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September 10, 2009

Mahlab (Recipe: Armenian brioche filled with dates, honey and walnuts)


Guest post and photos by Sandie of Inn Cuisine.

As an avid reader of The Perfect Pantry, I have learned much from Lydia’s work: from interesting facts about ingredients I thought I knew, to discovering products and spices completely foreign to me. That’s why, when Lydia asked if I would write a guest post, my mind raced. What pantry ingredient could I feature? What recipe could I share?

In Perfect Pantry style, I decided to push myself, learn about and cook with a pantry item I had not previously heard of or experienced: mahlab.

Continue reading "Mahlab (Recipe: Armenian brioche filled with dates, honey and walnuts)" »

September 6, 2009

Tomato sauce (Recipe: Tex-Mex salsa)

While I'm on vacation, please enjoy this post from Kim, a frequent guest blogger here on The Perfect Pantry.

Tex-Mex salsa

Guest post and photo by Kim in Pasadena, California.

I’m originally from the East Coast, and the most exotic thing I'd eaten before I went into the military back in 1979 was scrapple (that’s one of those “don’t ask, don’t tell" foods).

I had never heard of Southwestern food, never mind Mexican food, so the concept of stuff wrapped in what amounts to a flour or corn pancake was totally outside my understanding. The only thing I’d seen like that was crepes.

My first experience with Mexican food was Taco Bell (no eye rolling allowed). It was quite a wonder for someone coming from a culinary background that had three major types of food: upscale French; cheese steaks/hoagies; and pizza by the slice, topped with cheese and tomato sauce

Continue reading "Tomato sauce (Recipe: Tex-Mex salsa)" »

July 19, 2009

Maple syrup (Recipes: maple nut bread and a maple cocktail)


Guest post and photos by Sarah in Boston.

My dad had a way of making the simplest foods into a celebration.

He spent a lot of his free time in his backyard garden, talking to robins and tilling the soil with his trusty hoe. Each garden season was met with great anticipation: the first rhubarb, green onions, beefsteak tomatoes, basketball-sized cabbage heads -- you name it, he grew it.

For each thing he grew, he created a special ritual to enjoy it, something as simple as walking around with a pocketful of salt so he could eat radishes and cucumbers right out of the garden.

He had his special ways of enjoying other foods, too, like red-skinned peanuts and cold, locally made hot dogs. He was very particular about the hot dogs. He would never eat packaged ones raw, but the ones they made at Tom’s Market he ate by the pound. If I close my eyes, I can still see him sitting at the picnic table, listening to the Detroit Tigers on the radio, with a pound of peanuts and a plastic Tupperware tub of hot dogs, watching his garden, and sometimes fiddling with his car.

Another favorite was maple syrup, and of course he created a family ceremony around the annual spring tapping of the sugar maple in our front yard.

Continue reading "Maple syrup (Recipes: maple nut bread and a maple cocktail)" »

July 12, 2009

Pimentón agridulce/smoked bittersweet paprika (Recipe: chakchouka)


Guest post and photos by Kim in Pasadena, California.

When it comes to discovering new foods and ingredients, I’m like a dog who spots a squirrel. The world simply freezes for me.

I can walk down any grocery aisle in any store, and if there is something I’ve never seen before, my brain puts on the brakes, and before I know it I am reading the label. I’m flexible, but I keep Kosher, so I read carefully.

You’d think I would whip out my BlackBerry at this point, to reveal the mystery ingredient. But I don’t own a BlackBerry, nor do I have Internet on my phone. This might sound strange coming from a computer geek who makes a living building and fixing computers.

Even if I could, looking up stuff right there and then would spoil the ride home for me. All the anticipation until I can get to my computer and Google my new-found treasure is just too delicious. The surprise of some magical taste or a new recipe can be such wonderful journey. 

Sometimes this can be a bit of a let-down (mustard oil comes to mind), sometimes downright scary (got to put black salt in that box). But then there are the times when the food gods smile upon you and you get a real treat. 

Bittersweet paprika is one of those treats.

Continue reading "Pimentón agridulce/smoked bittersweet paprika (Recipe: chakchouka)" »

July 5, 2009

Tequila (Recipe: tequila-lime flank steak, grilled cherry tomato salsa, and a classic margarita)

Please welcome Bryan, who with this post joins The Perfect Pantry as a guest blogger. By day, he's an experience design consultant; he's also a former bartender who studied at the Boston University Wine Resource Center. Bryan is passionate about local and sustainable food, dabbles in photography, and makes a mean mojito. He’s here to to raid that other kitchen cubbyhole most of us have: the liquor cabinet.


Guest post and photos by Bryan in Boston.

I used to bartend some years back at a jazz club, and at the end of my shift it was a habit of mine to mix up a tall, classic margarita.

I’m not talking about what passes for a marg at the neighborhood Chili’s, made with dash of Jose Cuervo, a bit of triple sec, and two or three glugs of sugary sour mix. This was the real deal: 100% blue agave tequila, Cointreau, topped up with freshly squeezed lime juice, rimmed with salt crystals the size of small stones.

The jazz club doubled as a restaurant. Nothing fancy, really -- steak tips, buffalo wings, and the sort -- but after an eight-hour shift standing behind a counter and slinging cocktails to parched salsa dancers, an order of overcooked steak tips tasted like just the closest thing to heaven.

After one particularly busy night, I accidentally spilled my margarita into my steak tips. I don’t remember what I was thinking -- perhaps I was just way too hungry to pick up takeout on the way home -- but I ate them anyway. What I do remember was that they tasted better than they did when they'd come out of the kitchen. (The soaked fries, not so much.)

Continue reading "Tequila (Recipe: tequila-lime flank steak, grilled cherry tomato salsa, and a classic margarita)" »

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my tiny kitchen in Boston's South End, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives. Thanks so much for visiting.

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