June 13, 2010

Chili paste with garlic (Recipe: spicy Asian grilled chicken and pasta salad)

Asian grilled chicken and pasta salad

My love affair with chili paste with garlic continues, going on thirty years now, with no loss of affection.

It was my first -- first authentic Chinese condiment in the pantry, that is -- and it's still my favorite, the one that makes my heart sing (and, occasionally, burn), the one I can't live without.

My husband Ted, who is not the least bit jealous of this relationship, will tell you that I get twitchy when I pull the last jar off the pantry shelf. I'm happier with a little stash of three or four jars of my favorite Lan Chi brand with their bright-green-and-white labels in Chinese and English.

Nothing, not even chocolate or lemon or Fresca, excites my taste buds in quite the same way.

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May 30, 2010

Salsa (Recipe: mango gazpacho with or without shrimp and avocado)

No post today; instead, a recipe from Soup Chick that would be perfect -- perfect -- for holiday entertaining this weekend. All you really need is salsa and a few ingredients from the pantry.

Mango gazpacho

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May 25, 2010

Unsalted butter (Recipe: chive and parsley butter) {vegetarian}

Asparagus, grilled and topped with chive and parsley butter

Visitors to the 2009 Iowa State Fair saw Michael Jackson's moon walk.

At this summer's fair, they'll see Neil Armstrong's moon walk.

I guess one moon walk sculpted in hundreds of pounds of unsalted butter just wasn't enough for Iowa.

Bakers prefer unsalted butter for its consistency. Salted butters vary in the amount of salt they contain, so by starting with unsalted butter, a baker can determine exactly how much salt to use in a recipe.

I wonder how much salt goes into a butter moon walk.

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May 16, 2010

Wonton skins (Recipe: asparagus wonton wraps with hoisin, wasabi or mustard filling) {vegetarian}

Asparagus wonton wraps: fill them with something sweet or spicy. 

For several years, I've been toying with this idea for a cooking class:

101 Things to Do with Wonton Skins.

In typical compulsive-planner fashion, I've been making lists, taking notes and collecting recipe ideas, but I'm still a bit shy of 101 ways to use this versatile ingredient that's always in my pantry.

Dumplings, potstickers, ravioli, nacho-type chips, samosas, mini eggrolls, soup noodles, empanadas, pierogi, little cups for ice cream, bonbon wrappers, pizza rolls, Napoleons, doll house roof shingles...

Help! When I get to 101 things, I'll put the class on my calendar, so please share the wonderful and creative ways you use wonton skins in your own kitchen.

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May 9, 2010

Salsa (Recipe: chicken, black bean, avocado and cheese quesadillas)

Chicken, black bean, avocado and cheese quesadillas

In the house where I grew up, the cuisine spanned two cultures: eastern European Jewish, and Weight Watchers®.

Neither of those cultures embraced salsa, at least not back in the 1960s, so it was decades before I first tasted the condiment that now might, or might not, be more popular than ketchup.

When tomatoes are in season, I make salsa fresca with fresh tomatoes, onions, jalapeño peppers, lime and salt. For most of the year, though, I also keep jars of several types of store bought (cooked) salsa in my pantry: smoky peach, tomatillo and habanero-lime salsas, from Trader Joe's; medium-hot mango salsa from Costco; mild tomato salsa made by Paul Newman (okay, I know he didn't make it, but I like seeing his face on my pantry shelf, and I can buy his salsa in my local market).

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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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