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A note to readers: For the next several months, a bit of medical mischief (new hips! new knees!) will knock me off my feet. To get ready, I've been cooking up a storm, and I have a summer's worth of brand new recipes to share with you. Though I might not be in the kitchen or scouring local markets for new pantry ingredients, and blog posts might not always reach you on their usual days, I'll be here, responding to comments, answering questions, and working on ebooks. (Truth? I'll probably be reading legal thrillers and binge-watching Modern Family, and maybe Mad Men, again.) To make sure you never miss a recipe, use the box at right to sign up for free email updates.

July 9, 2014

Shakshuka: eggs in fiery tomato sauce {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Shakshuka, a Tunisian-Israeli dish of eggs poached in a fiery tomato sauce.

My recipe for this popular Tunisian-Israeli vegetarian dish of eggs poached in a spicy tomato and bell pepper sauce is the second-best shakshuka I've ever tasted. The best, the very best, my husband Ted, cousin Martin and I practically inhaled at breakfast at The Gingerbread in Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica, where Eyal Ben-Menachem, the Israeli chef-owner, works his magic. (I'm sharing the secret to Eyal's recipe in my new e-cookbook, 25 Tomatoes, which comes out next week.) Even though I'm admitting my shakshuka is second-best, it's really pretty great, and I use ingredients you already have in your pantry. The one requirement is heat, in some form: chile peppers (fresh or canned), chile powder, hot smoked paprika. It's up to you, and your heat tolerance. If you're serving shakshuka for breakfast, as is traditional, you might want the sauce mildly spicy; on those breakfast-for-dinner days, kick the heat up by adding more red pepper flakes, a pinch of cayenne, or even a few shakes of hot sauce. The recipe yields enough sauce for six people; make the whole batch, and keep any leftover in your freezer for a super quick worknight supper or weekend brunch. Serve with slices of toasted crusty bread, for mopping up the sauce.

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July 6, 2014

Quick and easy goat cheese, raisin, walnut and arugula flatbread pizza {vegetarian}

Goat cheese, raisin and walnut pizza recipe topped with fresh baby arugula leaves: like a salad, with a crust!

Before you scrunch up your nose at the idea of raisins on a pizza (and I know you might be scrunching at this very moment), consider this: if I'd called this recipe "arugula salad with goat cheese, raisins, and walnuts", you'd be all for it. So why not put the whole thing on top of a piece of toasted flatbread, thick or thin, and warm it up so the cheese gets a bit soft and gooey? To make an easy and exciting pizza, combine any ingredients you'd ordinarily put in a salad bowl on a piece of pita bread, lavash, tortilla, or any of the wonderful variety of flatbreads you find in the supermarket these days. The secret is to add the arugula (you could also use spinach, watercress, or baby kale) after the pizza has cooked, or else it will wilt into a soggy mess. Toss your greens with a light vinaigrette or your favorite salad dressing, and pile them high on the pizza after it comes out of the oven. The contrast between warm pizza and cool arugula will win you over to the whole raisin thing. I promise.

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July 5, 2014

The Pantry Quiz #94

Carnaroli rice.

Multiple Choice

Buongiorno! Thank heaven for Italy, which gives the world carnaroli, the choice of chefs for making super-creamy risotto. Carnaroli is classified as a superfino rice; that's an official designation. What makes a rice superfino, as opposed to semifino or fino? (More than one answer might be correct.)

1. The grains of rice are more long than wide.
2. The grains of rice are longer than 6.4 millimeters.
3. The rice is high in starch.
4. The rice is super fine.

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July 2, 2014

Salmon and peas fried rice

Salmon and pea fried rice, a new July Fourth tradition.

When my husband Ted and I first moved to New England, we kept hearing salmon-and-peas, salmon-and-peas, right around the July 4 holiday (which is a pretty big deal up here -- and was, even before The Boston Pops turned it into a classy sound and light show). Salmon and peas first became an item because the salmon used to run just as fresh peas came up in the garden. Even though salmon is available year-round now, the holiday tradition endures. There's no one set recipe, so you have the luxury of combining the ingredients in any way, from grilled salmon and peas sautéed in butter, to poached salmon with peas and pasta, to soup. Some leftover cold rice in the refrigerator inspired my own take on the tradition (a new tradition, perhaps?), and the fish and peas worked so well in this fried rice that I'm going to add it to my year-round repertoire. I used red onion in the rice photos here, but now that the scallions have matured in my garden, I think I'll substitute those next time, for an additional pop of green. Happy Fourth, everyone.

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June 29, 2014

Asparagus and lemon risotto (pressure cooker or stovetop) {vegetarian, gluten-free}

Asparagus and lemon risotto, made easy in the pressure cooker. #glutenfree

It's almost the end of asparagus season here in Rhode Island, and I'm begging my friends for a few spears here and there, whatever crumbs of the harvest they're willing to toss my way. Every spear is precious when you know it will be ten months until local asparagus returns to the farm stands. I freeze some to use for soup later in the year, but the texture doesn't hold up for a dish like risotto, where the crisp bite of barely-cooked asparagus makes such a perfect contrast to the creamy rice. Two things conspired to create this recipe: the no-longer-dreaded pressure cooker was sitting on the counter, having just been used to cook something else; and the grocery delivery service brought me not the one lemon I'd ordered, but a whole bag of lemons. With a few spears of asparagus in the refrigerator, it was almost too easy. Of course you can make this recipe on the stovetop, too, by following the directions and proportions for this risotto with shrimp and asparagus.

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  • 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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