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March 28, 2010

Sesame oil (Recipe: salmon and green vegetable soup)

Salmon and green vegetable soup 

Guest post and photos by Kim in Pasadena, California.

I have to give credit to a broken vase.

I know it’s odd, but without that broken vase and the need to replace it, I would not have been in line at the store, new vase in hand. And I would not have met a woman behind me, who introduced herself as Diane and asked what I was going to do with the vase. I told her my story about replacing the vase, and she shared her story about looking for warm weather clothes for a trip to Washington DC.

We traded information, and began speaking by phone and e-mailing often, sometimes about life stuff, but most often about food.

During a routine medical exam and testing, Diane learned that she had breast cancer. After surgery and the dreadful hospital food, Diane asked if I could create a soup that was made with broccoli, spinach, asparagus and ginger –- all ingredients that would help rebuild her body and spirit.

The items didn’t seem to make a defining flavor profile and needed something to give them a unifying theme. One of the things that I do know about ginger is that it plays well with sesame oil. This would give the soup an Asian feel and was just the pantry item that I needed to make this work.

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January 24, 2010

Great Northern beans (Recipe: easy cassoulet)

Please welcome Stephanie as guest blogger on The Perfect Pantry. A Toronto-based writer and author of The 30-Second Commute, she spends much of her time writing about food and restaurants. When she’s not writing, she’s eating, cooking, shopping for intriguing ingredients, giving talks and workshops about food, wine and restaurants, and running food book clubs.

Cassoulet

Guest post and photos by Stephanie, in Toronto

Phil Matthewson is a one-man organic market. Every Saturday (or Sunday, if it’s bad weather or his truck has broken down), he sets up tables outside a little church on a little street just off one of the busiest tourist and trendy shopping areas, the Entertainment District of Queen West in Toronto.

Most people don’t know about him, but there are a bunch of us devotees who show up throughout the day and pick through his fresh produce, fish, dairy, homemade baked goods and preserves, and bins and bins of dried organic beans and grains. What I love is that each week he has different stuff depending upon the season and what he’s made. Buying from Phil is a fun way to compose a meal and his prices, considering everything is organic, are good.

I got two cups of organic dried Great Northern beans from him for $2.00. I also can get them from an organic co-op near my house, though I pay a little more.

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November 15, 2009

How my father learned to cook (Recipe: traditional spaghetti gravy)

Spaghetti gravy

Guest post and photos by Sarah in Boston.

When my mother passed away, two days before their anniversary, she and my dad had been married almost 15 years.

While I doubt he ever got over the shock, my dad stepped into the role of single parent and, all things considered, he did a pretty good job. As we moved through those first weeks, one thing that became apparent was that he didn’t really know how to feed two growing daughters. His ideal pantry consisted of dried Great Northern beans, rosemary, sage, bay leaf, table salt, rock salt, pepper, onions, chicken broth and elbow macaroni.

After the funeral my maternal grandmother offered to stay on for a couple of weeks to help him design a week’s worth of recipes. They’d work with what he knew and incorporate some of what she called her "tricks". I can still see them sitting across the table from each other, supposedly talking about food, eating hot pickled peppers, the tears running down their cheeks, laughing and goading each other like kids trying to see who could eat the most.

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September 27, 2009

Hearts of palm (Recipe: hearts of palm, shrimp and cheese pizza)

Hearts of palm pizza

Guest post by Peter in Brazil, chef and co-owner of Pousada do Capão.

For several months I’ve been meaning to write about hearts of palm, so Lydia’s recent visit to our inn provided the perfect opportunity to kill three birds with one stone: I could cook with her; test the recipe for my hearts of palm, shrimp, and requeijão pizza; and photograph the results.

In my Boston and Rhode Island pantries, a can of hearts of palm was what Lydia would classify as a “pantry special” -- not a staple, but something purchased for curiosity’s sake, on impulse, or for a particular recipe.

Here in my Brazilian pantry, I always keep a jar or a can or two on hand. While they don’t hold a candle to fresh hearts of palm, in a pinch they add texture to a salad or a jardinière, depth and crunch to empadinha filling, body to a soufflé, or interest to a pizza, and they are a pretty decent substitute for artichoke hearts, which are completely unknown in these parts.

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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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