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August 12, 2012

Chocolate chip spice pound cake recipe, for Julia Child's birthday

Chocolate chip spice pound cake, for Julia Child's birthday, from The Perfect Pantry.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking changed the way the world cooked. A more recent collection of recipes, Julia Child & Company, the companion to her 1978 PBS television series, changed the way I cook. In this book, Julia presented French-inspired recipes for American-style entertaining. From coulibiac to corned beef hash, to a chicken melon ball that nearly defeated my husband Ted and me on a weekend cooking date many years ago, Julia encouraged us to try new menus for all occasions. For this occasion, a celebration of her 100th birthday on August 15, I wanted to bake a cake. Not a fancy French gateau, just a simple cake, and Julia herself came to the rescue with a recipe in JC&Co for a chocolate chip spice pound cake, flavored with mace and vanilla, and made with a combination of white and brown sugars. The first time my friends Bev, Christine and I made this cake, we followed Julia's instructions to the letter. When I made it again, I combined Julia's flavorings with the recipe for Lorna's sour cream cake, and I liked the result even better than the original. Here's my version, an homage to Julia, right down to the plating in my photographs, as you can see on page 212 in the book. Bon anniversaire, Julia. (Be sure to check the PBS Julia Child page for more blogger tributes.)

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July 15, 2012

Recipe for grilled maple-chipotle pineapple rings

There's not a child I know who wouldn't love these grilled maple-chipotle pineapple rings!

When I was in grade school, I commandeered a shelf in our refrigerator for a science experiment involving pineapple and... something else, I can't remember what. The something made the pineapple bubble and ooze up over its dish, and as I recall, that meant the experiment was a success. My mother forgave me, eventually, after making me scrub the inside of the fridge, and for many years I stayed clear of pineapple, but now I love it. (Do you know how to choose a ripe pineapple? First, smell. It should have a strong pineapple aroma. Second, gently tug on one of the inner leaves. It should pull out easily. Third, the fruit should feel heavy for its size.) We're grilling pretty much everything these days, so I glazed ripe pineapple rings with a simple maple-chipotle sauce, and tossed them on my panini press. Sweetness made even sweeter. A scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt would be the perfect topper.

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July 5, 2012

Recipe for cantaloupe and yogurt soup with ginger, lime and mint {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Cantaloupe soup with ginger, lime and mint, so refreshing! #glutenfree

Once upon a time, I bought a honeydew so overripe that, when I cut into it, I discovered more juice and less solid flesh than I'd ever seen in a melon before. The juice tasted like nectar, and I couldn't bear to consign the fruit to the compost pile. It more than made up in flavor what it had lost in texture, so I thought, "Why not soup?" That first bowl, a revelation, led to many others and, eventually, to this cantaloupe and yogurt soup with ginger, lime and spearmint from my garden. If your garden gives you basil, toss a few leaves into the soup, too. Use your favorite melon, or whatever looks best at the market: casaba, crenshaw, canary, orange or yellow or green. Serve it cold, on the hottest days, for breakfast or dessert.

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May 29, 2012

Recipe for melon with lime, peanut and mint topping

Use your favorite ripe melon for this salad with lime, peanut and mint topping.

Cantaloupe, casaba, crenshaw, canary: I adore melon, and not just the orange-fleshed ones. Squirt some fresh lime on chunks of ripe, juicy melon, and I'm in breakfast or dessert heaven. Still, I'm in a shake-it-up mood these days when it comes to old favorites in the kitchen (remember the maple cinnamon matzoh brei). So, inspired by mint coming up in my garden, I decided to try slices of melon with a lime, peanut and mint topping. You'll see fish sauce in the list of ingredients; before you turn up your nose, let me assure you the topping is not fishy. It's just pleasantly, vaguely Thai, and the balance of the tart sauce with the sweet melon will make you wish every Thai restaurant in your neighborhood had this dish on its menu.

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About The Perfect Pantry®

  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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