baked fennel melts in your mouth; it's sweet, with a mild flavor that hints of celery and dill. Raw fennel, on the other hand, hits your taste buds with the bite of anise (here in Rhode Island, fennel is often sold as anise), which tastes a bit like licorice. Sometimes that can be a bit overwhelming, but thanks to my sister-in-law Jill, I now know the secret to preparing raw fennel. Slice the fennel as thin as possible, on a mandoline if you have one, and "marinate" it in an acid- or mustard-based dressing for 15 minutes or so before serving. The acid will tenderize the fennel and mellow the flavor while still leaving plenty of crunch, and I promise you will fall in love with it even if you've never loved fennel before. Apples and fennel are available in our markets year-round, making this salad a perfect accompaniment for Thanksgiving turkey, or turkey burgers cooked on the grill.

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November 1, 2011

Recipe for apple crisp wontons

Apple-crisp-wontons

Somewhere, in a file of ideas for future cooking classes, I have a list titled 100 things to make with wonton skins. (Wouldn't that be a fun class?) If these apple crisp wontons aren't on the list already, they will be. Wonton wrappers, inexpensive and versatile, can hold sweet or savory fillings; heat them in soup, steam them in a bamboo steamer, bake them, or deep fry them quickly in a hot wok. Kathy and I named these "apple crisp" because the little pillows filled with apple and chopped walnuts, granola and raisins, taste exactly like a New England apple crisp just out of the oven. Eat them while they're still warm.

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October 27, 2011

Recipe for slow cooker baked apples, or chunky applesauce

Slow-cooker-baked-apple

What happens when a good recipe goes kerplooie? You end up with two good recipes. Kathy and I were aiming for these beautiful slow cooker baked apples when, the first time around, we left them in a bit too long. The apples burst in the cooker, and with some gentle encouragement from a wooden spoon, the large remaining chunks became spoon-sized chunks and the whole thing morphed into the most indulgently rich applesauce. I decided to share both recipes with you -- the one we intended to make, which worked perfectly the second time around, and the one we made by accident, so good that we made it again on purpose. If you don't have a 7-quart slow cooker (CrockPot), buy smaller apples that will fit into a 6-quart cooker. Baked apples or applesauce, laced with dried cranberries and crunchy granola and brown sugar -- only one thing could make them better -- a scoop of vanilla ice cream melting slowly on top.

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October 16, 2011

Recipe for slow cooker poached pears in caramel sauce

Slow-cooker-poached-pears-in-caramel-sauce

When my Canadian relatives arrive for American Thanksgiving next month, I want to spend lots of time visiting with them instead of working in the kitchen. My strategy this year involves slow cookers, putting all three of mine (3-, 4- and 7-quart) to work. In the largest cooker, I'll make black bean and sweet potato stew, a colorful vegan main dish. The 3-quart might be perfect for gravy, and the 4-quart for a dessert to serve alongside the got-to-have-it pumpkin pie. Kathy, my cooking assistant, and I are testing several dessert possibilities, and we think these poached pears in caramel sauce are a winner. They're simple and elegant on their own, which is how I like them, but a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on top will melt the heart of even the most die-hard pie fan.

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October 2, 2011

Quick and easy apple or pear tart recipe

Apple-tart

Soon after Ted and I moved to Boston's South End in 1980, we met a woman who lived on Fort Hill, a middle class, not-yet-gentrified enclave of brick row houses in the midst of the low-income, mostly black and Hispanic Roxbury neighborhood. She invited us to dinner, and we had a lovely evening. Then, we called a taxi to pick us up. Our host laughed, and said no cabs would come to her neighborhood at that time of night. She was right, as it turned out, and we waited an uncomfortably long hour-plus until one finally arrived. Fortunately, our awkward exit isn't all I remember about that night; I remember the apple tart she made for dessert. This is it, a bare-bones, apple-lover's, no-gooey-pastry-cream tart best made with crisp apples (and equally delicious made with sweet pears). If you've spent any time here in The Perfect Pantry, you know I don't bake. In fact, I'm a bake-o-phobe. So, when I tell you this pretty tart is super quick and easy, believe me. You can do it.

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  • 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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