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March 18, 2015

Spicy beef, bok choy, and bell pepper stir-fry

Spicy beef, bok choy and bell pepper stir fry: the ultimate comfort food.

For some people, comfort food means mac and cheese, or meatloaf and mashed potatoes. For me, a spicy stir-fry soothes the spirit, and just the act of cooking one, the chopping and prepping and tossing and stirring, calms me down. It's been a crazy month as we've moved from country to city. We're settling in quickly, thanks in no small part to my husband Ted's hard work and tireless box-lugging, and I've been breaking in the kitchen by cooking my own brand of comfort food dishes. Now that I live a few blocks from Ming's, a great Asian supermarket, I can find hard-to-find vegetables like baby bok choy, which is the perfect size for stir-fry recipes like this one. To prepare it, simply slice each little head in half lengthwise. Of course you can use a regular head of bok choy, and cut it into large pieces, or even substitute another type of cabbage. And you can swap chicken or tofu for the beef. Chili paste with garlic, oyster sauce and soy sauce combine for my favorite stir-fry flavoring, and to my way of thinking, there's really no substitute for it.

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March 8, 2015

Lemon, artichoke and shrimp risotto {gluten-free}

Lemon, artichoke and shrimp risotto, easy to make on the stovetop or in the pressure cooker.

During the month before we moved from the log house to the city, we cobbled together a lot of from-the-pantry meals as we worked to downsize and pack. With time and energy in short supply, almost every day I pulled out my electric pressure cooker, which made quick work of many batches of soup and every imaginable kind of risotto (so much rice in the cupboard!). And, as the cupboard grew more and more bare, some of these on-the-fly meals weren't quite as successful as others. This lemon, artichoke and shrimp risotto -- inspired by a forgotten can of artichoke hearts -- was one of the winners. Frozen artichoke hearts will work just as well, and you can omit the shrimp and substitute a rich vegetable broth to make a vegetarian version.

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March 4, 2015

Grilled curry chicken with chutney and rice {gluten-free}

Use your panini press or broiler to grill this easy curry chicken.

The weather outside has been frightful, but chicken cooked on a grill is always delightful. If you like to stand outside in your coat, scarf and mittens and tend the grill, my hat's off to you. However, a grill pan on the stove or, in this case, a panini press, can give you that grill char you love, without suffering in the cold for it. The secret to great curry chicken is a long marinade, so start this recipe in the morning for dinner, or even the night before. Toss together the marinade ingredients, and pour them over the chicken. Refrigerate, and it will be ready to grill when you're ready. You can broil this in the oven, but a grill pan or panini press will give you those beautiful marks as well as the smoky grill flavor. Double the recipe, while you've got the grill heated; you can refrigerate or even freeze the leftovers for sandwiches, stews and curries. What a great way to banish winter.

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March 1, 2015

Pressure cooker barley soup with chicken, sausage, mushrooms and leeks

Make this pressure cooker barley soup on the stovetop, and use your favorite chicken sausage.

I know what you're thinking: this soup doesn't look very soupy, does it? Well, in real life, it's a soupy soup, but in the life of a food blogger who wants to show you the goodness swimming below the surface, and who removes a little too much of the broth to make sure the barley and other ingredients reveal themselves in the photographs, it's a bit hard to see that there is, in fact, really rich liquid binding everything together. Although you can surely make this soup in a Dutch oven on the stovetop, the pressure cooker, if you have one, does an exceptional job of pumping flavor into broths, and tenderizing grains. It's really a kind of double soup recipe. First, you make a chicken broth; then, use the meat from the broth to enrich the barley soup. This freezes well, so make a batch today, and save some for later. On the snowiest days of winter, you'll be glad to have some of this soup on hand for apres-shoveling lunches.

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February 18, 2015

Spaghetti squash boat with clams, zucchini, peppers and olives {gluten-free}

Roasted spaghetti squash boats filled with clams, vegetables and cheese. #glutenfree

Today, despite the umpteenth day of snow, The Perfect Pantry® departs the log house kitchen, where the blog was born and where my e-books and their headless videos came to life, and moves to the city. My husband Ted and I are excited to return full-time to Boston's South End, a multi-ethnic neighborhood where we've lived since 1980. I'm going to take a few days to unpack, organize the kitchen and pantry, and stock up at the wonderful local stores -- Syrian Grocery (olives, spices, pita bread), Formaggio (cheese, bread and more spices), Ming's Market (Asian), Morse Fish, Foodies supermarket (great produce and butcher) -- that are within blocks of our apartment. I also have to figure out where, and how, to take food photographs in the new space. If you're curious, I'll be sharing photos of my new kitchen in the next Tidbits newsletter, so if you're not already subscribed (it's free), click this link to sign up. In the meantime, I want you to keep cooking, so I'm leaving you with a spaghetti squash recipe, one we've made many times over the past few months, and I hope you'll try it this week. If you don't love clams, substitute shrimp or scallops or mussels, and for liquid, use a bottle of clam juice from the supermarket. I'll be back soon with more recipes -- sooner if you come and help me unpack -- and Like or Dislike will be here on Saturday morning as usual.

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Welcome to The Perfect Pantry®

  • 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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