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December 21, 2010

Recipe for red curry tofu with spinach and mushrooms

Vegan red curry tofu

In Adam's Rib, one of my favorite (albeit dated) movies, married lawyers Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy find themselves with the late-night munchies. They head to the kitchen of their posh apartment, where Kate, in her evening gown, raids the refrigerator and comes up with an armful of leftovers. "How about curry?" she asks, and in a Hollywood second, she's got a beautiful lamb curry on the table. With a little help from ingredients in the pantry, you can whip up a curry in a Hollywood second -- well, in 20 minutes -- and you don't need to be wearing an evening gown or tuxedo to do it. This recipe is moderately hot, so feel free to reduce the amount of curry paste for a milder version. I like medium-hot Thai red curry best, but this recipe will be delicious with any curry paste you have on hand. Look for the Mae Ploy or Amoy brands in an Asian grocery store.

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November 21, 2010

Soy sauce (Recipe: oven-braised beef short ribs)

Oven-braised beef short ribs

One amazing thing to know about soy sauce:

Worldwide, more cooks have soy sauce in their pantries than have tea, coffee, milk or salsa. Soy sauce, so fundamental to Chinese, Japanese and other Asian cuisines, enlivens soups, stews, sauces, and marinades for chicken, fish and tofu. How would you describe the taste of soy sauce, which doesn't taste anything like the soy beans from which it's made? I'd say meaty, salty, mushroom-y (I don't think that's really a word), and umami-rich. There are more than twenty types of soy sauce, and in my pantry I have several, but the ones I use most often are Kikkoman reduced-sodium (sometimes called less sodium) soy sauce, which I buy by the jug at my local Asian market, and Amoy dark soy (enriched with molasses). If you need to avoid hidden gluten, San-J makes a gluten-free organic tamari soy sauce.

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October 28, 2010

Fresh pizza dough (Recipe: Charlotte's sausage bread)

Sausage bread

One convenient thing to know about fresh pizza dough:

Did you know that most supermarkets now sell fresh pizza dough in the dairy case? And that the dough often is made by a local bakery? And that if your market is out of dough, and you call your favorite pizza place and ask nicely, they will almost always sell you a pound or two of pizza dough? With all of that convenience so close at hand, you need not ever make your own again! Okay, I'm kidding, just a bit; there are good reasons to make your own dough (great flavor, add-ins, and gluten-free options), but when time isn't on your side, it's also good to know that you can have pizza, calzones, foccacia, and more, on the table in less than an hour.

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October 3, 2010

Beer (Recipe: turkey mole chili)

Turkey mole chili

One great thing to know about beer:

Even if you don't drink beer (and I don't), there are good reasons to keep it in your pantry. Beer tenderizes marinades, adds a yeasty puff to batters like tempura, and leaves behind a hops/barley/malt flavor in stews after most of the alcohol cooks out, much lighter and less sweet than the residual flavor of wine. If you're lucky and have friends who bring their own six-packs to dinner, leaving the unconsumed bottles behind (out of generosity or forgetfulness), you can use whatever they leave -- regular beer or ale or lager, nonalcoholic beer or "near beer" -- in most recipes, except when you're baking.

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About The Perfect Pantry®

  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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