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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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February 6, 2014

Instant couscous (Recipe: sweet couscous for a crowd) {vegetarian}

Originally published in August 2006, this updated ingredient post features new photos and links. The recipe -- so simple, I feel funny calling it a recipe -- is something I've been making for decades. It's a perfect accompaniment to spicy chicken or vegetable stews.

Sweet couscous with raisins and pine nuts (The Perfect Pantry).

Last winter, I treated my kitchen to a couscoussier, a double-decker pot used to create traditional Moroccan stews and couscous. The stew goes in the bottom, and rising steam infuses and plumps the couscous resting in the perforated top compartment.

It's a beautiful thing, but I have yet to use it.

I tried. I really did. My cooking group made a menu called Preserving the Lemon, which included three dishes inspired by Moroccan cuisine. We used our tagines, but when it came time to set up the couscoussier — and start the slow process of rinsing, drying, steaming and steaming again — we looked at each other and, in unison, said, "Instant couscous!"

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December 3, 2013

Peanut oil (Recipe: latkes/potato pancakes) {vegetarian}

First published in December 2009, this updated ingredient post features new links and tweaks to the recipe. Even though we associate latkes with Chanukah, they're a crowd pleaser at any time of year. Make small ones for your Sunday football parties, or large ones for a vegetarian dinner main dish. Kids love latkes smothered with sour cream or apple sauce.

Latkes (potato pancakes): appetizer, side dish, or main course.

Rudolf Diesel had a dream.

When the German inventor and Utopian idealist demonstrated his new engine at the 1900 Paris World Exposition, it ran not on petroleum, but on peanut oil.   

In the perfect world, Diesel believed, renewable biofuels like peanut oil could power farm machinery and automobiles. In our imperfect world, my car still drinks gasoline, but peanut oil powers my frying.

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September 24, 2013

Recipe for roasted green beans and potatoes with creamy sesame dressing {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Roasted green beans and potatoes with creamy sesame dressing.

A new-to-the-blog reader, who happens to live nearby in Rhode Island, mentioned recently that she's been reluctant to try some ethnic recipes because she doesn't believe in single-purpose ingredients. Of course that's the premise behind this site, to use what's in our pantries in more than one way.  This recipe for roasted green beans and potatoes with creamy sesame dressing proves the point. If you have a tin of tahini (sesame paste) in your pantry, odds are you're planning to make hummus. I love hummus, and I've shared recipes for asparagus, lemon-onion, and roasted red pepper and garlic hummus, but there's so much more you can do with tahini. Like peanut butter, which makes a good substitute, nutty tahini blends with tangy ingredients like buttermilk, lemon or yogurt to make wonderful and unexpected salad dressings and sauces with Middle Eastern flair. Use any vegetables you have on hand; I like beans and potatoes, but bell pepper, onion, broccoli, zucchini or eggplant -- or all of them together -- also would be delicious in this recipe.

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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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