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August 31, 2010

Homemade chicken stock (Recipe: smashed potato and leek soup with bacon and thyme)

Smashed potato and leek soup

Every week I make homemade chicken stock in my slow cooker, with the carcass of a rotisserie chicken or a chicken I've roasted at home.

It couldn't be easier: toss what's left of the chicken carcass into a four-quart slow cooker; add one onion, cut in half, skin and all; add one stalk of celery, with the leaves, and one carrot, cut in half; add a bay leaf and half a dozen peppercorns, and water. Set the cooker on high for three hours, or on low for six hours. Walk away, read a book, check your email, take a nap.


Strain the stock into a freezer-safe container, and let it cool to room temperature on the counter top. Then, store for up to one week in the refrigerator or six months in the freezer, and make soup to your heart's content.

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August 17, 2010

Feta cheese (Recipe: pasta salad with feta, basil, olives, fresh and slow-roasted tomatoes) {vegetarian}

Pasta salad with feta, basil, fresh and slow-roasted tomatoes

Something you might not know about Rhode Island:

We make great cheese.

Not good cheese. Great cheese. And not just the provolone and mozzarella and ricotta you'd expect to find in this oh-so-Italian part of the country, although we make those cheeses very well.

We make Mexican queso blanco and queso fresco, and goat cheese, too. And we make the most delicious feta cheese.

It's not Italian, and it's not authentic feta (which can only be made in Greece). So technically our local feta, made by artisan cheese maker Narragansett Creamery and gently brined in sea salt, should be called feta-like. Or, maybe, faux feta.

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July 18, 2010

Ponzu sauce (Recipe: grilled flank steak with ponzu and honey glaze)

Grilled flank steak with ponzu glaze

The first time I bought ponzu sauce was a happy accident.

I pulled down what I thought was a bottle of Japanese soy sauce from a high shelf at the Asian grocery. I tossed it into my shopping cart, and not until I reached the checkout line, with my cart full and my wallet in hand, did I realize I had ponzu instead of soy sauce.

I checked the ingredient list on the bottle. Well, I thought, why not give it a try?

Thus began my love affair with ponzu. Think of it "soy sauce plus", as soy is the main ingredient, but it's the combination of sweet and fruit that makes ponzu sauce a perfect base for building a glaze, or a stir-fry or barbecue sauce.

It's easy to make your own from ingredients you probably already have in the pantry, but it's easier to keep a bottle of store-bought ponzu in the refrigerator.

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June 22, 2010

Bacon, a Pantry Special (Recipe: asparagus, cheese and bacon pizza on a pita)

Asparagus cheese and bacon pizza

In the 12th Century, a small church in England promised a side of bacon to any married man who could swear he had not argued with his wife for a year and a day. A husband who could "bring home the bacon" was highly prized! My husband Ted (also highly prized) loves bacon, and -- true confession -- occasionally I eat bacon, too. Not ham, not proscuitto, not pork chops or any other part of the pig, but I do eat real bacon, the stuff Europeans call streaky bacon, the most ubiquitous bacon sold in the United States. Like many foods, bacon was created as a way to preserve meat in the days before refrigeration. Bacon is cured, brined meat prepared from the belly, back or sides of pork (and from other animals, too, such as duck and wild boar). It's often smoked in large slabs, sometimes with a dry rub. Bacon (especially the fat) lends a smoky, salty flavor to soups and stews. These days, low-sodium and extra-lean versions are easy to find in most supermarkets, and artisanal bacon often shows up at farmers markets.

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June 20, 2010

Capers (Recipe: grilled tuna sandwiches with tartar sauce)

Grilled tuna sandwich with tartar sauce

True confession: I don't love capers all that much.

More than once, the long-stemmed giant caper berries from The Gourmet Outlet, so beautiful on an antipasto platter, have tempted me. More than once, a tin of medium-sized salt-packed capers from France has leapt off the gourmet shop shelf and into my cart.

The fancier the capers, the more I've wanted to love them.

I've tried, really. More than once.

Nevertheless, there's always a jar of capers, from the supermarket or local Italian market, in the door of my refrigerator. Some dishes just need the flavor of capers, and nothing else will do.

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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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