This is Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)'s Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)'s activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)
A small city kitchen in Boston's South End
Since 2006, food blogging at The Perfect Pantry®, for the first 9 years from my log house kitchen, and now from my city apartment. Publishing e-cookbooks from The Perfect Pantry® kitchen.
Interests: travel, cooking, reading, photography, art (seeing and making), trying to get tomatoes to grow in my herb garden.
Recent Activity
Image
Is mac and cheese, or a grilled rib-eye steak, or a big bowl of chocolate ice cream, your ultimate comfort food? Mine is asparagus soup. Call me crazy, but I could eat asparagus soup -- the greener, the better -- every day during the brief six weeks we get farm-fresh asparagus at the open markets and farmsteads here in New England. A few years ago, I learned that you can freeze asparagus. I never knew that, but it has changed my asparagus buying routine. Now, I try to buy several pounds direct from the farm on the day the asparagus is picked, and freeze it immediately in a zip lock bag with most of the air removed. The texture of frozen fresh asparagus spears is... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at The Perfect Pantry®
Image
From Kathie, in Rhode Island: My favorite quick and easy go to seasoning during grilling season. [Lydia's Notes] Yep, I have Montreal Steak Seasoning on my spice rack, too (I haven't tried the others in Kathie's pantry). In fact, this post reminded me that there's a grilled tofu recipe here on the blog that I've been meaning to update and share with you, so watch for that one soon. According to Wikipedia, Montreal steak spice had its beginnings in Schwartz's deli in Montreal, where a grill man added the spices used in Montreal smoked meat to flavor his meats on the grill. The mix usually contains garlic, coriander, pepper and cayenne pepper, dill, and salt. It imparts a distinctive flavor to any meat you toss... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at The Perfect Pantry®
Image
When it comes to slow cooker cooking, I consider myself a newbie. While my college friends were experimenting with slow cookers in their dorm rooms, I lived on tuna sandwiches. In fact, I bought my first slow cooker less than five years ago. So I've spent more time reading recipes for slow cooker dishes than actually cooking them. Now that I'm more comfortable with my slow cooker (my favorite is the Ninja Cooking System, a six-quart easy-to-clean marvel that's a crock-pot and also can do "stovetop" cooking, which means I can brown meat right in the pot), I'm paying more attention to technique, and this recipe is all about technique. Rice requires special handling in a slow cooker. To start, you need special rice, i.e.,... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Perfect Pantry®
Image
Got leftovers? A little bit of grilled salmon or chicken? Some cooked lentils, or beans or quinoa? Have I got a salad for you! This summery salad takes all comers. A cup of lentils, a cup of peppers, a cup of salmon: the secret to a balanced salad is to give each of the main components equal weight. Salmon keeps the salad light, but if fish isn't your thing, feel free to use grilled or broiled chicken (you'll need just one-quarter of a pound), or to leave out the meat or fish altogether. The salad will keep for two days in the refrigerator, and makes a colorful and easy contribution to a potluck or picnic. Lentil salad with bell peppers, salmon, and maple-mustard dressing {can... Continue reading
Posted Apr 23, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
Image
From Julia, in Cambridge, MA: If you can believe it, Sweet Smoked Spanish Paprika is new to my pantry in the last 10 years. I had always thought of paprika as just a bland spice added primarily for color. A few years ago, while visiting a friend, he served fried okra with a smoked paprika mayo dip -- it was a revelation; especially since the dip consisted of only smoked paprika and mayo. Since then, I've used it in deviled eggs (total game changer) and also Yotam Ottolenghi's Chicken Sofrito (from the cookbook Jerusalem). I'm out of my favorite brand, but have 3 other kinds of smoked paprika in the pantry which I need to go through. [Note: the photo above is mine, and the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 22, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
Image
For a few years, I shared lots of soup recipes on my second blog, called Soup Chick. (Although I stopped publishing recipes there in 2014, you can still access those recipes online.) Many of those soups never found their way here, to The Perfect Pantry, and I pretty much forgot about most of them. One day, Susan, a devoted reader of both blogs, reminded me of all the good slurpiness on the Soup Chick site, and she suggested I bring some of it here to share with you. This chowder, thick and oh-so-spicy, is one of my favorites. The smoky heat comes from chipotle peppers tempered a bit by the cream. If hot and spicy isn't the way you roll, you can cut the amount... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
Image
First published in 2012, this updated collection of great asparagus recipes now includes recipes from the past four years that are more than worthy of a place on any "best of" list. Once upon a time, I had a friend named Mary who ate only the tips of asparagus. I've always been more of a stem gal, so we were the perfect dinner companions. I thought our friendship might last forever, but as things turned out, asparagus preferences weren't enough to keep us together. Just as well, actually, as I've come to love every bit of the asparagus, and now I'd be reluctant to behead all of my spears for the sake of friendship. Asparagus season here in New England lasts for only six or... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
Image
From Clara, in Westford, Massachusetts: The enclosed picture means that I have expanded my cooking repertoire in the last 10 years to include Thai, or at least Thai style or influenced, dishes. [Lydia's Notes] I've expanded my repertoire of Thai-inspired dishes in the past 10 years, too, so coconut milk is a must-have in my pantry. I've also learned that there's so much more to cook with coconut milk, and I've just scratched the surface. In addition to Thai curries (my favorite), coconut milk forms the base for curries of all cuisines, from India to South Africa. It makes great soups, and you can even bake with it. Do you have coconut milk in your pantry? How do you use it? Here are some recipe... Continue reading
Posted Apr 15, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
Image
I know what you're thinking: how can this be barbecue chicken without the drippy brown barbecue sauce? Trust me. This chicken "drips" with all of the sweet, salty, smoky flavors of barbecue, without drowning in sauce, and that makes it perfect for tacos and burritos and quesadillas. Add your own favorite salsa on top, to make this spicy or not. Adapted from my slow cooker barbecue beef brisket recipe, this version, which my grandkids stuffed in burritos, passed the kid-friendly test with flying colors (i.e., they asked for seconds!). I cut down on both sugar and spice, but left all of the things nice: a little hint of adobo sauce from the chipotle, and some chili powder for rich flavor. If you're making this for... Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
Image
Potatoes and artichokes don't often go hand in hand, though you might find them side by side. In a composed salad, like a Salade Nicoise, neat lines of artichoke hearts would nestle up to neat slices of potato, tomato, green beans, hard-cooked eggs, and more. This potato and artichoke salad is the opposite of composed. What would that be -- chaotic, or disorganized, or discombobulated? Whatever you call it, the combination of potatoes and artichokes balances texture with taste. If you prefer, use tart Kalamata olives. The pine nuts keep it Mediterranean, and balsamic vinaigrette brings everything together. If you have fresh basil in your garden this summer, add a few torn leaves to the dish. This salad would be perfect alongside roast or grilled... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
Image
From Connie, in Rhode Island: There's a lovely little olive oil/balsamic vinegar tasting shop, Olive del Mondo, on Hope Street in Providence, diagonally across from Seven Stars Bakery. They have a wonderful selection and a knowledgeable, friendly staff. Here you see Traditional Balsamic Vinegar, with white truffle oil on the left, and Tuscan Herb olive oil. My favorite, my special treat, is front and center: Lavender Balsamic. Heavenly. Especially on sliced fresh strawberries. [Lydia's note] Okay, Connie, you got me. Lavender balsamic?! Until I get a bottle for my own pantry, I can only imagine how amazing this tastes and smells. I love the idea of drizzling it on strawberries. Readers, do you have this in your pantry? How do you use it? Here are... Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
Image
When I travel, I love to buy locally-published cookbooks, the ones you'll never find on Amazon.com. I hold on to those books forever, and look through them often. Flipping through a circa 1992 book I brought home from Malaysia, I found a page torn out of an issue of New York magazine, also circa 1992. On that page were several recipes; I can't tell you which ones appealed to me nearly 25 years ago, because they all look great now. This chicken, baked or cooked on the grill after marinating overnight in Thai-inspired flavors, caught my eye, because grilling season is just around the corner. When I finally got in the kitchen to cook, however, I decided to bake rather than grill, though I did... Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
Image
What goes into a good soup? First, and most important, fearlessness! Open the refrigerator door and look around. Grab some protein (leftover cooked chicken, or sausage or tofu or hamburger meat), last night's vegetables or scraps a heartbeat away from the compost pile, some homemade broth. Root around in the pantry for canned beans, hot peppers, spices. Chop an onion. Toss everything into a pot, let it simmer for a while, and taste. Adjust with more of one ingredient or another. Have faith, because everyone can make great soup. My favorite soups come from countries where the weather is hot, and the food is hotter. In this recipe inspired by dishes I've enjoyed throughout Mexico, black beans, chile peppers, and lime take center stage. If... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
Image
From Ken, in Hawaii: I am trying to duplicate “Jane’s Healthy Kitchen Recipe for Vegan/Paleo Dairy Free Parmesan Cheese" which you freeze into a block and you can then shave or grate like regular Parmesan cheese and have the same taste and texture. The trick is making your own coconut butter as the base from the shredded coconut and the lemon juice, nutritional yeast and vitamin-C gives it the color and that sharp aged taste. I have friends that are Lactose Intolerant, Vegetarians and Vegans so I as a Carnivore am trying to expand my recipe repertoire to be inclusive of my friends' special needs when I cook. [Lydia's notes] I've never cooked with nutritional yeast, so this one's completely new to me. My friends... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
Image
Sweet potatoes can be a tough sell in my house, as I'm the only one who really loves them. (I don't understand...who doesn't crave sweet potato fries with curry sauce, which was a specialty at a few restaurants near our log house in Rhode Island?) However, I don't give up easily, and when I came across a recipe for sweet potato curry, made in the slow cooker, I knew might be a hit with at least one of my resident sweet potato skeptics. I was right. The dish has just enough heat to balance out the sweet. It will keep for two days in the refrigerator, and any leftovers also can be turned into soup with a quick zap from an immersion blender (or potato... Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
Image
Is your house Party Central for your family celebrations, or the place where your friends gather to watch football/basketball/hockey playoffs or cheer on your alma mater in a college bowl? If your house is the place to be, these Tex-Mex turkey meatball sliders should be there, too. They're tasty and easy, and can be made far ahead of when you need them. Everyone loves meatballs, and these sliders are no more than that -- giant meatballs packed with your favorite Tex-Mex seasonings (and with sour cream inside). Even with a little bit of cayenne pepper, these are not spicy. However, they are a little bit messy, as the mashed avocado tends to squirt out with the first bite, so be sure to have plenty of... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
Image
From Mary, in Boston: Since having to switch to a gluten- and dairy-free diet a few years ago, I've added a nut grinder to my pantry. It's indispensable for gluten-free baking with nut flours and for making cashew "parmesan cheese". [Lydia's notes] Do you have a nut (and/or spice) grinder in your pantry? I do, but not a nifty dedicated one like this one. I used to use my food processor for grinding nuts, and an old coffee grinder for pulverizing spices. Now I'm tempted to add a small grinder like this one to my pantry. Do you have a separate grinder for nuts and/or spices? How to make vegan parmesan cheese, from Minimalist Baker Make your own almond flour, from Pastry Pal A guide... Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
Image
Before cauliflower gets any more expensive, it's time to put to the test what I've been saying for years. I will eat anything covered with Thai red curry sauce. Anything? Even cauliflower? Well, as it turns out, no, not cauliflower. (You all know how I feel about it.) I tried, I really did, but despite the wonderous and ever-tempting red curry sauce, I just could not fall in love with cauliflower cooked this way. However, my husband Ted happily polished off the entire pot, so I take that as a testament to its deliciousness. If you're really into cauliflower, replace the broccoli with more cauliflower florets; proportions aren't very important. Serve this curry hot, over brown rice, and top with some torn cilantro leaves for... Continue reading
Posted Mar 22, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
Image
Once you embark upon The Downsizing, you never really finish. A couple of weeks ago, I was combing through the small collection of cookbooks that remain on my shelf, trying to decide whether any should be donated or placed into my Little Free Library. Flipping through a Lebanese cookbook my husband Ted bought for me on one of our many visits to Ottawa, Canada, I came across this recipe. For sfuf. (Not a typo, I promise, although sometimes it's spelled sfouf.) I had to make it. Sfuf, a sweet cake, bright yellow thanks to turmeric, bakes in a casserole dish. It comes out of the oven glistening on the top, dotted with pine nuts, redolent with the aroma of orange. (I replaced the orange blossom... Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
10
Image
From Alyce, in high-altitude Colorado: These weren't even in my pantry a month ago, much less ten years ago, but I saw them at Trader Joe's and they're a keeper! [Lydia's notes] Do you have cryo-pac olives in your pantry? I would stick around to read your replies, but I'm running off to Trader Joe's to track these down for my own pantry. Of course, I keep and cook with lots of olives, but these will last for months without refrigeration as long as the package is not opened. I'm already getting ideas. Are you? How do you use olives in your cooking? Here are some recipes that include olives: Olive tapenade, from The Perfect Pantry Chicken with preserved lemon tagine, from The Perfect Pantry... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
Image
Lentil soup spans all seasons, but it will forever remind me of this time of year. When we lived in the log house, warm winters like this were rare (or maybe nonexistent); in March, along with late-season pruning of the pear trees, we spent plenty of time shoveling snow and breaking up the ice on our driveway and porch roof. After we all got warmed up by hard winter work, we collapsed into the Adirondack chairs on the front porch with a cup of something warm and steamy, like this lentil and caramelized onion soup packed with dark leafy greens. Lentils don't need a presoak, as so many legumes do, and you can't overcook them. If they cook until they fall apart into the stock,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
Image
I hate going to the dentist, so while I'm there, I distract myself by dreaming up recipes. Is there really anything new under the sun when it comes to corned beef and cabbage, I mused, while Christa, my wonderful dental hygienist, cleaned my teeth a few weeks ago. I got the idea for this lighter, less salty corned beef recipe as we talked (well, she talked, and I made those noises you make when your mouth is full of dental stuff). My husband Ted and I both feel this is the most interesting, tender, seductive corned beef and cabbage we've ever eaten. Pickling spice -- not the little bag that comes in the corned beef package; use fresh, robust pickling spice mix -- gives the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
10
Image
From Kathie, in Rhode Island: I used to always make my own, but I now use this 7 spice mix to season my Syrian cooking. [Lydia's notes] Do you have Syrian spice blend in your pantry? I do -- a no-name brand, mixed in-house by my local Middle Eastern market, so the proportions of each spice might be slightly different. Although I don't use it often, I should, because it's a more interesting substitute for plain ground allspice in many recipes with chicken, lamb, or beef. Here are some recipes, including one of my go-to recipes for the grill. If you cook with this ingredient, what's your favorite way to use it? Chicken shish kabob, from The Perfect Pantry Arabic eggplant and walnuts with cauliflower... Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
Image
Cabbage is on sale in this week before St. Patrick's Day, and if, like me, you're trying to get more cabbage into your life, now's the time to stock up and try a few new recipes. The inspiration for this dish came from one of those throwaway supermarket publications that are so easy to ignore, but occasionally have some great ideas. A fairly routine stir-fry with spicy peanut sauce, this recipe replaces noodles with shredded cabbage. So clever! I promise you'll never miss the extra carbs. If nuts are not your thing, substitute your favorite teriyaki or stir-fry sauce for the peanut sauce. Ground turkey offers an option in place of ground beef, and if you don't eat meat, try tofu instead. Stir-fried beef and... Continue reading
Posted Mar 8, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
Image
This winter I've been having lots of fun playing around with salads. Seems incongruous, doesn't it, as we associate salads with summer foods. However, there are plenty of ingredients -- not tomatoes or asparagus, but so many other things -- to mix and match for mid-winter dishes that taste just like August. Nothing about this fennel and avocado salad is seasonal, at least not here in New England, and that's what makes it a great mid-winter treat. I'm partial to dried fruits mixed with crunchy greens, and white balsamic vinegar keeps the colors and flavors bright. Fennel and avocado salad with dried wild blueberries, almonds, and white balsamic vinaigrette {vegan, gluten-free} From the pantry, you'll need: almonds, extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, agave nectar... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®