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March 13, 2014

Dry beans (Recipe: everything-from-the-pantry bean soup) {vegetarian}

Originally published in December 2006, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe, which I now like to make meatless. You can add some chicken or sausage for your omnivorous eaters.

Everything-from-the-pantry bean soup #vegetarian.

By nature and by habit, I am a decanter.

Not the kind with an hourglass figure (don't I wish?) and a cork stopper.

No, I am a person who decants almost everything in my pantry into clear jars so I can see how much of each item I have on hand. I've never been able to divine, just by looking at a box on the shelf, exactly how much sugar, or rice, or bulgur wheat, is left in the box. The smaller jars, mostly one-quart canning size, hold the things I use in smaller quantities: lentils, cocoa powder, arrowroot, table salt for baking. In medium jars, I keep various kinds of rice, and breakfast cereals. The large jars hold the basics: sugars, kosher salt, flours.

My favorite jars are what I call the amalgamators: the jar that holds leftover odds and ends of dry pasta, and the one that gathers dry beans. I only allow like-minded beans — those that cook in approximately the same time, or have the same texture or color — to cohabit. Today, my bean jar contains red kidneys and Anasazi beans, and a few navy beans hiding at the bottom. At other times, it might have cranberry beans, if I'm lucky enough to find them, or pink pintos.

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March 2, 2014

Black bean, tomato and sausage soup recipe

Black bean, tomato and sausage soup (The Perfect Pantry).

Sometimes -- most times -- I really love my well-stocked pantry. With snow swirling outside and shoveling to be done (how quickly the glow of our warm-weather vacation wore off), I reviewed what I had in the cupboard and refrigerator while I cleared a ragged just-wide-enough path to the driveway. Back in the kitchen, I sat my favorite red Dutch oven on the stovetop, and collected ingredients for this black bean, tomato and sausage soup. Absolutely everything in this recipe comes straight from the pantry, and the soup comes together in minutes if you start with canned black beans. The whole, more than the sum of its parts, restored my energy and soothed my tired muscles. Make the soup mild or spicy, depending on how much snow you have to shovel.

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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 2, 2014

Hot sauce (Recipe: smoky brown rice and lentils) {vegan, gluten-free}

Originally published in November 2006, this updated ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. To me, lentils plus brown rice equals comfort food. Use your favorite store-bought or homemade smoky barbecue sauce; I love Rhode Island's own Cowboy Ketchup, gluten-free and not too spicy. Serve this vegan combination as a side dish, or a Meatless Monday main dish with a side salad.

Smoky brown rice and lentils for Meatless Mondays (The Perfect Pantry).

For as long as I can remember, I've had a bottle of Tabasco hot sauce in my pantry.

For many years, it was the same bottle. I used to buy the little two-ounce supermarket standard, and those two ounces would sit on the shelf for a few years, until the sauce turned brown and gunky. I'd throw it out, and buy another little bottle, and start the cycle all over again. No matter what a recipe called for, I never used more than a drop at a time. Sometimes I just left out the hot sauce altogether. I was afraid of the heat.

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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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