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December 7, 2014

40 fabulous holiday cookie recipes

40 fabulous holiday cookie recipes from food bloggers.

'Tis the season to make merry, and to make cookies. And to swap cookies, and decorate cookies, and pack cookies in tins and send them to friends and family far away. For me, there are only two types of holiday cookies: ones with chocolate, and ones without. Of the hundreds and hundreds of cookie recipes I've seen on food blogs, here are 40 of my favorites.

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December 6, 2014

Microplane graters: like or dislike?

Microplane graters, the perfect stocking stuffer for the cook in your life.

Welcome to Like or Dislike, where you get to share how you really feel about ingredients from the pantry, ingredients I'm thinking about adding to my pantry, other seasonal foods, even favorite cooking gear. The things you like are sure to find their way to the recipes here on The Perfect Pantry, so do tell.

Are you a Microplane fan? I have six -- yes, six -- Microplane graters. Some are rasp-shaped, like the ones in the photo; others are more paddle-like. I can't even remember how I grated anything before these clever kitchen tools came along. There's a small-holed one for zesting lemons or grating whole nutmeg. For grating parmesan cheese, I use the larger-holed model. Shredded carrots? Yes. Potatoes? Of course. Chocolate? You bet! Microplanes make perfect stocking stuffers, and now they come in many colors. I'm sure my dad had something like this, without the fancy handles, in his workshop, but I never thought to use it in my kitchen. I feel slightly disloyal to my old box grater, but I'm a Microplane girl now.

Microplane graters: like or dislike?

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December 3, 2014

Quick and easy ploughman's crisps {vegetarian}

Cheddar and chutney on toasted bread, the best parts of a traditional English pub lunch.

On my very first trip to London, my husband Ted, who had lived there for a time, introduced me to the ploughman's (plow man's) lunch. Every pub serves its own variation. The constants are a few slices of crusty bread, a hunk of good, sharp, English Cheddar cheese, and a bit of tart fruit chutney, to which sausage, ham, apples or other treats might be added. (Don't forget a pint of beer or ale on draught, too.) In the pubs, you're served a plate of individual elements to combine in any way that tempts you. During these next few crazy-busy weeks, with holiday preparations in full swing, these ploughman's crisps make a satisfying lunch or light supper, with very little work on the part of the cook. They're also a great savory appetizer nibble for your cookie exchange party, or football Sunday. Use your favorite homemade or store-bought chutney, or try one of our recipes.

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November 30, 2014

Risotto alla Milanese, stovetop or pressure cooker method {gluten-free}

Risotto alla Milanese, the ultimate classic risotto rich with saffron and cheese.

My love affair with risotto began with this saffron-tinged risotto alla Milanese, and now that I'm learning to make risotto in the pressure cooker, I'm more in love than ever before. There are only a handful of ingredients in this dish, so each one needs to be the very best you can find. Real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, good Italian arborio rice, pure saffron threads (expensive, but you only need a pinch), creamy butter, and broth that isn't too salty. When you're cooking with short-grain rices, note that the proportion of liquid to rice is approximately 4-to-1, compared to the 2-to-1 ratio for cooking long-grain white rice; however, in the pressure cooker, which retains more liquid in the cooking process, the proportion is slightly different. I've given you both methods, because I really want you to fall in love with this risotto, too. (And here's a tip for parents: when preparing this for your kids, call it "yellow cheesy rice." It works for us.)

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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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