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For some reason, I seldom make couscous in cold weather, except when I cook a long-simmering tagine, for which couscous is the best possible base. I can't explain why, but I think of couscous more as a summer mix-in. It's quick to prepare (the instant variety, that is) and light, yet provides body to vegetable dishes and salads. In this recipe for couscous with shrimp, avocado, tomato and mint, the couscous fills in the little spaces in between, and it absorbs a bit of the lemon dressing that pulls everything together. It's a perfect picnic main course that you can make several hours ahead, and you can prepare some with shrimp and some without, for your vegan friends. Lemony couscous with shrimp, avocado, tomato and... Read more →

In my next life, I will marry a carpenter. Look at the wonderful shelving in Lili's Minnesota Pantry #74! I have shelf envy. Visit the original post to see more photos of these storage ideas, as well as more cubby holes, and more slots, and more drawers. Then, come back and let us know: do you love Pantry #74 as much as I do? Read more →

My friend Sarah has the greenest thumb of anyone I have ever known. On a small plot of land in the local community garden, she grows a lush variety of flowers, herbs and vegetables. Recently a big bunch of her mint, newly trimmed, found its way to my kitchen -- thank you, thank you -- so much, so fragrant, that I wanted to keep it forever. Well, not forever, but for the summer, and I think I found a way. In the freezer, I found a bag of chopped walnut pieces, intended for baking in cookies. Into the food processor went the large bunch of mint leaves, plus walnuts and a few more things from the pantry. Voila! A mild-tasting, yet garlicky, pesto that's perfect... Read more →

If it's green, I'm grilling it: that's my motto for this summer. After years of grilling asparagus (still my favorite way to cook it), I've moved on to the leafy greens like lettuce and bok choy. There's no stopping me. Proximity to a wonderful Asian grocery store gives me endless access to big bags of baby bok choy, and also makes it easy to keep my pantry stocked with Asian ingredients. Bok choy is a cabbage, which means it has a mild but distinct flavor of its own, and also takes well to strong flavors around it. For this and other sauces, I like to use a new-to-my-pantry ingredient, chili pepper stir-in paste, that I buy in the produce section of my supermarket; you can... Read more →

I'm a total sucker for creative spice storage, and for turquoise kitchens, so you can imagine how excited and inspired I was, way back in February 2008, to peek into Pantry #3 from Rachel, in Baltimore. Visit the original post to see more photos of Pantry #3. More turquoise! More storage solutions! Then, come back and let us know: do you love Pantry #3 as much as I do? Read more →

What does it take to make a really great sandwich? Not much, but the secret to greatness is that each element must be the very best version of itself. For this steak sandwich with spicy harissa-lime sauce, start with good bread, a baguette or ciabatta loaf. Soft, leafy lettuce. Steak, any cut you like, grilled just the way you like it. (I use flank steak, which cooks quickly and slices easily.) And a good slathering of this simple yet spectacular sauce, made with real mayonnaise, which is the key to this sandwich. That's it. That's all you need. Steak sandwich with spicy harissa-lime sauce From the pantry, you'll need: mayonnaise, harissa, lime, fresh black pepper. Serves 4; can be multiplied. Ingredients 1/4 cup mayonnaise 1... Read more →

In the not-wholly-Kosher house where I grew up, shrimp cocktail was forbidden fruit, but when we went out for a "fancy" dinner, somehow it became precious permitted fruit. Go figure. I love shrimp in all of its guises. I always have, and I always will. On the other hand, the cocktail sauce I remember -- often filled with sugar -- isn't something I indulge in as an adult. This kiwi salsa fresca, made with yellow kiwis that I happened to luck into at a local market, adds zing (as much or as little as you like), balanced by sweetness from the fruit itself. Grill the shrimp, or roast them under the broiler. The whole dish, both shrimp and salsa, takes just a few minutes to... Read more →