When readers of my old soup blog asked me for bouktouf, I winced just a little bit. The recipe for this Algerian vegan soup calls for two bunches of cilantro, and I am one of those people to whom cilantro tastes like soap. It turns out that the bright orange color isn't the only surprising thing about this soup; the addition of a large amount of lemon juice tames the flavor of the cilantro, in a good way, and gives the soup a lovely freshness. Here's the original recipe from The Soup Peddler's Slow & Difficult Soups, word for word (because nobody could improve on it). I halved the recipe and ended up with five cups of soup, which I cooked in a Dutch oven.... Read more →


Generally, I think of myself as a person who has not led a fear-based life. And yet, I spent decades living in fear of pressure cookers (once you see green beans plastered to the kitchen ceiling, you cannot unsee them). So I owe this risotto to my friend Kalyn, who nudged me back into pressure cooking, which turned risotto from nearly an hour of stirring (and upper arm exhaustion) to a quick six minutes at high pressure in my fail-safe electric pressure cooker, making this spinach and kale risotto officially fast food. Sun-dried tomatoes bring a little sweetness to balance the bitter greens, creating a risotto that's both easy and healthy. If you have your own slow-roasted tomatoes in the freezer, use those instead, and... Read more →


On the days when I'm really in the mood to cook, I love to put some meals "in the bank" -- in other words, into the freezer, for the days when I'm really not in the mood to cook. These chicken enchilada roll-ups start with one of those "in the bank" dishes, quick and easy black beans and rice, and end as an all-in-one meal you can defrost, zap in the microwave, and serve any day of the week with just a few minutes of work. At this busy time of year, it's great to have a few easy meals on hand at the end of a long day of shopping, wrapping, cookie baking or tree trimming. If you've spent a lot of time sitting... Read more →


After ten years of soup recipes here on The Perfect Pantry, do you still need proof that combining any fresh ingredient -- fruit, vegetables, sausage or leftover turkey -- with a well-stocked pantry will produce a very fine soup? You can do it, and do it without a recipe; the secret is to be fearless and plunge right in. That's the way this sausage and black bean soup started out, but it ended up being so good that I'm glad I took notes as I was making it, so you can replicate it in your own kitchen. The soup began with the gift from my cousin of a couple of packages of Al Fresco Chipotle Chicken Chorizo Sausage with mango and adobo that were languishing... Read more →


Many years ago, my husband Ted and I joined his sister and her friends for a Thanksgiving meal at a lakeside cottage in the Ontario (Canada) countryside. It was a bit of a potluck, and because we were from out of town, we were assigned celery and carrot sticks as our contribution. At first, I thought it wasn't much to ask of us, but when we arrived, we found that our little plate of celery sticks was the only green thing on the table. All brown --turkey, gravy, potatoes and more potatoes -- and orange (carrots and sweet potatoes), and a small bowl of red cranberry sauce. All the colors of the Fall foliage, replicated on the table top. There wasn't a salad or a... Read more →


You never know who's coming to Thanksgiving dinner, and what food allergies or aversions they might bring along. Vegans, gluten-free, dairy-free -- I've hosted them all, and often at the same meal. The holiday table can be a minefield for the cook! It's great to have a few please-all side dishes on the menu. This cabbage with warm dressing takes minutes to prepare (the cabbage can be shredded ahead of time), and it's free of gluten, dairy, meat, nuts -- free of everything except flavor. Cabbage is undervalued on the holiday table; it's economical, easy to prepare, and adapts well to sweet or savory seasonings. (I just used some cole slaw mix in a Chinese stir-fry last night.) This simple side dish can be prepped... Read more →


Have I told you about my love affair with my electric pressure cooker? I never thought I'd say this, but I can't imagine life without pressure cooking some of my own homemade pantry ingredients: beans, lots of beans, and chicken broth. I make other things, like risotto, soups, and roasts, too. I adapted the recipe for these Pima "baked" beans from a small booklet of Southwest Indian recipes. (The Pima people currently live primarily on two reservations in south and central Arizona.) It almost looked like a traditional New England baked bean recipe, except that it called for corn syrup. Usually I don't keep corn syrup in the house, but I had a bottle left over from Ted's gummy-bear making episode with our grandson a... Read more →