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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)" »

May 31, 2009

Feta cheese (Recipe: baked shrimp with tomatoes and feta) {gluten-free}

Baked shrimp with tomato and feta.

When I was younger, I learned a lot of what I knew about boys in summer camp, from my girlfriends who had older siblings or whose mothers had had "the talk" before mine ever worked up the courage to give it a try.

Similarly, I learned a lot of what I knew about food from my friends who had grandparents and parents from Italy and Puerto Rico and the American South. Pasta and parmesan, enchiladas and chicken fried steak -- all were new to me.

I didn't know any kids from Greek families, though, so it took years before I learned about feta cheese.

Continue reading "Feta cheese (Recipe: baked shrimp with tomatoes and feta) {gluten-free}" »

May 24, 2009

Tea (Recipe: "smoked" egg salad)

Please welcome Kim, who with this post joins The Perfect Pantry as guest blogger. Kim lives in Pasadena, California; she is the business manager for a local farmers market, and also the Friday cook for a nonprofit organization that gathers donated food from various locations, and makes and serves meals to the homeless. This is her first-ever blog post.


Guest post and photos by Kim in Pasadena, California

Many years ago, one of the rites of passage into womanhood was "going to tea" with my friends.

Back then, the really haute-couture department stores had their own tearooms for ladies to rest after a day's shopping. My mother would sometimes take me to tea so I would learn the proper way for a lady to act and dress.

Just about the time I came of age for tea parties, the Beatles, Rolling Stones and (for me) Jethro Tull swept me off to wilder places that were unencumbered by rules and roles. I couldn't really see going to tea in bell-bottoms and a tube top!

Continue reading "Tea (Recipe: "smoked" egg salad)" »

May 17, 2009

Coffee (Recipe: how to brew the perfect cup of coffee)


Guest post and photos by Sarah in Boston

Like every dad, mine gave his opinion freely, but there were some things he considered life skills. He couldn't understand how you would ever be able to get through life without them.

These included: how to drive a car while shifting between gears so you could glide through curves and down hills instead of using the brake; staying at a consistent speed on the highway to conserve gas (in the days before cruise control); parallel parking in three turns of the wheel. 

He also felt very strongly about his coffee. This wasn't about buying expensive coffee or the perfect coffee pots -- just the basics on how to brew a strong cup of coffee. And whether you planned to use the brewed coffee in a recipe or drink it straight, the method was still the same.

Continue reading "Coffee (Recipe: how to brew the perfect cup of coffee)" »

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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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