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February 27, 2014

Recipe for Mediterranean beef brisket (pressure cooker, slow cooker or stovetop)

Mediterranean beef brisket, made fast (in the pressure cooker) or slow.

When I was a little girl, I witnessed a pressure cooker explosion in my grandmother's kitchen. I can't remember exactly what it was that ended up on her ceiling, but the impression that experience left on me remains, to this day, one of my kitchen nightmares. In a million years, I never expected to be in close promixity to a pressure cooker again, yet thanks to my friend Kalyn, I not only own an electric pressure cooker, but I'm kind of falling in love with it. The first time I pulled the machine out of the box, I made a batch of black beans, without presoaking, in less than an hour. They were perfect, and my kitchen did not blow up. As I learn more about this machine and how to make it work for me, I'm trying a few more recipes. Some have worked, and some have not, but one I really love (and made several times to get the timing right) is this beef brisket with Provencal-style seasoning. Cook it fast, in the pressure cooker, or cook it slow. Like all brisket, it's better on the second day. Now, tell me: do you use a pressure cooker?

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February 25, 2014

Recipe for roasted chickpea salad with creamy tahini dressing {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Roasted chickpea salad (deconstructed hummus!), from The Perfect Pantry

HERE'S THE THING: I love hummus -- the creamy, garlicky, nutty Middle Eastern spread made with chickpeas and tahini -- but I don't really love chickpeas. It's got to be a texture issue because, well... I love hummus. So, a couple of weeks ago I had the idea to take hummus apart and put it back together, to see if I could combine all of the flavors I love in a dish that would help me love chickpeas, and what I created was this simple salad. Roasting the chickpeas gave them just enough crunch to change the texture but not the flavor, and all the remaining components of hummus went into the dressing. I added some crisp chopped iceberg lettuce, which seemed perfect. You could keep going and pile on more fixings like olives, tomatoes and cucumber, to make a main course salad.

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February 23, 2014

Recipe for breakfast casserole with kale, bacon, mushrooms and onions {gluten-free}

Breakfast casserole with kale, bacon, mushrooms and onions #gluten-free (The Perfect Pantry).

Almost every morning, I bake, scramble, fry or flip eggs for breakfast. So, when I also remember to mix in some antioxidant-rich dark leafy greens like kale or spinach, I want to pat myself on the back. How virtuous! How clever! How easy, with a bag of washed greens stashed in the crisper drawer. It takes only a couple of minutes more to prep an egg casserole and pop it into the oven than it takes to poach or fry a couple of eggs, and the casserole will feed a crowd, or provide a week's worth of breakfasts (or lunches, or light suppers). I can't explain how a little bit of bacon, usually so salty, makes this egg and cheese casserole so sweet, except that it draws sweetness out of the slightly bitter kale. If bacon isn't your thing, or for a similar vegetarian option, try a kale, mushroom and caramelized onion breakfast casserole instead.

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February 22, 2014

The Pantry Quiz #75

Neutral oils, on The Pantry Quiz.

Multiple Choice

When I'm writing recipes these days, I often use the term "neutral oil". In the culinary lingo, "neutral" has a specific meaning. Which of the following is not a neutral oil?

1. Rice bran oil
2. Rapeseed oil
3. Olive oil
4. Vegetable oil

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February 20, 2014

Recipe for mocha sugar cookies

Mocha sugar cookies, puffy and chewy, from The Perfect Pantry.

The forced confinement of a recent snowstorm made me a little bit stir-crazy, but also reminded me that my perfect pantry holds everything I need to soothe my sweets-starved spirit. A quick browse revealed some decaf espresso powder and cocoa powder, and from that starting point -- and my jars of flours and sugars and extracts -- I created these quick and easy sugar cookies. I could have chilled the dough, rolled it flat, and cut it with cookie cutters. Instead, I put my small ice cream scoop (a disher with a quick release) to work, and set the balls of dough on the baking sheet without pressing them down. The result? Mounded cookies that browned gently on the outside while remaining quite chewy on the inside. The light mocha flavor was a perfect match to my afternoon coffee as I watched the snow pile up outside the kitchen window.

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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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