July 28, 2013

Kosher salt (Recipe: Moroccan eggplant salad) {vegan, gluten-free}

First published in May 2007, this updated ingredient post features new photos, link, and tweaks to the recipe. The eggplant salad, taught to me by a neighbor who grew up in Morocco and owned our local dry cleaning shop, is perfect for summer, when both eggplant and tomatoes come straight from the garden.

Moroccan eggplant salad with tomatoes and fresh herbs.

Is kosher salt, the darling of chefs and cookbook authors, just another flaky food fashion?

Is it saltier than table salt, better for health or baking or taste?

Is all kosher salt the same?

Is it even kosher?

Inquiring minds want to know.

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December 13, 2012

Recipe for slow-cooker kasha with caramelized onions and mushrooms

A dish from my grandmother's kitchen, kasha with caramelized onions and mushrooms, updated for the slow cooker.

Some time during the summer, my slow cooker took up residence on the kitchen counter, and ever since, I've been inspired to adapt some of my favorite stove top recipes to the low-and-slow method. Kasha (buckwheat groats) reminds my taste buds of the best comfort food that came out of my Polish grandmother's kitchen, and it never fails to satisfy, whether I'm serving it as a side dish with roast chicken or brisket, or a lunch or light supper entree with a tangy green salad on the side. If you've never cooked with kasha before, look for it in the ethnic foods aisle at your grocery store; it comes in three different granulations -- fine, medium, and coarse. This kasha, kicked up a bit with caramelized onions and mushrooms, does its thing without the frequent tending the stove top version demands, down to browning the onions right in the slow cooker. You can make ahead and freeze, then reheat in the microwave.

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December 9, 2012

Harissa (Recipe: vegan squash or pumpkin stew with chickpeas and carrots) {gluten-free}

First published in November 2007, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos, links, and a few tweaks to the recipe. Spicy harissa gives this stew a smoky kick; use more or less, to your taste. If you have a tagine, a Moroccan cooking or serving pot with a conical top, serve this in traditional North African style.

Vegan squash (or pumpkin) stew with carrots, chickpeas, and harissa for a kick.

Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.

Ilsa didn't go to Rick's Café Americain for the food. In fact, nobody went to Rick's for the food. Drinking, yes. Smoking, of course. Gambling and trading? You betcha. A rousing chorus of La Marseillaise? Absolutely!

But food? Not a bite, and what a shame, because Rick's, the place to see and be seen in the classic film, Casablanca, surely might have had wonderful food, including couscous and tagines with spicy homemade harissa.

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October 25, 2012

Recipe for lamb tagine with garlic, honey and raisins

Lamb tagine with garlic, honey and raisins.

When you think of a tagine, you probably picture tender chunks of meat stewed in liquid, with vegetables or maybe chickpeas, poured over couscous or rice. This lamb tagine with garlic, honey and raisins isn't quite the stew you imagine. I'd call it lamb candy, if that made any sense at all, because the honey and fruit give the meat a sweet, caramelized glaze that is so good, you'll want to lick every bit off your fork. Garlic and lemon keep the dish well balanced, adding just enough savory notes on your taste buds. Though lamb is a traditional favorite, you can make this dish with beef or chicken, too. It's a wow dish for parties, and you'll love the leftovers for lunch the next day.

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October 21, 2012

Recipe for chicken salad with walnuts, celery, and pomegranate-harissa yogurt sauce

Chicken salad with walnuts, celery, and pomegranate-harissa yogurt sauce, from The Perfect Pantry.

In Boston's South End neighborhood, where my husband Ted and I moved more than thirty years ago, almost every corner used to boast a spa (Boston-speak for an all-purpose market), or a Middle Eastern grocery, or a bar. The bars have long since closed -- many replaced by the fine restaurants that now define the South End -- and, sadly, most of the Middle Eastern businesses have gone, too. The spas endure, and almost every one that offers prepared food sells a basic, uninspired, too-much-mayo chicken salad. My new chicken salad recipe with walnuts and celery features a pomegranate-harissa yogurt sauce that reminds me of the wonderful ingredients I used to buy at the local Middle Eastern markets. It's sweet and tangy, and as spicy as you want to make it, perfect in a sandwich or lettuce wrap. If I owned a spa in the neighborhood, I'd make this my signature chicken salad.

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About The Perfect Pantry®

  • 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.

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