When it comes to slow cooker cooking, I consider myself a newbie. While my college friends were experimenting with slow cookers in their dorm rooms, I lived on tuna sandwiches. In fact, I bought my first slow cooker less than five years ago. So I've spent more time reading recipes for slow cooker dishes than actually cooking them. Now that I'm more comfortable with my slow cooker (my favorite is the Ninja Cooking System, a six-quart easy-to-clean marvel that's a crock-pot and also can do "stovetop" cooking, which means I can brown meat right in the pot), I'm paying more attention to technique, and this recipe is all about technique. Rice requires special handling in a slow cooker. To start, you need special rice, i.e.,... Read more →


I know what you're thinking: how can this be barbecue chicken without the drippy brown barbecue sauce? Trust me. This chicken "drips" with all of the sweet, salty, smoky flavors of barbecue, without drowning in sauce, and that makes it perfect for tacos and burritos and quesadillas. Add your own favorite salsa on top, to make this spicy or not. Adapted from my slow cooker barbecue beef brisket recipe, this version, which my grandkids stuffed in burritos, passed the kid-friendly test with flying colors (i.e., they asked for seconds!). I cut down on both sugar and spice, but left all of the things nice: a little hint of adobo sauce from the chipotle, and some chili powder for rich flavor. If you're making this for... Read more →


Before cauliflower gets any more expensive, it's time to put to the test what I've been saying for years. I will eat anything covered with Thai red curry sauce. Anything? Even cauliflower? Well, as it turns out, no, not cauliflower. (You all know how I feel about it.) I tried, I really did, but despite the wonderous and ever-tempting red curry sauce, I just could not fall in love with cauliflower cooked this way. However, my husband Ted happily polished off the entire pot, so I take that as a testament to its deliciousness. If you're really into cauliflower, replace the broccoli with more cauliflower florets; proportions aren't very important. Serve this curry hot, over brown rice, and top with some torn cilantro leaves for... Read more →


I hate going to the dentist, so while I'm there, I distract myself by dreaming up recipes. Is there really anything new under the sun when it comes to corned beef and cabbage, I mused, while Christa, my wonderful dental hygienist, cleaned my teeth a few weeks ago. I got the idea for this lighter, less salty corned beef recipe as we talked (well, she talked, and I made those noises you make when your mouth is full of dental stuff). My husband Ted and I both feel this is the most interesting, tender, seductive corned beef and cabbage we've ever eaten. Pickling spice -- not the little bag that comes in the corned beef package; use fresh, robust pickling spice mix -- gives the... Read more →


Cabbage is on sale in this week before St. Patrick's Day, and if, like me, you're trying to get more cabbage into your life, now's the time to stock up and try a few new recipes. The inspiration for this dish came from one of those throwaway supermarket publications that are so easy to ignore, but occasionally have some great ideas. A fairly routine stir-fry with spicy peanut sauce, this recipe replaces noodles with shredded cabbage. So clever! I promise you'll never miss the extra carbs. If nuts are not your thing, substitute your favorite teriyaki or stir-fry sauce for the peanut sauce. Ground turkey offers an option in place of ground beef, and if you don't eat meat, try tofu instead. Stir-fried beef and... Read more →


In Belo Horizonte, Brazil, there's a street closed off to traffic, lined with shops and filled with people enjoying drinks with friends at small tables set up here and there. Along that street, the name of which I can't remember, we found a wonderful bookstore café that had a large selection of cookbooks, including one with English translation. And in that cookbook was a recipe for lambe-lambe, the kind of un-fancy shellfish and rice dish you'd eat while sitting on the beach at sunset, with your toes in the sand. Part travelogue, part love letter to Brazilian cuisine, Caiçara Cooking: Flavor Between Mountain and Sea (published in 2007) features mouth-watering photos plus recipes in Portuguese, though the translations leave a bit to the imagination. This... Read more →


Readers of The Perfect Pantry over the years know that the way to my husband Ted's heart has a lot to do with beef stew. This year I realized that, despite my good intentions, I forgot to make stew ahead of time for today's holiday of love. The pressure cooker -- and a game-changing new-to-me ingredient I found at a local gourmet shop -- came to my rescue. If you plan better than I do, you can make this stew on the stovetop, in the usual way. At the cheese and gourmet shop at the end of my block, I spied a small rack of what might have been test tubes, filled with a murky substance that would have looked at home in a chemistry... Read more →