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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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September 12, 2010

Mayonnaise (Recipe: bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich with turkey and chipotle mayo)

Turkeyblt

One fun fact about mayonnaise:

Technically, it's a stable emulsion, a mixture of two things that don't really want to mix at all -- oil and acid (lemon juice or vinegar) -- with something to keep them together, or emulsify them, once they meet (the lecithin contained in egg yolks). Commercially produced mayonnaise labeled as real must use only egg as the emulsifier, and by law must contain at least 65 percent oil. The salad dressing I like so much has no egg to keep the oil and acid together, but I still love it. Sometimes, though, only the real thing will do, so I always have it in my refrigerator.

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September 2, 2010

Eggs (Recipe: corn, green chile, egg and cheese casserole) {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Corn, green chile, egg and cheese casserole

A fun thing to know about eggs:

Size matters! Extra-large eggs weigh in at 27 ounces per dozen; large eggs, 24 ounces; medium eggs, 21 ounces.

When you're baking, if the recipe calls for large eggs and you only have extra-large, be sure to adjust the number of eggs to end up with the correct volume of egg. In most other cooking, you can substitute one-for-one with any size eggs, without making a noticeable difference in the outcome.

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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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