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August 5, 2010

Red pepper flakes (Recipe: stir-fried corn and red pepper with ginger and garlic) {vegan, gluten-free}

Stir fried corn and red pepper with ginger

On my spice rack, two pint-size mason jars filled with red pepper flakes sit side by side on a shelf.

One jar contains mild flakes, the other hot. They look identical, so I'm glad I remembered to label the top of the jars!

Red pepper flakes are a staple here in Pizza World (also known as Rhode Island, the most Italian state in the country), where a shaker jar sits on the table of every pizzeria.

In my kitchen, they're a staple, too, thanks to their long shelf life. And while I have many types of hot sauce and chili pastes in the pantry, red pepper flakes contribute heat, and only heat, without adding vinegar and salt where you don't want them.

Continue reading "Red pepper flakes (Recipe: stir-fried corn and red pepper with ginger and garlic) {vegan, gluten-free}" »

July 25, 2010

Japanese seven-spice powder, a Pantry Special (Recipe: chicken yakitori)


You've probably heard of Chinese five-spice powder, a pungent blend of star anise, clove, fennel, cinnamon and Szechuan peppercorns. The Japanese have gone one -- no, two spices -- better, with shichimi togarashi, or Japanese seven-spice powder. Also known as shichi, it's one of the most popular table condiments, trendy in Japan and now gaining popularity in the West, where small bowls of it sit on restaurant tables next to the soy sauce. Used to add both heat and flavor to soup, noodles and rice, Japanese seven-spice combines orange or tangerine peel, black and white sesame seeds, cayenne, ground ginger, Szechuan pepper and nori. Sometimes the blend contains poppy seeds or hemp seeds, but the basic seven spices remain pretty much the same. The bite of citrus with the kick of red pepper, Szechuan pepper and ginger hits the back of your tongue with a bright, full flavor, like a very fresh but much more interesting black pepper.

Continue reading "Japanese seven-spice powder, a Pantry Special (Recipe: chicken yakitori)" »

July 15, 2010

Piment d'Espelette (Recipe: grilled vegetables with piment d'Espelette sauce) {vegetarian, gluten-free}


Hatch has its chile peppers, Gilroy its garlic.

My little town in Rhode Island has no food to call its own, no festival that draws people from all over the world to celebrate its unique cuisine. We do have some pretty good pizza, but nothing that's grown here and only here.

The small town of Espelette in the Basque region of southwest France has its mildly smoky, sultry, absolutely sensational piment d'Espelette, the pepper grown nowhere else on Earth. And they have a festival every year, to celebrate the harvest.

If you can't find piment d'Espelette (unless you live near a very good market, you won't find it, but it's easy to buy online), you can substitute hot paprika, mild New Mexico red chile powder, or a combination of the two with a bit of pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika) mixed in.

Wouldn't it be more fun, though, to travel to Espelette and buy the pepper at its source?

(The festival is in late October, if we're making plans to go.)

Continue reading "Piment d'Espelette (Recipe: grilled vegetables with piment d'Espelette sauce) {vegetarian, gluten-free}" »

June 17, 2010

Paprika (Recipe: roasted chickpeas with garlic, cumin and paprika) {vegan, gluten-free}

Roasted chickpeas

As recently as ten years ago, if you looked on my spice rack you'd have found one paprika, the red-and-white rectangular tin of Hungarian sweet paprika imported from Szeged by way of my local grocery store.

One tin was all I needed. I never did anything with paprika except sprinkle it on pale foods to make them pretty.

You might say paprika was my rouge.

Though my spice rack today holds at least five jars of sweet, hot and smoked paprika, you'll still find one of those red-and-white tins, but now I know what to do with the spice inside.

I actually cook with it.

Continue reading "Paprika (Recipe: roasted chickpeas with garlic, cumin and paprika) {vegan, gluten-free}" »

June 3, 2010

Celery seed (Recipe: chicken salad with mustard sauce and lovage) {gluten-free}

Adapted in part from the archives, updated with a new recipe, photos and links.

Chicken salad with mustard sauce and lovage.

If it weren't for potato salad and pickles, my celery seed would be toast.

All winter, it sits on the spice rack, pushed farther and farther to the rear of the shelf.

In summer, when I'm ready to make pickles and potato salad (Why only in summer? I don't know.), I retrieve the celery seed, dust off the jar, use a few teaspoons here and there, and send it back to its place. Every other year or so, I throw out the mostly-full but decidedly less-zesty spice, buy a new jar, and start the cycle again.

Time to admit that maybe celery seed shouldn't be in The Perfect Pantry? Time to broaden my culinary repertoire?

Time to start drinking Bloody Marys?

Continue reading "Celery seed (Recipe: chicken salad with mustard sauce and lovage) {gluten-free}" »

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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