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February 4, 2015

Moroccan beef stew/tagine with apricots and onions {gluten-free}

Moroccan beef tagine with apricots, onions, and a hint of cinnamon.

Packing continues for our move to Boston in a couple of weeks, and as I pack my kitchen, I'm downsizing like crazy. This means that every pot, pan, dish, and utensil undergoes scrutiny. Have I used it enough to give it precious shelf space in the tiny kitchen I'll have in the new apartment? My Dutch oven makes the cut, of course, and my favorite tagine pot -- one with a cast iron bottom and a ceramic top that looks like an inverted flower pot, made by my friend Bob -- earns its place, too. As I was about to pack the tagine, I decided to give it one more turn in the log house kitchen, and this beef stew with apricots and onions was the happy result. The combination of meat and dried fruit, so popular in North African and Middle Eastern countries, along with cinnamon, elevates this beef stew with a sweet and sour note that's both unusual and pleasing, giving the stew a brighter flavor. I used organic dried apricots, which have a dark, musky color; for little pops of orange in your tagine, choose regular dried apricots, found in the produce section of your supermarket. Ras-el hanout is a spice blend that contains cumin, along with a dozen other spices, and if you can't find it, cumin makes an acceptable substitute.

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January 21, 2015

Slow cooker shredded beef chili with beans

Slow cooker shredded beef chili, topped with guacamole and lime. Sublime!

On a cold day a few weeks ago, my husband Ted and I had pre-theater dinner with our friends Mary and Mike at our favorite across-the-street-from-the-house restaurant. We shared an appetizer-sized portion of short rib chili, just a few heavenly rich and sweet bites for each of us. When I decided to make my own version, I knew I wanted something a bit leaner; after all, some of the amazingness of the chili came from the fatty short ribs. So, instead, I used my stand-by, brisket. Coffee and cocoa give this chili a deep Mexican mole undertone. A hit of fresh lime juice at the very end is an absolute must, and a blob of guacamole on top makes the dish just about perfect. The chili freezes well, so make the full recipe and you'll be all set for weeknight dinners or that upcoming big football game.

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January 11, 2015

Slow cooker chicken stew with onions, mushrooms, and at least 40 cloves of garlic

The more garlic, the merrier in this crockpot chicken stew.

Cross a traditional French coq au vin, chicken with forty cloves of garlic, and old-fashioned chicken stew, and only good things can happen. And then, add more garlic! This recipe sprung from my husband Ted's craving for chicken stew, a half bottle of unspectacular red wine that needed to be used, and my own wish to toss something into the slow cooker that would make the house smell wonderful all day. Please don't be afraid of the amount of garlic in this recipe; it mellows and sweetens with the long cooking, and is essential to the success of the dish. Serve the stew on its own, or over rice or egg noodles, with a bowl of sliced crusty bread for mopping up every last bit of the sauce. Like all stews, it's wonderful on the day you make it, and even more wonderful the following day.

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September 14, 2014

Slow cooker Caribbean pepper pot {gluten-free}

Caribbean pepper pot, filled with chicken, shrimp, squash and kale.

A few weeks ago, I awoke in the middle of the night, craving Caribbean pepper pot. Can you imagine what I was dreaming about? Adventures on the high seas? Salsa dancing on the beach? Bright colored head scarves and flowing tunics? Johnny Depp? I wish I could remember. Not to worry, though: I remembered the important part: spicy stew, filled with the goodness of the islands, and I absolutely had to make it. In my dream there was shrimp and rice and callaloo, a typical dark leafy green grown throughout the Caribbean. It's not impossible to find callaloo at specialty supermarkets, but I swapped kale, which was perfect. Most pepper pot recipes call for fiery hot habañero peppers in terrifying quantities. I substituted several milder jalapeños, and there was still plenty of kick. Please do not omit the pepper. If you don't like spicy food, make another dish. After all, this one is called pepper pot for a reason. I made enough for Ted, Christine, Rebecca, Shweta and Robby, who had his portion for breakfast, and when they polished it off, I regretted I hadn't made more. May the recipe bring you amazing food-filled dreams.

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August 17, 2014

Seafood stew with tomatoes, peppers, fennel and leeks {gluten-free}

Seafood stew, packed with mussels, clams, scallops and fish.

My friend Beverly, a lifelong Rhode Islander, moved to Denver a couple of weeks ago, leaving behind The Ocean State and its glorious and abundant seafood. For our last dinner on my back porch, I made this seafood stew, filled with all of the good things that come from our coastal waters. The key to the stew is the light broth, which will happily accept almost any type of shellfish or non-oily fish. Best of all, you can make the broth ahead of time, and refrigerate or freeze it. Then, head to the fish market, pick up a selection of seafood, and finish the stew with just a few minutes of cooking. (Remember to ask your fishmonger for some clam "liquor", which most markets will have on hand. The taste is much cleaner than bottled clam juice.) To make the full recipe, the large quantity of seafood will be expensive, so this is a great party or special occasion dish. However, you can freeze the broth in small batches, then make just enough for weeknight dinner with any little bits of fish or shellfish. Serve this dish to people you love, especially if they're moving inland.

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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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