[Even old dogs can learn new tricks, and I've learned to love sweet potato latkes, even though I never ate them when I was growing up. If your family is open-minded, too, please enjoy this recipe (originally shared in 2007) from the archives.] For the most part, I don't believe in "one size fits all," because I am a size and shape that one size never seems to fit. And while in my pantry I have half a dozen types of flour -- surprising, given that I'm a notorious bake-o-phobe -- the one I reach for more often than not is "one size fits all," also known as all-purpose flour. All-purpose flour is a blend of hard (high-protein) and soft (higher carbohydrate, lower protein) wheats,... Read more →


[First published in December 2009, this is our family's go-to latke recipe. Even though we associate latkes with Chanukah, they're a crowd pleaser at any time of year. Make small ones for your Sunday football parties, or large ones for a vegetarian dinner main dish. Kids love latkes smothered with sour cream or apple sauce. Please enjoy this post adapted from the archives.] Rudolf Diesel had a dream. When the German inventor and Utopian idealist demonstrated his new engine at the 1900 Paris World Exposition, it ran not on petroleum, but on peanut oil. In the perfect world, Diesel believed, renewable biofuels like peanut oil could power farm machinery and automobiles. In our imperfect world, my car still drinks gasoline, but peanut oil powers my... Read more →


[You can never have too many cookie recipes on hand at this time of year, and I've collected some of my all-time favorites. Please enjoy this post from the archives.] 'Tis the season to make merry, and to make cookies. And to swap cookies, and decorate cookies, and pack cookies in tins and send them to friends and family far away. For me, there are only two types of holiday cookies: ones with chocolate, and ones without. Of the hundreds and hundreds of cookie recipes I've seen on food blogs, here are 40 of my favorites. Cookies with chocolate Chocolate spice cookies, from The Perfect Pantry (pictured above) Chocolate ice cream cookies, from The Perfect Pantry Oreo white chocolate pudding peppermint cookies, from Two Peas... Read more →


There are buckwheat noodles, and there are buckwheat noodles, and if you follow a gluten-free diet, you know what I mean. Some brands contain wheat flour as well as buckwheat; some contain yam or sweet potato; several brands are 100 percent buckwheat. I think they all taste so similar that, unless you have celiac disease, you can cook with them interchangeably. Read the labels when you shop at Asian markets; by law, ingredients must be listed in English on packaged foods sold in the United States. Soba noodles make a perfect backdrop for sauces with citrus, and here it's lime that provides the tart balance to the earthy buckwheat. My friend Sarah gave me a gorgeous yellow cucumber, as well as mint from her community... Read more →


For someone who suffers from appetizer anxiety like I do, these little bacon, lettuce and tomato skewers couldn't be easier. The only cooking is the bacon, and you actually have to undercook it to be able to thread it onto the skewers. And, who doesn't love a good BLT? I love to serve these little bites with wasabi mayonnaise, which really packs a punch, and adheres somewhat to the spirit of a traditional BLT sandwich. You can mix up any dipping sauce you like, with mayonnaise as the base. Instead of wasabi, try adding Sriracha sauce, or some of the adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers. Don't want spicy? How about stirring some basil pesto into your mayo, or garlicky Green Goddess salad... Read more →


Some people create beautiful appetizers -- elegant, interesting, the memorable appetizers, perfectly arranged on a perfect platter, that take you by the hand and lead you into the meal. Not me. I have perpetual appetizer anxiety. I want to zoom right past them, to soup or an entreé. Sometimes, however, a host must serve apps. Thank goodness for mini phyllo shells. They are the little black dress of appetizers. Any filling you can imagine looks better in a one-bite cup of phyllo dough. They come in packages of 15, ready to eat as is, or to bake for a few minutes. I've filled them with sweet fillings, and savory ones. Easy, easy, easy. These no-bake pesto cheese bites are savory, and the filling takes about... Read more →


One of my all-time favorite Chinese restaurant take-out recipes, shrimp lo mein finally gets the photo update it deserves. I first shared this recipe in 2008, in an ingredient post about oyster sauce, and I updated the post in 2010 with photos that made this dish look anything but appetizing. I hope these new photos will give you an idea of how much you'll love these salty, slurpy noodles, and how easy it is to make great lo mein at home. The basic sauce, what I call the Cantonese 3-2-1 Trinity, relies on staples from the pantry: three parts reduced-sodium soy sauce, two parts oyster sauce (also called oyster-flavor sauce), and one part sesame oil. You can use this mixture to season all types of... Read more →