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February 27, 2014

Recipe for Mediterranean beef brisket (pressure cooker, slow cooker or stovetop)

Mediterranean beef brisket, made fast (in the pressure cooker) or slow.

When I was a little girl, I witnessed a pressure cooker explosion in my grandmother's kitchen. I can't remember exactly what it was that ended up on her ceiling, but the impression that experience left on me remains, to this day, one of my kitchen nightmares. In a million years, I never expected to be in close promixity to a pressure cooker again, yet thanks to my friend Kalyn, I not only own an electric pressure cooker, but I'm kind of falling in love with it. The first time I pulled the machine out of the box, I made a batch of black beans, without presoaking, in less than an hour. They were perfect, and my kitchen did not blow up. As I learn more about this machine and how to make it work for me, I'm trying a few more recipes. Some have worked, and some have not, but one I really love (and made several times to get the timing right) is this beef brisket with Provencal-style seasoning. Cook it fast, in the pressure cooker, or cook it slow. Like all brisket, it's better on the second day. Now, tell me: do you use a pressure cooker?

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February 25, 2014

Recipe for roasted chickpea salad with creamy tahini dressing {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Roasted chickpea salad (deconstructed hummus!), from The Perfect Pantry

HERE'S THE THING: I love hummus -- the creamy, garlicky, nutty Middle Eastern spread made with chickpeas and tahini -- but I don't really love chickpeas. It's got to be a texture issue because, well... I love hummus. So, a couple of weeks ago I had the idea to take hummus apart and put it back together, to see if I could combine all of the flavors I love in a dish that would help me love chickpeas, and what I created was this simple salad. Roasting the chickpeas gave them just enough crunch to change the texture but not the flavor, and all the remaining components of hummus went into the dressing. I added some crisp chopped iceberg lettuce, which seemed perfect. You could keep going and pile on more fixings like olives, tomatoes and cucumber, to make a main course salad.

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February 23, 2014

Recipe for breakfast casserole with kale, bacon, mushrooms and onions {gluten-free}

Breakfast casserole with kale, bacon, mushrooms and onions #gluten-free (The Perfect Pantry).

Almost every morning, I bake, scramble, fry or flip eggs for breakfast. So, when I also remember to mix in some antioxidant-rich dark leafy greens like kale or spinach, I want to pat myself on the back. How virtuous! How clever! How easy, with a bag of washed greens stashed in the crisper drawer. It takes only a couple of minutes more to prep an egg casserole and pop it into the oven than it takes to poach or fry a couple of eggs, and the casserole will feed a crowd, or provide a week's worth of breakfasts (or lunches, or light suppers). I can't explain how a little bit of bacon, usually so salty, makes this egg and cheese casserole so sweet, except that it draws sweetness out of the slightly bitter kale. If bacon isn't your thing, or for a similar vegetarian option, try a kale, mushroom and caramelized onion breakfast casserole instead.

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February 16, 2014

Recipe for Costa Rican gallo pinto (black beans and rice) {vegan, gluten-free}

Gallo pinto (Costa Rican black beans and rice), with scrambled eggs for breakfast.

On every vacation my husband Ted and I have ever taken, one element of the local cuisine defined the entire trip. In Malaysia, I greeted every morning with mee goreng (fried noodles) for breakfast, in restaurants or from street carts; in Brazil, pao de queijo, cheese balls made of manioc, appeared everywhere with breakfast or afternoon coffee. Recently, on vacation in Costa Rica, gallo pinto was the constant. Throughout the country, there are beans (red or black), and there is rice (always white). And then there is gallo pinto, black beans and rice combined with some of the bean cooking water, garlic and bell peppers. You'll never see it with red bell peppers, but I like the color; green peppers are the norm. Cook the rice and beans separately, ahead of time (even a few days ahead), and reserve some of the bean cooking water in a small jar in the refrigerator. Then, toss the dish together in minutes, just before you're ready to serve. It's common to eat gallo pinto for breakfast, with eggs and plantains, or later in the day, with grilled fish or chicken.

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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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