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February 19, 2013

Recipe for slow cooker chai-spiced pear sauce {vegan}

Slow cooker chai spiced pear sauce. Top it with ice cream for a fab dessert.

When I was a little girl, my maternal grandparents, the ones who owned a wholesale toy business (lucky me!), lived in a small brick rowhouse in Brooklyn. I loved two things about that house: the garage where my grandfather would park his car, leaving the trunk unlocked so we could paw through the toy samples on our Sunday visits; and the pear tree in the tiny back yard. I'm still partial to the pear sauce my grandmother used to make, with a just hint of cinnamon. Had she owned a slow cooker, I think Grandma might have liked this chai-spiced pear sauce, too. The warm spices (cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and cloves) transform pears, which are often a bit bland unless they are perfectly ripe, into a sophisticated version of the ultimate comfort food. On its own or topped with vanilla ice cream, this pear sauce makes a classy dessert or afterschool snack.

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October 2, 2012

Sake (Recipe: spicy pesto soba with chicken and snow peas)

First published in August 2007, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos, links, and a few tweaks to the recipe. The spicy pesto in this dish calls for equal amounts of basil and mint, and it's a pesto you can use in many different ways, from scrambled eggs to tomato salad.

Spicy pesto soba, from The Perfect Pantry.

Accidents happen.

Blue cheese, vinegar, wine, yogurt, fish sauce, yeast breads, sake.

If modern government-regulated food storage requirements of today had been in place hundreds of years ago, we'd have none of these products, because all are the result of storage mishaps.

Thank goodness for accidents, for food left out of refrigeration too long, left in a barrel for too many months, left out in the sun or in a dark cellar, or carried through the desert in hot saddle bags on a camel's back.

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July 29, 2012

Tomato paste (Recipe: my own meat sauce)

First published in September 2006, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos, links, and a few tweaks to the recipe. Please enjoy some fun facts about cooking with tomato paste, and the recipe for my "house special" meat sauce. In Rhode Island, we call it gravy, and we make it all year round.

My-own-meat-sauce-closeup

My mother, like many "let's have TV dinners" cooks in the 1960s, made spaghetti sauce with Spatini, which I think was mostly a packet of salt mixed with a few flavor enhancers.

I don't blame her. After all, it was the Age of Convenience Foods, and my mother worked and didn't have a lot of time to cook. Her mother never cooked pasta, or made sauce, either, so my mother really didn't have a role model.

My own spaghetti role model was Patty, my freshman-year Italian-American roommate, who taught me to make her grandmother's sauce with canned tomatoes, onions, peppers, oregano and tomato paste. It was the perfect college meal; pasta was cheap, and the ingredients for sauce were cheap, too. And it was so easy to make the real thing.

Bye bye, Spatini.

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May 31, 2012

Recipe for kale pesto, tomato and fontina sandwich {vegetarian}

Kale pesto, tomato and fontina sandwich.

Uh-oh. I'd just planted seven basil plants in my herb garden, when my husband Ted, upon tasting this sandwich, proclaimed, "I like this pesto even better than basil pesto." What's a girl to do? Make an extra batch of kale pesto and stash it in the freezer, of course. Not only is it the flavor punch in this kale pesto, tomato and fontina sandwich, but also you'll love it as a topping for pasta, a filling for lasagne, or a slather for grilled chicken or beef. You'll probably think of 1,001 uses for kale pesto once you try it.

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May 15, 2012

Recipe for pasta with peas and parsley-walnut pesto {vegetarian}

Pasta-with-peas-and-parsley-walnut-pesto

While cleaning out the freezer in The Perfect Pantry recently, I discovered some cooked pasta, half a bag of frozen peas, and a long-forgotten container of pesto made from the last of last summer's parsley (gosh, that's a lot of P in one sentence, isn't it?). In fact, my pantry offered up every ingredient for this dish of pasta with peas and parsley-walnut pesto. If you don't have homemade pesto tucked away in your freezer, use store-bought basil pesto, and you will be very happy. And if you prefer whole wheat or gluten-free pasta, use what you love. Be sure to use good white wine and real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese; when a recipe has just a few ingredients, your happiness depends on using the very best you can afford.

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Welcome to The Perfect Pantry®

  • 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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