[After a year of Saturdays, welcome to our final Like or Dislike. Next Saturday, we'll introduce a new fun photo feature.] Salt: can't cook without it. Period. End of story. Kosher salt is my cooking salt of choice; sea salt is the salt I use to add pop on a salad. I've never been a person who adds salt to their food at the table, unless I'm in a restaurant where the food is grievously underseasoned, but I know that a pinch of salt, even in sweet foods, enhances the natural flavor of other ingredients. How do you feel about salt? Salt: like or dislike? Last week: dark chocolate. After a year of Like or Dislike, it's time for something new. Next week, we begin... Read more →


[Welcome to Like or Dislike, where you get to share how you really feel about ingredients from the pantry, ingredients I'm thinking about adding to my pantry, other seasonal foods, and favorite cooking gear. The things you like are sure to find their way to the recipes here on The Perfect Pantry, so do tell.] 'Tis the weekend when almost everyone is talking about chocolate, or thinking about it, and dark chocolate is the way to go. Never mind that it's full of antioxidants, and helps to regulate blood sugar, or that it just plain tastes good. Dark chocolate can spice up your Valentine's Day with a few aphrodisiac effects: it helps increase blood flow, elevates mood, and boosts energy. So what's not to love?... Read more →


[Welcome to Like or Dislike, where you get to share how you really feel about ingredients from the pantry, ingredients I'm thinking about adding to my pantry, other seasonal foods, and favorite cooking gear. The things you like are sure to find their way to the recipes here on The Perfect Pantry, so do tell.] Cornstarch is enjoying a resurgence in my pantry these days. Not only is it a great coating for stir-fried foods, but it's also my thickener of choice when I make stews and some sauces. Because it's gluten-free, cornstarch helps me cook for my gluten-free friends. And you can buy cornstarch in every grocery store, everywhere (in other countries, it's called corn flour), which makes it much more convenient than arrowroot,... Read more →


[Welcome to Like or Dislike, where you get to share how you really feel about ingredients from the pantry, ingredients I'm thinking about adding to my pantry, other seasonal foods, and favorite cooking gear. The things you like are sure to find their way to the recipes here on The Perfect Pantry, so do tell.] I'm having a hard time imagining anyone not liking olive oil. It's not the only oil I use, but it's always, always, always in my kitchen. I keep both extra-virgin olive oil, the really good kind, with a more delicate flavor, for finishing salads and making dressing. And I use regular olive oil, the less expensive stuff, for cooking, when the fresh taste of extra virgin oil would be lost... Read more →


[Welcome to Like or Dislike, where you get to share how you really feel about ingredients from the pantry, ingredients I'm thinking about adding to my pantry, other seasonal foods, and favorite cooking gear. The things you like are sure to find their way to the recipes here on The Perfect Pantry, so do tell.] Now that I live in the city, with a little market right across the street, when I crave something chocolate I tend to run out and get a Hershey bar. I forget all about the cocoa powder that is always in my pantry. The cocoa powder that could become a cup of hot chocolate, or a batch of chocolate cookies, more than enough to satisfy any craving. Cocoa powder isn't... Read more →


[Welcome to Like or Dislike, where you get to share how you really feel about ingredients from the pantry, ingredients I'm thinking about adding to my pantry, other seasonal foods, and favorite cooking gear. The things you like are sure to find their way to the recipes here on The Perfect Pantry, so do tell.] Recently, my 25-year-old food processor bit the dust. Faced with the decision whether to replace it -- at this stage in my life, I'm downsizing everything -- I came to the realization that I simply do not want to be without a food processor ever again. Yes, I can do everything by hand that a food processor can do: chopping, mashing, kneading. I just don't want to spend the time... Read more →


[Welcome to Like or Dislike, where you get to share how you really feel about ingredients from the pantry, ingredients I'm thinking about adding to my pantry, other seasonal foods, and favorite cooking gear. The things you like are sure to find their way to the recipes here on The Perfect Pantry, so do tell.] I love "pearls" of couscous: large pearls, small pearls, white pearls, wheat pearls. It's all the same, all made the same way, semolina, sprinkled with water, rolled by hand (traditionally by women) into tiny pellets, dusted with flour to keep the granules separate, and put through a sieve to remove excess flour and undersized pellets, which are then re-rolled into more couscous. We cook couscous like a pasta, which it... Read more →