It's the tweaking time of year here on the blog -- a kind of blog form of Spring cleaning -- so please bear with us as we move some elements around a bit, and test a couple of new things. Everything will settle down in a week or so. Really.

Winter salads can be a challenge, but really, there's so much available as long as you stay away from rock-hard, plastic-looking pinkish tomatoes, overpriced asparagus, and other foods best eaten when they're in season in the summer. This meal-in-a-bowl began as a color study in reds and greens, with a handful of farro thrown in for texture (you could use barley or medium-size couscous instead). Instead of spinach, try kale, or a mix of lettuces and dark leafy greens. Swap dried cranberries for dried cherries, if you wish. This dish filled with fruits and vegetables couldn't be easier, or more satisfying, either as a side salad or a meatless main course. Healthy red and green meal-in-a-bowl salad, with spinach, berries and farro {vegan} From the... Read more →


[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.] Cornstarch is enjoying a resurgence in my pantry these days. Not only is it a great coating for stir-fried foods, but it's also my thickener of choice when I make stews and some sauces. Because it's gluten-free, cornstarch helps me cook for my gluten-free friends. And you can buy cornstarch in every grocery store, everywhere (in other countries, it's called corn flour), which makes it much more convenient than arrowroot,... Read more →


At long last, in the middle of January, snow arrived in Boston. Not a huge amount yet, but more is on the way, and I'm going to make plenty of leftover mashed potato cheese soup to reward the hardy shovelers. Use your favorite mashed potatoes as the base. You could even use mashed garlic sweet potatoes. Loosen them up in a Dutch oven with a bit of vegetable stock or water; add spices; whisk in the yogurt and cheese; let everything melt together. This creamy good potato soup doesn't have any cream in it; Greek yogurt helps enrich the soup. If you don't have any leftover mashed potatoes, boil some diced potatoes until tender (dicing will make the potatoes cook faster), drain, and smash right... Read more →


What can I tell you? This Mexican-inspired green pozole beef stew zigged, and then it zagged, and in the end, it landed perfectly. In the first version I tried to incorporate a couple of cups of blue corn kernels, a gift from my friend Candy in Albuquerque. It turns out I should have pre-cooked the corn to soften it; the kernels remained hard and chewy long after the meat was tender. Hard, chewy, and a very odd blue-ish purple. In the second version, I used canned hominy, whole corn kernels that have been dried, then treated, so they look like little exploded puff balls of corn (you can buy canned hominy in the Spanish foods aisle of any supermarket). Just what this stew needed. And... Read more →


[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'm having a hard time imagining anyone not liking olive oil. It's not the only oil I use, but it's always, always, always in my kitchen. I keep both extra-virgin olive oil, the really good kind, with a more delicate flavor, for finishing salads and making dressing. And I use regular olive oil, the less expensive stuff, for cooking, when the fresh taste of extra virgin oil would be lost... Read more →


Back in November 2006, I first shared this recipe for white fish seasoned with harissa, the fiery pepper paste of North African origin. In need of new photographs, the recipe also benefited from a bit of freshening up. I'd forgotten how easy it is to prepare, and how easily it fits into a low-calorie start to the year. Use any type of fish you like; white fish is typical, but salmon would be fine, too. Don't be afraid of the harissa; I promise that it mellows a bit in the cooking of this fish. Not like Donovan mellow, but mellow enough to leave only an interesting tingle in your mouth. Cut the amount of harissa in half, if you are concerned, but don't omit it... Read more →


What's your go-to recipe, the one you make when you absolutely cannot think of what to cook for dinner, or you can think of something but don't have the ingredients, or you do have the ingredients but don't have the energy? For me, that recipe is most often a Thai curry. Quick and easy Thai curries require only a few key ingredients -- coconut milk and Thai curry paste -- plus some seasonings like lime, sugar, and fish sauce. From there, add a protein and vegetables. That's all you need to do. Because there are so few ingredients, make sure you use the best. I love Mae Ploy or Maesri brand curry pastes; the green, a tub of which always resides in my refrigerator, has... Read more →