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February 27, 2014

Recipe for Mediterranean beef brisket (pressure cooker, slow cooker or stovetop)

Mediterranean beef brisket, made fast (in the pressure cooker) or slow.

When I was a little girl, I witnessed a pressure cooker explosion in my grandmother's kitchen. I can't remember exactly what it was that ended up on her ceiling, but the impression that experience left on me remains, to this day, one of my kitchen nightmares. In a million years, I never expected to be in close promixity to a pressure cooker again, yet thanks to my friend Kalyn, I not only own an electric pressure cooker, but I'm kind of falling in love with it. The first time I pulled the machine out of the box, I made a batch of black beans, without presoaking, in less than an hour. They were perfect, and my kitchen did not blow up. As I learn more about this machine and how to make it work for me, I'm trying a few more recipes. Some have worked, and some have not, but one I really love (and made several times to get the timing right) is this beef brisket with Provencal-style seasoning. Cook it fast, in the pressure cooker, or cook it slow. Like all brisket, it's better on the second day. Now, tell me: do you use a pressure cooker?

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February 18, 2014

Tofu and Brussels sprouts fried rice recipe {vegan}

Tofu and Brussels sprouts fried rice (#vegan), from The Perfect Pantry.

To be honest, if it weren't for my occasional complete and utter laziness in the kitchen, I might never have considered Brussels sprouts for any stir-fry dish. Yes, it's easy to trim the woody bottoms of a few sprouts and thinly slice them for this recipe, but it's even easier to grab a package of shaved Brussels sprouts from the grocery store shelf. I'm not a huge fan of cruciferous vegetables, so to get them into my diet, I cook them with seasonings I know I will like. There are a dozen fried rice recipes on The Perfect Pantry, and now a baker's dozen, as this tofu and Brussels sprouts fried rice is going into permanent rotation in my kitchen. With a quick stir-fry, the sprouts turn bright green and sweet, making them irresistible, even to me. If you don't like tofu, you can swap in any other protein (shrimp, pork, even leftover rotisserie chicken). Remember to cook your rice ahead of time, so it can cool; you can make it days ahead, and store it in the refrigerator. If your rice is pre-cooked, and you sneak into the grocery store for a package of shaved Brussels sprouts, this dish comes together in minutes.

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February 11, 2014

Spicy rice noodle stir-fry recipe

Spicy rice noodle stir fry.

When I first encountered banh pho dried rice noodles -- the noodles often sold as pad Thai noodles, or rice vermicelli -- I thought they were, well... astonishing. After a brief soak in a bowl of warm water, these brittle, opaque noodles got tossed directly into a wok -- no boiling, can you imagine? -- where the heat softened them to chewy perfection in just a minute or two. Wow. Everything, sauce and noodles, cooked in the same pot, and that made a believer out of me. The noodles have no real flavor of their own, and happily soak up any sauce and spices that surround them. This recipe is a template for all kinds of rice noodle stir-fry dishes. Swap turkey, chicken or pork for the beef; add snow peas or bok choy, or any vegetables you have on hand. Banh pho keeps in the pantry cupboard for a year or more, and offers a easy, inexpensive, gluten-free alternative to wheat noodles.

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February 9, 2014

Cayenne pepper (Recipe: doro wot, Ethiopian chicken in red pepper sauce) {gluten-free}

Originally published in November 2006, this updated ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. In the way that pad Thai is often the first dish people try at a Thai restaurant, doro wot might be the most popular dish at Ethiopian restaurants in America. It's great for parties.

Doro wot (Ethiopian chicken in red pepper sauce), from The Perfect Pantry.

Twenty or so years ago, the City of Boston, in a brief spate of urban beautification that would have made Lady Bird Johnson proud, bestowed upon us a Norway maple sapling to fill the empty tree hole in the brick sidewalk in front of our house.

We loved that little tree. So did every dog in the neighborhood.

To discourage the small gifts those dogs left us (in the days before pooper-scoopering was mandatory), we sprinkled cayenne pepper around the tree hole. It worked. Every so often we'd hear a little sneeze... and we'd watch a very surprised puppy move along, perhaps to find a kinder and gentler tree hole.

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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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