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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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January 28, 2015

40 fabulous recipes with peanut butter

40 fabulous peanut butter recipes, sweet and savory!

As my husband Ted and I prepare for the move back to Boston (and much smaller pantry space), I've been cleaning out and using up some ingredients that have been languishing. I'm embarrassed to tell you I found three jars of peanut butter on the shelf, which is weird, considering that I'm not a huge peanut butter fan. I do love PB in sauces (especially spicy Asian-inspired ones), but there's so much more you can do with it. And if you bake, you can probably give me a hundred ideas of how to use some of what I've got on hand. These 40 recipes that feature peanut butter really inspire me. What's your favorite way to use it?

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January 25, 2015

Pressure cooker chickpea gremolata with green olives, pine nuts and raisins {vegan, gluten-free}

Chickpea gremolata with olives and raisins #vegan #glutenfree

Other than in hummus, chickpeas don't turn me on. Or they didn't, until I tried this chickpea gremolata and pumped it up with pine nuts and raisins and green olives. This dish was the kind of perfect storm that can occur when you have a perfect pantry: a long-forgotten gift package of dried chickpeas discovered on the back shelf of the cupboard; a bag of giant mixed raisins from Trader Joe's; and a pressure cooker standing empty. The best thing about this dish is the texture of the chickpeas. Without any presoaking, add the dry chickpeas to the pressure cooker, and what comes out is not in the least bit mushy or overcooked, without any canned-chickpea aftertaste. Then, toss those un-mushy chickpeas with robust fresh ingredients for a quick marriage of sweet and salty and olive oil and heat. Divine.

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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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