Readers of The Perfect Pantry over the years know that the way to my husband Ted's heart has a lot to do with beef stew. This year I realized that, despite my good intentions, I forgot to make stew ahead of time for today's holiday of love. The pressure cooker -- and a game-changing new-to-me ingredient I found at a local gourmet shop -- came to my rescue. If you plan better than I do, you can make this stew on the stovetop, in the usual way. At the cheese and gourmet shop at the end of my block, I spied a small rack of what might have been test tubes, filled with a murky substance that would have looked at home in a chemistry... 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 →


Generally, I think of myself as a person who has not led a fear-based life. And yet, I spent decades living in fear of pressure cookers (once you see green beans plastered to the kitchen ceiling, you cannot unsee them). So I owe this risotto to my friend Kalyn, who nudged me back into pressure cooking, which turned risotto from nearly an hour of stirring (and upper arm exhaustion) to a quick six minutes at high pressure in my fail-safe electric pressure cooker, making this spinach and kale risotto officially fast food. Sun-dried tomatoes bring a little sweetness to balance the bitter greens, creating a risotto that's both easy and healthy. If you have your own slow-roasted tomatoes in the freezer, use those instead, and... Read more →


Have I told you about my love affair with my electric pressure cooker? I never thought I'd say this, but I can't imagine life without pressure cooking some of my own homemade pantry ingredients: beans, lots of beans, and chicken broth. I make other things, like risotto, soups, and roasts, too. I adapted the recipe for these Pima "baked" beans from a small booklet of Southwest Indian recipes. (The Pima people currently live primarily on two reservations in south and central Arizona.) It almost looked like a traditional New England baked bean recipe, except that it called for corn syrup. Usually I don't keep corn syrup in the house, but I had a bottle left over from Ted's gummy-bear making episode with our grandson a... Read more →


Great for potlucks or picnics, this black bean salad comes with an Asian twist: a sesame-ginger dressing. Make it a few hours ahead, and serve as a side salad with anything from the grill. Read more →


Risotto made with brown rice takes a bit longer to cook, so get your pressure cooker on for this recipe. Asparagus, mushrooms and toasted almonds bring out the flavor of the creamy rice. Read more →