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April 21, 2011

Recipe for grilled lamb with lemon and garlic {gluten-free}

Grilled lamb with lemon and garlic

In the house where I grew up, my father, the king of the grill, loved to cook lamb chops more than anything else. In my taste memory, those grilled chops are perfect, juicy and a little bit salty, and I don't want to mess with a perfect memory. Instead, I've adopted boneless butterflied leg of lamb as our house specialty. My local supermarket sells leg of lamb in weights from two to three-plus pounds, already boned and butterflied. The basic marinade begins with yogurt and olive oil, and you can spice it up with any combination of flavorings. After a long languish in a marinade, it goes on the grill for less than 20 minutes. One suggestion: even if you're a lamb whisperer like my dad, use an instant-read thermometer. Overcooked lamb is not wonderful, and on a very hot grill, it's easy to overdo it. Cold leftover grilled lamb, on the other hand, is wonderful, on sandwiches and stuffed into pitas.

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June 22, 2010

Bacon, a Pantry Special (Recipe: asparagus, cheese and bacon pizza on a pita)

Asparagus cheese and bacon pizza

In the 12th Century, a small church in England promised a side of bacon to any married man who could swear he had not argued with his wife for a year and a day. A husband who could "bring home the bacon" was highly prized! My husband Ted (also highly prized) loves bacon, and -- true confession -- occasionally I eat bacon, too. Not ham, not proscuitto, not pork chops or any other part of the pig, but I do eat real bacon, the stuff Europeans call streaky bacon, the most ubiquitous bacon sold in the United States. Like many foods, bacon was created as a way to preserve meat in the days before refrigeration. Bacon is cured, brined meat prepared from the belly, back or sides of pork (and from other animals, too, such as duck and wild boar). It's often smoked in large slabs, sometimes with a dry rub. Bacon (especially the fat) lends a smoky, salty flavor to soups and stews. These days, low-sodium and extra-lean versions are easy to find in most supermarkets, and artisanal bacon often shows up at farmers markets.

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May 20, 2010

Oregano (Recipe: grilled lamb, souvlaki style) {gluten-free}

Grilled lamb, souvlaki style. 

Last Spring I planted two types of oregano, Greek and Italian, in my herb garden.

One lived through the winter. One didn't.

Before I tell you which one survived, I want to be clear that this is not a political commentary, nor is it a reflection on which cuisine reigns supreme.

It's not even a matter of taste, as both have strong, unique flavor. (Use any type of fresh oregano sparingly; it's surprisingly potent.)

No, it's just Mother Nature, or the quirks of my herb garden, that enabled the Italian oregano to survive where the Greek oregano could not.

That's the great thing about gardening, though; there's always next year! I'm off to the herbary now for another Greek oregano plant.

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February 21, 2010

Dry bread crumbs (Recipe: Cubano quesadillas)

Cubano quesadilla

TRUE CONFESSION: My pantry harbors its share of convenience foods.

I don't mean pre-fab dinners that get zapped in the microwave.

I mean pantry ingredients that keep for months in the pantry and make my cooking faster, like curry powder, chili powder, tomatoes in a box, beans in a can, harissa in a tube, Sriracha, Ro*Tel, and dry bread crumbs.

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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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