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September 16, 2012

Recipe for slow cooker quinoa with zucchini, mushrooms and chicken sausage

Slow cooker quinoa with zucchini, mushrooms and chicken sausage.

All summer I practiced with my slow cookers, adapting recipes from cookbooks and blogs, modifying some of my own stove top and oven favorites to the low-and-slow cooking style of these wonderful little machines. I knew the day would come when I would give zucchini a try, yet I feared turning it to complete and utter mush with hours of cooking. The solution? Add it at the end, so it stays firm and flavorful. This quinoa with zucchini, mushrooms and chicken sausage, a satisfying one-pot meal, requires just five minutes of prep, and delivers big flavor, with no mush. Practice makes perfect.

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July 12, 2012

Crushed garlic in a jar (Recipe: moqueca a baiana, Brazilian fish stew)

First published in November 2006, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. I learned the original recipe for this Brazilian fish stew from Botucatu Restaurant in Boston, which closed a couple of years ago.


Another scandalous confession: I always have crushed garlic in a jar in my fridge.


I can hear the screams. "What is she doing with that stuff in her pantry???"

Well, right up front, let me say that garlic in a jar is never ever better than fresh minced garlic. Never. Ever.

So why do I always have a jar on hand?

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May 8, 2012

Costa Rican banana nut muffins recipe (with or without chocolate chips)


Cousin Martin, in his frequent travels to Costa Rica, always seeks out locally-produced cookbooks for me. I adapted these muffins from a banana cake recipe in one of his recent finds, The Best Recipes: Costa Rica, published by Ediciones Jadine S.A. in San José. When I made the cake according to the original recipe, I wasn't thrilled with the texture, though the flavor was nicely spiced and not too sweet. After a tweak here and there, and the last-minute addition of a handful of chocolate chips to half of the batter, I'm happy to recommend these muffins to you. The flavor of banana takes center stage, and you'll love the subtle notes of clove and vanilla, too. Eliminate the nuts if they're not your thing, or add more chocolate chips. Serve these muffins with afternoon tea or morning coffee, or sneak one into your child's lunch box.

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April 24, 2012

Recipe for shrimp picadillo {gluten-free}


My husband Ted, Cousin Martin and I visited Cuba for one all-too-short week in 1996, and ever since I've wanted to return. Despite shortages and rationing, we tasted some wonderful food, in places like Havana's famous La Bodeguita del Medio (one of Hemingway's haunts) and in paladares, the private restaurants Cubans are allowed to operate in their homes. Picadillo, a popular filling for tacos or empanadas, traditionally brings together minced meat, onions and tomatoes. Cuban-style picadillo throws raisins, olives and capers into the mix for an irresistible sweet-and-sour tang. In this recipe I've taken those same ingredients and paired them with large, sweet shrimp, served over steamed rice. The resulting dish, fancy enough for company, comes together quickly for a great worknight dinner, too. You can make the sauce ahead and refrigerate; then, reheat, and add the shrimp to cook for a few minutes before you're ready to serve. ¡Buen provecho!

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April 22, 2012

Recipe for brigadeiros (Brazilian chocolate truffles)


My friend Peter, who runs a pousada in Brazil, recently passed through New England on one of those whirlwind, must-see-everyone visits that are always, always, always too short. We had a very small window in which to get together, and I planned to surprise him with brigadeiros, a traditional Brazilian chocolate truffle-like treat. Unfortunately, Peter and I missed each other on this visit, but the urge to make brigadeiros stayed with me. Named for Brigadier Eduardo Gomes, who ran for president of Brazil in 1922, these sweets were made by adoring female supporters, and sold to raise money for his campaign. The brigadier lost, but the chocolatey caramel bonbons endured. I used Ghirardelli sweetened ground chocolate, which more closely resembles the cocoa powder you'd find in Brazil; if you don't have any sweetened cocoa powder, try powdered hot chocolate mix. The chocolate sprinkles are traditional, but I couldn't resist the multi-colored ones. I'm sure the brigadier would have loved them.

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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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