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October 12, 2014

Basque chicken with bell pepper and tomato {gluten-free}

Basque chicken baked with bell peppers and tomato. #glutenfree

The older I get, the more I like to keep my cooking simple. Honestly, I like to keep everything simple. So, when I revisited this recipe for chicken basquaise, originally published in 2007, I knew I could streamline the steps without sacrificing any of the flavor. The Espelette pepper lends a muskiness to the chicken; if you haven't got it on your spice rack, substitute mild smoked paprika, Aleppo pepper, or urfa pepper. As good as the chicken is on the day you make it, the dish is that much better the next day. Enjoy this stew hot, served with noodles or rice, or cold. It's a great make-ahead entertaining dish, too.

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October 5, 2014

North African harissa turkey and butternut squash stew {gluten-free}

Turkey and squash stew spiced with North African harissa hot pepper paste. #glutenfree

When we first moved into the log house fifteen years ago, we installed radiant heat under the kitchen floor. A small probe sticks out the side of the house, and when the temperature outdoors goes below 50°F, the probe triggers the thermostat and kicks on the gentle heat in the kitchen. At about that same time of year, when it's cooler outside, my cooking heats up, too. There's no shortage of hot chiles, hot pepper sauce, and hot ground peppers in my pantry from cultures around the world. One of my favorites, harissa -- a smoky, fiery, little-goes-a-long-way red pepper paste from North Africa -- adds the zing to the mild turkey and butternut squash in this dish. I use my favorite rice cooker to cook brown rice, which makes an ideal base for the stew; start the rice an hour before you're ready to make the rest of the recipe, or make it ahead of time and reheat before serving.

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September 24, 2014

Roasted beet risotto with goat cheese and beet greens, pressure cooker or stovetop {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Roasted beet risotto with goat cheese and beet greens. #vegetarian #glutenfree

In high school chemistry class, my lab partner, Bill, did all of the experiments, and I handled the write-ups. This division of labor served us well, as it had the previous year in biology lab, except that I had the hardest time describing the colors of whatever concoction was reacting in the test tube. Orangish-yellow? Reddish-purple? Bill and I struggled over what to name our colors. (Obviously, neither of us grew up to work for Benjamin Moore paints or J. Crew, where we could have gotten a whole lot more creative with color names.) I don't know how to describe the color of this roasted beet risotto, either. Red? Pink? Salmon? Reddish-pinkish-salmon? It's gorgeous, I'll say that, and the photos really do show its beauty. However, for the taste, which is also glorious and and creamy and a bit sweet from the roasted beets, you'll have to make it yourself. If goat cheese isn't your thing, you can substitute feta, but feta doesn't melt, so your risotto will be more red. Reddish-purple. Oh, you know.

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September 14, 2014

Slow cooker Caribbean pepper pot {gluten-free}

Caribbean pepper pot, filled with chicken, shrimp, squash and kale.

A few weeks ago, I awoke in the middle of the night, craving Caribbean pepper pot. Can you imagine what I was dreaming about? Adventures on the high seas? Salsa dancing on the beach? Bright colored head scarves and flowing tunics? Johnny Depp? I wish I could remember. Not to worry, though: I remembered the important part: spicy stew, filled with the goodness of the islands, and I absolutely had to make it. In my dream there was shrimp and rice and callaloo, a typical dark leafy green grown throughout the Caribbean. It's not impossible to find callaloo at specialty supermarkets, but I swapped kale, which was perfect. Most pepper pot recipes call for fiery hot habañero peppers in terrifying quantities. I substituted several milder jalapeños, and there was still plenty of kick. Please do not omit the pepper. If you don't like spicy food, make another dish. After all, this one is called pepper pot for a reason. I made enough for Ted, Christine, Rebecca, Shweta and Robby, who had his portion for breakfast, and when they polished it off, I regretted I hadn't made more. May the recipe bring you amazing food-filled dreams.

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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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