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August 27, 2013

Canned black beans (Recipe: vegan black bean cakes with guacamole)

First published in July 2008, this updated ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe, which I learned from the chef at a restaurant in my Boston neighborhood many years ago. My taste buds have matured a bit since I first tried this recipe in the mid 1990s, so it's possible I now add a wee bit more cayenne pepper than the recipe specifies.

Vegan black bean cakes with guacamole.

A condensed history of canned black beans and me...

Ages 0-14. No black beans. No beans at all. Seriously. My mother never cooked them.

Ages 15-16. Campbell's Vegetarian Baked Beans (not black). During my brief affair with vegetarianism in my high school days, I'd come home from tennis practice, open a can, grab a spoon, and eat those beans cold, right from the can. Loved, loved, loved them. I don't think Campbell's makes them anymore.

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August 11, 2013

Recipe for maple miso glazed radishes {vegan, gluten-free}

Maple miso glazed radishes.

Every year on December 23, the city of Oaxaca, Mexico, celebrates the Night of the Radishes, when the zocalo (central square) comes alive with music and dancing, and sculptures and decorations made entirely of radishes. By the time my husband Ted, Cousin Martin and I arrived in Oaxaca a few days after the festival for New Year's Eve, the radishes were gone, not only from the zocalo, but also, it seemed, from every menu in town. So, instead of sharing a Mexican recipe for radishes, I offer this simple side dish with a maple miso glaze. If you can't find miso at your supermarket (it will be in the refrigerated or produce section), you can buy it in any Asian market. Sweet, salty, easy, and oh-so-red. Serve these radishes hot or cold.

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August 4, 2013

Dried black beans (Recipe: moros y cristianos/Cuban black beans and rice) {vegan, gluten-free}

First published in August 2007, this updated ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. Though it's been many years since I enjoyed moros y cristianos in Cuba, this version of black beans and rice, from one of Havana's most famous restaurants, remains my favorite, and it's perfect for Meatless Monday.

Moros y cristianos (Cuban black beans and rice, with garlic and lime).

Way back when -- we're talking decades ago -- my best friend Joyce had a boyfriend named Tom, who had a series of uninspired jobs to support his dream of hosting a public-radio show about military history.

The jobs, all odd and of fairly short duration, were entirely forgettable. All but one, which involved the packaging of glass stopper-topped jars, presumably for storing chemicals, as the tops were quite tight-fitting. The jars came in a whole range of heights, from just a couple of inches to, well, spaghetti length.

Now you see where this is going.

Of course Joyce and I began to stockpile the jars Tom would bring home (Were they seconds or damaged? We never knew.), and we would fill them with pasta, nuts, peppers, M&Ms, and beans and pulses of every imaginable size and color. No matter that we could spend a lifetime soaking and cooking all of the beans we collected. We were "evolving" (i.e., decorating) our kitchens with beautifully filled glass jars.

Of all the beans, my favorite, then and now, are dried black beans.

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July 28, 2013

Kosher salt (Recipe: Moroccan eggplant salad) {vegan, gluten-free}

First published in May 2007, this updated ingredient post features new photos, link, and tweaks to the recipe. The eggplant salad, taught to me by a neighbor who grew up in Morocco and owned our local dry cleaning shop, is perfect for summer, when both eggplant and tomatoes come straight from the garden.

Moroccan eggplant salad with tomatoes and fresh herbs.

Is kosher salt, the darling of chefs and cookbook authors, just another flaky food fashion?

Is it saltier than table salt, better for health or baking or taste?

Is all kosher salt the same?

Is it even kosher?

Inquiring minds want to know.

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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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