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February 8, 2015

Brussels sprouts, bacon and greens salad with roasted shrimp {gluten-free}

Brussels sprouts, bacon and greens, topped with roasted shrimp (optional), make a fabulous main course salad. #glutenfree

As it turns out, downsizing the pantry, in preparation for our move from the log house to a small apartment in the city, hasn't been the nightmare I'd feared. Instead, I've been discovering hidden treasures in the deep recesses of the shelves, and letting those ingredients inspire new and interesting combinations. Three boxes of powdered buttermilk packets -- enough to make 12 quarts (!) of buttermilk -- revealed themselves last week, and immediately I thought of using some in a salad dressing. The remaining ingredients in this Brussels sprouts, bacon and greens salad came from the pantry, the fridge (bacon and yogurt), and the freezer (shrimp). Lately we've been into raw Brussels sprouts, something I hadn't tried until just a few months ago, and those form the base for this all-seasons salad. In summer, toss in a ripe tomato, or omit the protein altogether and add some nuts or chickpeas for a vegetarian main dish.

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February 7, 2015

Garlic: like or dislike?

Garlic1

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.

Garlic. Can't cook without it, can't stand to be near someone who's eaten too much of it. (It's not called the "stinking rose" for nothing.) That's my dilemma. I'd guess that 75 percent of everything I cook begins with onions and garlic. Cousin Martin isn't crazy about recipes like pesto that call for huge amounts of garlic. How about you?

Garlic: like or dislike?

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February 4, 2015

Moroccan beef stew/tagine with apricots and onions {gluten-free}

Moroccan beef tagine with apricots, onions, and a hint of cinnamon.

Packing continues for our move to Boston in a couple of weeks, and as I pack my kitchen, I'm downsizing like crazy. This means that every pot, pan, dish, and utensil undergoes scrutiny. Have I used it enough to give it precious shelf space in the tiny kitchen I'll have in the new apartment? My Dutch oven makes the cut, of course, and my favorite tagine pot -- one with a cast iron bottom and a ceramic top that looks like an inverted flower pot, made by my friend Bob -- earns its place, too. As I was about to pack the tagine, I decided to give it one more turn in the log house kitchen, and this beef stew with apricots and onions was the happy result. The combination of meat and dried fruit, so popular in North African and Middle Eastern countries, along with cinnamon, elevates this beef stew with a sweet and sour note that's both unusual and pleasing, giving the stew a brighter flavor. I used organic dried apricots, which have a dark, musky color; for little pops of orange in your tagine, choose regular dried apricots, found in the produce section of your supermarket. Ras-el hanout is a spice blend that contains cumin, along with a dozen other spices, and if you can't find it, cumin makes an acceptable substitute.

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February 1, 2015

Thai pineapple fried rice {vegetarian}

Thai pineapple fried rice, with curry, cashews and raisins.

The continuing process of pantry downsizing and clean-out, in preparation for our move from country to city in a couple of weeks, has energized my cooking. Recently, my cleaning yielded a huge bag of jasmine rice (who knew?) and an almost equally large bag of curry powder, never opened. When a grocery delivery came with a free pineapple, I took it as a sign, and began to pull together the rest of the ingredients for this Thai fried rice. Although the dish typically contains fish sauce, I used soy sauce to keep it vegetarian. (For gluten-free, substitute tamari or other gluten-free soy sauce.) If you have time, make the rice ahead, and refrigerate it for a few hours, or overnight, or days in advance; you'll have a much less gluey fried rice. Canned pineapple (not in syrup) can swap in for fresh, and currants can stand in for raisins. Like all fried rice variations, this one is flexible; it's the combination of soy (or fish) sauce with curry powder that sets it apart.

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January 31, 2015

Notebooks: like or dislike?

Notebooks

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, and favorite cooking gear. The things you like are sure to find their way to the recipes here on The Perfect Pantry, so do tell.

Call me old-fashioned, but I keep my recipe ideas, kitchen experiments, and wish lists in notebooks, the non-electronic kind, filled with lined paper. And I write notes with a pen. Yes, I have a smart phone, with apps for taking notes, but I always have a notebook in my pocket or purse to scribble (or sometimes sketch) my inspirations. When I cook, there's a notebook on the countertop, so I can record every step of a recipe, especially the ones I want to share with you. I'm partial to Moleskines, but I have some Russell + Hazel looseleaf notebooks that I love to use when I'm working on e-cookbooks and other projects. Are you a notebook person?

Notebooks: like or dislike?

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  • 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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