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Welcome to The Perfect Pantry, now with larger type, larger photos, and a design that's easier to read on your tablet or phone. For more goodies you won't find here on the blog, subscribe to my free newsletter, Tidbits. And to make sure you never miss a recipe, use the box at right to sign up for email updates.

March 1, 2015

Pressure cooker barley soup with chicken, sausage, mushrooms and leeks

Make this pressure cooker barley soup on the stovetop, and use your favorite chicken sausage.

I know what you're thinking: this soup doesn't look very soupy, does it? Well, in real life, it's a soupy soup, but in the life of a food blogger who wants to show you the goodness swimming below the surface, and who removes a little too much of the broth to make sure the barley and other ingredients reveal themselves in the photographs, it's a bit hard to see that there is, in fact, really rich liquid binding everything together. Although you can surely make this soup in a Dutch oven on the stovetop, the pressure cooker, if you have one, does an exceptional job of pumping flavor into broths, and tenderizing grains. It's really a kind of double soup recipe. First, you make a chicken broth; then, use the meat from the broth to enrich the barley soup. This freezes well, so make a batch today, and save some for later. On the snowiest days of winter, you'll be glad to have some of this soup on hand for apres-shoveling lunches.

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February 28, 2015

Cloth napkins: like or dislike?

Cloth-napkins

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.

When, twenty years ago, our daughter returned from a year of study and eco-travel around the world, the first thing she did was banish paper napkins (serviettes, for those of you who live where "napkins" means diapers) from our house. She was right, of course, that we'd never paid attention to the huge amount of paper waste we were generating. These days, we have a huge stash of mismatched cloth napkins that we use for everyday as well as for special occasions. It's possible that, at some point, we actually had matching napkins, but now we have a hodge-podge of colors and patterns. Sometimes our table settings look a bit like a Mardi Gras parade, but the crazy collection of cloth napkins has become who we are. How about you? Do you use paper napkins, cloth napkins, or both? And if you use cloth napkins, do they match? [Thanks to my husband Ted for suggesting this week's Like or Dislike question.]

Cloth napkins: like or dislike?

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February 21, 2015

Lentils: like or dislike?

Lentils2

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.

I don't remember eating lentils until I went away to college. Nobody in my circle of school friends had any money, and lentils were cheap cheap cheap at the local health food co-op. My friends and I cooked up soups and stews on the (illegal) hot plates in our dorm rooms, and served big bowls of steaming goodness with hunks of very grainy bread slathered with sweet butter. (And yes, there might have been beer, to wash it all down.) Lentils are still an inexpensive source of nutrition, and I still make pots of lentil soup, often in the slow cooker or pressure cooker. Best of all, lentils don't need any pre-soaking. I always have a few different kinds in my pantry.

Lentils: like or dislike?

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February 18, 2015

Spaghetti squash boat with clams, zucchini, peppers and olives {gluten-free}

Roasted spaghetti squash boats filled with clams, vegetables and cheese. #glutenfree

Today, despite the umpteenth day of snow, The Perfect Pantry® departs the log house kitchen, where the blog was born and where my e-books and their headless videos came to life, and moves to the city. My husband Ted and I are excited to return full-time to Boston's South End, a multi-ethnic neighborhood where we've lived since 1980. I'm going to take a few days to unpack, organize the kitchen and pantry, and stock up at the wonderful local stores -- Syrian Grocery (olives, spices, pita bread), Formaggio (cheese, bread and more spices), Ming's Market (Asian), Morse Fish, Foodies supermarket (great produce and butcher) -- that are within blocks of our apartment. I also have to figure out where, and how, to take food photographs in the new space. If you're curious, I'll be sharing photos of my new kitchen in the next Tidbits newsletter, so if you're not already subscribed (it's free), click this link to sign up. In the meantime, I want you to keep cooking, so I'm leaving you with a spaghetti squash recipe, one we've made many times over the past few months, and I hope you'll try it this week. If you don't love clams, substitute shrimp or scallops or mussels, and for liquid, use a bottle of clam juice from the supermarket. I'll be back soon with more recipes -- sooner if you come and help me unpack -- and Like or Dislike will be here on Saturday morning as usual.

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February 15, 2015

Salsa verde turkey and brown rice bowl with avocado and cheese {gluten-free}

Salsa verde turkey and brown rice bowl, topped with avocado and cheese, makes a perfect one-dish meal.

When I set out to create a recipe for The Perfect Pantry, I often begin by jotting down ingredients and the quantities of each that I think will bring the dish to life. As I cook, I adjust and fine-tune. When the recipe works, you see it here. When it doesn't, I go back to the drawing board and start again. In the first notes about this salsa verde turkey, I was certain I'd add a can of chopped green chiles. Fortunately -- and here is the important lesson -- I tasted the salsa first. I used a jar of Trader Joe's Hatch Valley Salsa, a hot-hot-hot green chile salsa, and it was plenty hot enough for me. In the recipe, I caution you to taste your green salsa, as there are so many varieties of store-bought salsa that will be great in this recipe. Use a mild tomatillo salsa, or an incendiary one; it doesn't matter, as long as it's green, and you like the taste.

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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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