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June 4, 2013

Recipe for Jamaican run down (fish stew with tomato, peppers and coconut milk) {gluten-free}

Jamaican run down, a robust fish stew. #glutenfree

Jamaican cooks make magic with fish. Dishes like run down aren't complicated, but they are definitely more than the sum of their parts. (The name originates from the way the fish is cooked until it falls apart, or "runs down.") When big chunks of fresh-caught fish, tomato, peppers, onion, lime juice, and a bit of hot chile pepper, distinctively Caribbean ingredients that you probably have in your pantry, come together in a coconut milk base, you end up with a fish stew that's hearty but not heavy. Here in New England the fishmongers sell cod loin, a thick cut of white fish; if you don't like cod, or can't find the loin cut, use salmon, halibut, red snapper or mackerel, whichever looks best at the market. Serve run down as a main course, with rice (for a gluten-free dish) or some crusty bread to mop the bottom of the bowl. Remember: food that comes from hot climates really does cool you down in the summer.

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March 3, 2013

Recipe for slow cooker turkey, black bean and squash chili {gluten-free}

Slow cooker turkey, black bean and squash chili, from The Perfect Pantry.

Even though I work at home, or maybe because I do, I love the kind of hybrid slow cooker cooking that involves long periods of don't-bother-it gentle heating interspersed with an occasional lifting of the lid, a stir, an addition here and a taste there. Slow cooker manufacturers emphasize in their instruction manuals that lifting the lid even for a moment can extend the cooking time or jeopardize the safety of the cooking process, but it's simply not true. (I'm saying this for Judy, a long-time reader of The Perfect Pantry, who recently purchased her very first slow cooker.) As with all cooking, a stir once every couple of hours helps to even the cooking and distribute seasonings throughout the dish. To make this slow cooker turkey, black bean and squash chili, start the turkey and squash and let them cook undisturbed for several hours. Then, lift that lid, add the beans, stir, and go away. A couple of hours later, add the rice, stir again, and the dish is done. If you're out all day, you can add the beans at the outset and let them cook with the turkey, but if you're home, don't hesitate to lift, add and stir. In fact, I insist on it!

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December 20, 2012

Slow cooker beer-braised beef with kale recipe

Slow cooker beer-braised beef and kale stew, delicious on its own or over pasta.

When I found a couple of bottles of O'Doul's nonalcoholic beer in the far recesses of my refrigerator, along with a partial bag of chopped kale, I searched the pantry and freezer for other ingredients that would bring those two together. This year I've made a real effort to cook with more dark leafy greens, especially kale, and though I didn't love it in January, I can say honestly that I love kale now. For my husband Ted, a true believer when it comes to any variation of beef stew, I decided to put that "near beer" to good use in this braised beef with kale. The slow cooker makes it easy; let the beef cook all day while you're out finishing your holiday shopping, and half an hour before you serve, stir in the kale so it retains some texture without turning to mush. Like all stews, it's even better the second day, and it freezes well, too.

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December 9, 2012

Harissa (Recipe: vegan squash or pumpkin stew with chickpeas and carrots) {gluten-free}

First published in November 2007, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos, links, and a few tweaks to the recipe. Spicy harissa gives this stew a smoky kick; use more or less, to your taste. If you have a tagine, a Moroccan cooking or serving pot with a conical top, serve this in traditional North African style.

Vegan squash (or pumpkin) stew with carrots, chickpeas, and harissa for a kick.

Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.

Ilsa didn't go to Rick's Café Americain for the food. In fact, nobody went to Rick's for the food. Drinking, yes. Smoking, of course. Gambling and trading? You betcha. A rousing chorus of La Marseillaise? Absolutely!

But food? Not a bite, and what a shame, because Rick's, the place to see and be seen in the classic film, Casablanca, surely might have had wonderful food, including couscous and tagines with spicy homemade harissa.

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December 2, 2012

Recipe for slow cooker vegan spicy pinto bean chili with corn and kale {gluten-free}

Spicy pinto bean chili with corn and kale, for Meatless Monday.

If there were a beauty contest for chili, this rather odd-colored spicy pinto bean chili with corn and kale wouldn't make it to the swimsuit round. Don't be fooled by its rather modest looks, however. Hiding in this vegan chili are three -- yes, three -- types of chile pepper (fresh, dried and canned), and a whole six cups of antioxidant-rich kale. If that isn't sexy, I don't know what is! As with all chili, you can spice the recipe up even more, or tone it down, to your own taste. My non-vegan husband absolutely loved this chili, which would be a perfect main dish for Meatless Monday, and I'm confident you will love it, too. Make a pot today, and eat it or freeze it.

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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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