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September 28, 2010

Black olives (Recipe: warm tomato, basil and mozzarella salad) {vegetarian, gluten-free}


One bit of trivia about black olives:

The black olives you find in cans in every grocery store are Mission olives, a variety first planted by Franciscan missionaries in California, and all of the olives grown today derive from a tree at a Franciscan mission in San Diego. Mission olives, while fully ripe, don't have the sharp flavor of Mediterranean olives, in part because they're cured in lye rather than in salt. However, it's their mild flavor that makes them perfect for salads, pizzas, and any dish where you don't want the strong olive taste to overwhelm other ingredients.

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October 29, 2009

Chinese five-spice powder (Recipe: five-spice applesauce)

A favorite post from 2007, updated with a new recipe, photos and links.

Five-spice applesauce

Can you name:

The five W's? (who, what, where, when, why)

The five senses? (sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste)

The five elements? (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water)

The five flavors? (sour, bitter, sweet, pungent, salty)

The five spices in Chinese five-spice powder?



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July 16, 2009

Artificial sweetener (Recipe: asparagus, nectarine and tomato salad) {vegan}


Some pantry ingredients make life worth living.

Others make life livable.

In the first group: chocolate, balsamic vinegar, parmigiano-reggiano.

In the second group: Fresca, fat-free yogurt, artificial sweetener.

A gourmet ingredient it is not, but in a household of dieters and diabetics, artificial sweetener is our reality.

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July 7, 2009

Ginger root (Recipe: steamed fish in packets)


One horribly hot and humid day last summer, I visited my friend Julia's tiny urban garden.

I didn't go for the copious quantities of iced coffee that we both love, nor for her especially good egg salad, nor even for the effortless conversation we always enjoy.

No, what I really wanted was to dig ginger.

Julia, a chef and restaurant consultant, stores her ginger in the garden during the summer months. She digs it up when she needs a bit for cooking, breaks off a piece, then plants it back in the garden, where it continues to grow.

In the photo above, that's Julia's hand holding a "hand" of ginger, which has sent out new roots. In the front are three "fingers" of new ginger growth, brighter white than the old part, and with new green shoots coming out the top.

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April 19, 2009

Onions (Recipe: salsa and shrimp stuffed avocado) {gluten-free}

Adapted from the archives, with new photos, recipe and links.

Salsa and shrimp stuffed avocado, from The Perfect Pantry.

When I cook, I hear voices.

I hear Jacques Pepin, Diana Kennedy, Ina Garten and Martin Yan, all urging me to try, experiment, enjoy. I hear Julia Child, or Dan Aykroyd channeling Julia, encouraging me to keep going, even if what I'm creating looks like a googly mess.

When I cook Cajun, I hear Justin Wilson. A humorist, storyteller, and talented home cook who spent the first part of his career as a safety engineer inspecting warehouses in South Louisiana, he hosted a cooking show on public television thirty years ago, long before the rest of the country had heard of etoufeé and andouille.

From Justin Wilson I learned about the Cajun trinity, the basic flavorings that start every soup and stew: celery, bell pepper, and onion. What he actually said was SEL-ray, bell PEP-pah, and un-NYUANH, way up in the nasal back of his throat, and whenever I make anything that begins with the trinity, I hear his voice.

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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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