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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 15, 2015

Salsa verde turkey and brown rice bowl with avocado and cheese {gluten-free}

Salsa verde turkey and brown rice bowl, topped with avocado and cheese, makes a perfect one-dish meal.

When I set out to create a recipe for The Perfect Pantry, I often begin by jotting down ingredients and the quantities of each that I think will bring the dish to life. As I cook, I adjust and fine-tune. When the recipe works, you see it here. When it doesn't, I go back to the drawing board and start again. In the first notes about this salsa verde turkey, I was certain I'd add a can of chopped green chiles. Fortunately -- and here is the important lesson -- I tasted the salsa first. I used a jar of Trader Joe's Hatch Valley Salsa, a hot-hot-hot green chile salsa, and it was plenty hot enough for me. In the recipe, I caution you to taste your green salsa, as there are so many varieties of store-bought salsa that will be great in this recipe. Use a mild tomatillo salsa, or an incendiary one; it doesn't matter, as long as it's green, and you like the taste.

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February 11, 2015

French-style beef stew with onions, mushrooms and peas

French-style beef stew with onions, mushrooms and peas, and lots of red wine!

Once or twice over the past years, or perhaps a few dozen times more often than that, I might have mentioned to you that the way to my husband Ted's heart is through beef stew. Each year I try to come up with a new variation for him. This French-style beef stew takes the best features of daube, boeuf Bourguignon, and boeuf aux carottes (without the carrots), and mashes them together. And yes, a whole bottle of good red wine poured into the pot coaxes all of the ingredients into perfect harmony. I like to use frozen pearl onions, which are already peeled and need no further fussing, and peas with their bright, flash-frozen flavor of summer. Yukon Gold potatoes can swap in for the red-skinned potatoes; both will hold their shape in the stew, and that's what you want. Right before I pack up the kitchen for our move next week, I'm going to make a batch of this stew for Ted, for Valentine's Day.

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February 4, 2015

Moroccan beef stew/tagine with apricots and onions {gluten-free}

Moroccan beef tagine with apricots, onions, and a hint of cinnamon.

Packing continues for our move to Boston in a couple of weeks, and as I pack my kitchen, I'm downsizing like crazy. This means that every pot, pan, dish, and utensil undergoes scrutiny. Have I used it enough to give it precious shelf space in the tiny kitchen I'll have in the new apartment? My Dutch oven makes the cut, of course, and my favorite tagine pot -- one with a cast iron bottom and a ceramic top that looks like an inverted flower pot, made by my friend Bob -- earns its place, too. As I was about to pack the tagine, I decided to give it one more turn in the log house kitchen, and this beef stew with apricots and onions was the happy result. The combination of meat and dried fruit, so popular in North African and Middle Eastern countries, along with cinnamon, elevates this beef stew with a sweet and sour note that's both unusual and pleasing, giving the stew a brighter flavor. I used organic dried apricots, which have a dark, musky color; for little pops of orange in your tagine, choose regular dried apricots, found in the produce section of your supermarket. Ras-el hanout is a spice blend that contains cumin, along with a dozen other spices, and if you can't find it, cumin makes an acceptable substitute.

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January 21, 2015

Slow cooker shredded beef chili with beans

Slow cooker shredded beef chili, topped with guacamole and lime. Sublime!

On a cold day a few weeks ago, my husband Ted and I had pre-theater dinner with our friends Mary and Mike at our favorite across-the-street-from-the-house restaurant. We shared an appetizer-sized portion of short rib chili, just a few heavenly rich and sweet bites for each of us. When I decided to make my own version, I knew I wanted something a bit leaner; after all, some of the amazingness of the chili came from the fatty short ribs. So, instead, I used my stand-by, brisket. Coffee and cocoa give this chili a deep Mexican mole undertone. A hit of fresh lime juice at the very end is an absolute must, and a blob of guacamole on top makes the dish just about perfect. The chili freezes well, so make the full recipe and you'll be all set for weeknight dinners or that upcoming big football game.

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  • 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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