Lentil soup spans all seasons, but it will forever remind me of this time of year. When we lived in the log house, warm winters like this were rare (or maybe nonexistent); in March, along with late-season pruning of the pear trees, we spent plenty of time shoveling snow and breaking up the ice on our driveway and porch roof. After we all got warmed up by hard winter work, we collapsed into the Adirondack chairs on the front porch with a cup of something warm and steamy, like this lentil and caramelized onion soup packed with dark leafy greens. Lentils don't need a presoak, as so many legumes do, and you can't overcook them. If they cook until they fall apart into the stock,... Read more →


I have to be honest with you. In real life, this white bean and leek soup looks like dishwater. Looks like it, but does not taste like it. (And because it's hard to photograph dishwater and make it look appetizing, I've added some bacon garnish, though it's absolutely not necessary to this otherwise vegan soup.) What makes this simple bean soup great is the technique of reserving a third of the main ingredients to add after the initial cooking and blending of the rest of the soup. Puréed beans and leeks form the "creamy" base, and every now and then, your spoon will find a whole bean or two to awaken your mouth. If you are vegan, omit the optional garnishes (bacon or grated Parmigiano-Reggiano... 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 →


Sometimes, when the cooking bug takes hold, I start tossing things into a pan or pot, a little more of one ingredient and then another, without a plan. This turkey, sausage and vegetable sauce happened that way, and even after it was cooked, taste-tested, and pronounced utterly blogworthy, I couldn't figure out what to call it. Or how to serve it. So, here are a few ideas. If you're low-carbing, try the sauce on its own, casserole style, or over zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash, or cauliflower rice. If you aren't doing low carb, how about serving it over brown rice for a filling meal in a bowl? For my husband Ted, I boiled some Dreamfields low-effective-carb pasta. Or you could stuff the sauce into hollowed-out... Read more →


What can I tell you? This Mexican-inspired green pozole beef stew zigged, and then it zagged, and in the end, it landed perfectly. In the first version I tried to incorporate a couple of cups of blue corn kernels, a gift from my friend Candy in Albuquerque. It turns out I should have pre-cooked the corn to soften it; the kernels remained hard and chewy long after the meat was tender. Hard, chewy, and a very odd blue-ish purple. In the second version, I used canned hominy, whole corn kernels that have been dried, then treated, so they look like little exploded puff balls of corn (you can buy canned hominy in the Spanish foods aisle of any supermarket). Just what this stew needed. And... Read more →


I'm grateful to slow cooker manufacturers everywhere for not actually building the airtight appliances they intended to build. Nothing makes me happier than the house filling with the aroma, escaping from under the lid, of whatever is gently cooking in the pot for many hours. A recipe like this Tex-Mex chicken and rice, with corn and black beans tucked here and there, can cook on the stovetop, but in the slow cooker, the flavors have a chance to intermingle on their own (without tending by you), and the musky scent of cumin warms up the kitchen as it cooks. You'll find jars of sofrito in the Spanish foods section of your supermarket. If you use converted rice, you can cook rice right in with the... Read more →


Instead of a huge dinner, with one large hunk of meat at the center, I prefer to set out a selection of small dishes so my holiday guests can pick and choose and nibble their way through an evening. For New Year's Eve, the "spread" can be extra-elaborate: cheese, bread, pickled things, some slices of smoked fish (and if you're a pork eating person, you'll want some prosciutto or other ham), fruit, roasted peppers, small bowls of pasta, spiced nuts. Any combination of dishes will work, but for me, regardless of whatever else is on the table, turkey meatballs are a must. These apple, Cheddar and cranberry turkey meatball appetizer bites bring together all of the traditional flavors of a New England apple pie, and... Read more →