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June 1, 2014

Sea salt (Recipe: pizza bianca) {vegetarian}

Originally published in August 2006 (you can read the post here), this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos and links. If you live nearby in Rhode Island, you can buy wonderful fresh pizza dough in the refrigerator case of any local supermarket (we do love our pizza). Be sure to let the dough rest at room temperature for a few minutes, to relax the gluten and make it easier to roll out.

Make pizza bianca with storebought pizza dough, or your favorite homemade dough. #pizza

In The Saltmen of Tibet, a stunningly beautiful 1997 Swiss documentary film, director Ulrike Koch follows the incredible physical and spiritual three-month journey undertaken each year by nomadic tribesmen on the Himalayan plateau to harvest salt from the holy lakes of the Changtang region.

For these nomads, sea salt is still the primary currency, just as it was in China and India more than 2,000 years ago.

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January 14, 2014

Bay leaves (Recipe: pasta e fagiole) {vegetarian}

First published in December 2007, this updated ingredient post includes new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. Pasta e fagiole (called "pasta fazool" in some parts of New England) falls happily into the meal-in-a-bowl category. Make it ahead, and freeze it for easy worknight dinners; just add some crusty bread, a light green salad, and a glass of wine.

Pasta e fagiole (bean soup with pasta), from The Perfect Pantry.

In 1988, Richard Wilbur was asked in an interview whether, in his role as the United States' second poet laureate, he had to wear a laurel wreath. ''I wouldn't wear it outdoors because it would fall off when I played tennis,'' he answered, but he said that he might get a wreath made of bay leaves, which is a species of laurel. That way, he added, ''When I bowed my head to say grace, I could also season the soup.''

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May 19, 2013

Cocoa powder (Recipe: cocoa-cumin-allspice rubbed rib-eye steak) {gluten-free}

First published in July 2006, this updated ingredient post features new photos, links, and significant changes to the recipe, just in time for the holiday weekend. Get your grill on!

Get your grill on! Rib-eye steak rubbed with cocoa, cumin and allspice.

Sometimes I uncover an item in my pantry that's a bit of mystery. I know I should have it. In fact, I'm never without it. I just don't know why.

Cocoa powder is the mystery du jour.

What, exactly, is cocoa powder? What makes some of it Dutch-processed? Is natural cocoa powder better, or just different?

Here's what I've learned.

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May 16, 2013

How to use cumin (and five favorite recipes)

Cumin-collage

Would you like to travel around the world? I do it all the time -- in my kitchen. While some ingredients are synonymous with a single cuisine (wasabi, chutney, hoisin sauce), cumin takes center stage in foods from many countries: Mexican bean pots, Indian curries, my favorite Malaysian noodles, and good old American barbecue sauce.

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February 17, 2013

Four favorite ways to use smoked paprika

Four of my favorite recipes that use Spanish smoked paprika (The Perfect Pantry).

How does an ingredient earn its way onto The Perfect Pantry's permanent shelf space? One of two ways: It must be something I use in many recipes, or something indispensable to one treasured recipe I make over and over again. The premise of this blog always has been to encourage you to buy an ingredient called for in one recipe by promising to share more ways to use that ingredient. Have you tried smoked paprika yet?

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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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