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A note to readers: For the next several months, a bit of medical mischief (new hips! new knees!) will knock me off my feet. To get ready, I've been cooking up a storm, and I have a summer's worth of brand new recipes to share with you. Though I might not be in the kitchen or scouring local markets for new pantry ingredients, and blog posts might not always reach you on their usual days, I'll be here, responding to comments, answering questions, and working on ebooks. (Truth? I'll probably be reading legal thrillers and binge-watching Modern Family, and maybe Mad Men, again.) To make sure you never miss a recipe, use the box at right to sign up for free email updates.

April 19, 2015

Broccoli slaw salad with peanut-mango-Sriracha dressing {gluten-free}

Broccoli slaw salad with peanut-mango-Sriracha dressing: flavor explosion in a bowl!

QUESTION: How do you know when a salad is really, really good? ANSWER: When you plan for it to be a side dish, but find yourself eating a huge bowl of it as your main course. This broccoli slaw salad hits all the high notes -- sweet, creamy, crunchy, and Sriracha-spicy. Best of all, it's a quick and easy dish if you take advantage of some conveniences from the grocery store, like a bag of pre-shredded broccoli slaw. In the produce section of my supermarket, I found "rainbow slaw", which is broccoli slaw (shredded carrots, cabbage and broccoli stems) with broccoli florets mixed in. Rinse it under cold water before you make the salad, to perk up the vegetables. You can prepare this dish early in the day, and let it sit in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve. Try it on top of a salmon or tuna burger, or with roast chicken or grilled fish. Look for mango nectar in the Latino foods aisle.

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April 18, 2015

Measuring spoons: like or dislike?

Measuring-spoons

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.

If you're a baker, you probably think this week's Like or Dislike is a no-brainer. After all, how can you bake without measuring? For me, a notorious bake-o-phobe, measuring feels confining rather than comforting. When I cook, I seldom reach for measuring spoons, unless I'm creating a recipe for this blog, because I want you to be able to recreate that recipe pretty much as I made it. I prefer the free-form method of measuring -- using the palm of my hand -- for most things. Except when I bake. One tip, if you do use measuring spoons: see how I have them loose, in a mug? Take your spoons off the little connecting rings, and pile them into a container. So much easier to pull out when you need one. So, how do you feel about measuring in general, and about measuring spoons?

Measuring spoons: like or dislike?

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April 15, 2015

Cheese, bacon and guacamole panini

Muenster cheese, bacon and guacamole panini, invented by a food truck!

I didn't invent this sandwich. I wish I'd thought of it, but the truth is that I read about it in the bathroom, where I was flipping through an issue of Boston Magazine. Dubbed "The Green Muenster" in a nod to Boston's Fenway Park and its famous scoreboard wall, The Green Monster, this creation of Roxy's Grilled Cheese Truck sounded so amazing that I had to try my own version. The original is slathered with mayonnaise on the outside, which yields an extra-crispy crust on the bread. I changed it up a bit: thick slices of muenster cheese, bacon, a smear of guacamole, mayonnaise on the inside of the bread, and olive oil on the outside. Salty, creamy, gooey and crunchy, this panini is a truly ethereal meal on its own. If you don't have a panini press, use a stovetop griddle or frying pan, and weight the top of the sandwich with a second frying pan or heavy plate. It's just the kind of comfort food you want on the day your taxes are due.

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April 12, 2015

Slow cooker North African beef and rutabaga stew

North African beef stew with rutabaga, lemon and cilantro, made easy in the slow cooker. From The Perfect Pantry.

"That's really, really good," my husband Ted declared as he inhaled his second helping of this beef and rutabaga stew. We're reaching the end of stew season, but this year's crazy New England weather has left snow on the ground where there should be daffodils, and stew on the stove where there should be fiddleheads and ramps and asparagus. No complaints in my house. Ted loves beef stew in all forms, at all times of year, and this version is so very different from the heavy stews I usually make for him. I cheated a bit, and used a bag of frozen, diced rutabaga; it was my first time trying this convenience food, and for a long-cooking dish like stew, it was great. You can swap fresh rutabaga, of course, or white turnips if you like those better. Warm spices, harissa, lemon, and a hit of fresh cilantro infuse this stew with an unusually bright flavor. Substitute gluten-free flour to make this easily gluten-free.

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April 11, 2015

Cilantro: like or dislike?

Cilantro

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.

Cilantro, also called Chinese parsley or coriander, defines the cuisines of so many countries: Mexico, Brazil, India, Thailand and more. Sadly, I'm one of the 15 percent of people to whom cilantro tastes like soap. Apparently it's a genetic thing, a predisposition, not just a turn-up-your-nose thing. My husband loves cilantro, and my friends are equally divided between the likes and the dislikes. Most people are strongly in one camp or the other. How about you?

Cilantro: 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. Thanks so much for visiting.

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