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October 1, 2014

Pear and pluot chutney with raisins and ginger {vegan, gluten-free}

Turkey and cheese roll-ups with pear and pluot chutney.

In my house, Thanksgiving comes twice a year: once in mid-October, when we celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving with my husband Ted's family, and again in November, when the Americans take their turn. It wouldn't be Canadian Thanksgiving without my sister-in-law's decorated baked potato turkeys, maple-leaf printed napkins, little paper Canadian flags on toothpicks scattered here and there, and moose-shaped cookies. We do love our traditions. Every year, I cook turkey and mashed potatoes and apple pie, and from the harvest from our pear trees, I make mildly-peppery tart chutney to serve alongside the more traditional cranberry sauce. A few weeks ago, I found some wonderful pluots at the market and thought they'd make a sweet counterpart to the pears. A pluot is a cross between a plum and an apricot; sometimes they're sold as plumcots. If you can't find them at your market, substitute ripe plums in this recipe. Chutney, an Indian condiment often served with curries, likes to "bloom" for a few weeks in the refrigerator in order to reach its peak flavor. Make it now, and it will be perfect for whichever Thanksgiving you celebrate. (In the photo above, I've slathered it on a turkey and provolone roll-up.)

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September 24, 2014

Roasted beet risotto with goat cheese and beet greens, pressure cooker or stovetop {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Roasted beet risotto with goat cheese and beet greens. #vegetarian #glutenfree

In high school chemistry class, my lab partner, Bill, did all of the experiments, and I handled the write-ups. This division of labor served us well, as it had the previous year in biology lab, except that I had the hardest time describing the colors of whatever concoction was reacting in the test tube. Orangish-yellow? Reddish-purple? Bill and I struggled over what to name our colors. (Obviously, neither of us grew up to work for Benjamin Moore paints or J. Crew, where we could have gotten a whole lot more creative with color names.) I don't know how to describe the color of this roasted beet risotto, either. Red? Pink? Salmon? Reddish-pinkish-salmon? It's gorgeous, I'll say that, and the photos really do show its beauty. However, for the taste, which is also glorious and and creamy and a bit sweet from the roasted beets, you'll have to make it yourself. If goat cheese isn't your thing, you can substitute feta, but feta doesn't melt, so your risotto will be more red. Reddish-purple. Oh, you know.

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September 14, 2014

Slow cooker Caribbean pepper pot {gluten-free}

Caribbean pepper pot, filled with chicken, shrimp, squash and kale.

A few weeks ago, I awoke in the middle of the night, craving Caribbean pepper pot. Can you imagine what I was dreaming about? Adventures on the high seas? Salsa dancing on the beach? Bright colored head scarves and flowing tunics? Johnny Depp? I wish I could remember. Not to worry, though: I remembered the important part: spicy stew, filled with the goodness of the islands, and I absolutely had to make it. In my dream there was shrimp and rice and callaloo, a typical dark leafy green grown throughout the Caribbean. It's not impossible to find callaloo at specialty supermarkets, but I swapped kale, which was perfect. Most pepper pot recipes call for fiery hot habañero peppers in terrifying quantities. I substituted several milder jalapeños, and there was still plenty of kick. Please do not omit the pepper. If you don't like spicy food, make another dish. After all, this one is called pepper pot for a reason. I made enough for Ted, Christine, Rebecca, Shweta and Robby, who had his portion for breakfast, and when they polished it off, I regretted I hadn't made more. May the recipe bring you amazing food-filled dreams.

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September 10, 2014

Tex-Mex taco sauce {gluten-free}

Tex-Mex taco sauce fills a tortilla.

When I went off to college and had to cook for myself, I made lots and lots of spaghetti with red sauce. One of the few things I knew how to cook, it would feed a crowd, and leftovers went right into the freezer. Maybe there was something meditative about stirring the sauce pot, or maybe I was avoiding doing my homework, or maybe both. All these (many) years later, I prepare spaghetti sauce basically the same way, and this Tex-Mex taco sauce is a peppy riff on that sauce I used to make in my college dorm. You can spice this up or down, by playing with the canned green chiles and chili pepper proportions, but don't leave out all of the hot pepper ingredients. After all, it wouldn't be Tex-Mex without a little something to make you kick up your heels. Cook the full amount of the recipe, and freeze it in smaller portions for tacos, quesadillas, burritos or Sloppy Joes.

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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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