The Perfect Pantry

My pantry is featured on The Perfect Pantry Blog today. Check it out HERE!

Would you believe that with all that I still have days where I'm befuddled on what to make?

As for cooking this week I revisted some my greatest hits. I've made the cantaloupe soup again. Still awesome.

I also made a Grilled Margherita Pizza from Mario Batali's Italian Grill. I've been grilling pizzas for years and have had success off and on. I really wanted to try his dough and his method. Well I kinda over-charred the pizzas. They weren't terrible but I wasn't a fan of the crust. I think that was my fault as I didn't roll it out thin enough. I am going to try it again. Hopefully I won't jack up the crust an I'll be able to post a picture.

Iced Cantaloupe Soup with Jalapeno and Basil

It's 113 degrees outside. I didn't want to cook. I also didn't want to grill so I stopped at the store and bought the ingredients for this soup and a roast chicken. Iced cantaloupe. What could sound cooler than that?

I was first introduced to cantaloupe soup in Provence several years ago. We were walking through a village and noticed a small packed-with-locals restaurant, with a patio where everyone was devouring this bright orange soup. By that time we had already become familiar with the Cavaillon melon which is the best cantaloupe on the planet end of story. There is even a giant statue of a melon in the town of Cavaillon France.

We were there during the height of the season and ate them for breakfast lunch and dinner and would have smuggled them home if we could.

I've seen them in a grocery store here once and I urge you if you ever see them you must buy one and devour it as soon as possible!!! They look a bit like striped honeydews on the outside. Or even better book a trip to Provence in June.


The french soup was amazing and had a hint of red pepper. I tried to replicate it once but failed. I really needed the French melon.

I was excited when I saw this recipe and it lived up to my expectations. There's even a drink alternative which is to puree the soup as directed, strain, add the lime zest and jalapeno and pour in glasses with a splash of vodka.

My picture is a little dark. The actual soup is a vibrant cantaloupe color.


Iced Cantaloupe Soup with Jalapeno and Basil

makes 2 to 4 servings as a first course -
Adapted from The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift.

One 2 1/2 pound intensely sweet-smelling ripe cantaloupe
2 cups ice cubes
Generous pinch of salt
4 or 5 grinds of black pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
Juice of 2 large limes (about 1/2 cup)
Grated zest of 1/2 large lime

1 or 2 jalapeños, seeded and cut into fine dice
10 to 12 fresh basil leaves, coarse chopped
1/2 medium red onion, cut into 1/8-inch dice (optional)

1. Cut the melon into quarters. Scoop out its seeds and trim away the rind. Slice it into chunks and put them into a food processor. Add the ice, salt, pepper, sugar, and lime juice, and puree. Stir in the grated zest.

2. Place the jalapeños, basil, and onion in separate small serving bowls. Pour the puree into individual soup bowls or into a pitcher for further chilling.

3. To serve, pour the soup into bowls and pass the condiments. The basil and jalapeño are the essential finishes for the soup, while the onion is an attractive option.

Tomatillo-Pepita Gazpacho Mexico

I LOVE Gazpacho! And every time I stumble upon a new recipe I have to try it. It's the perfect summer recipe. Easy, cool and nutritious. It's 109 degrees outside so I'm up for anything that doesn't require me to turn on the stove. Heck the grill is pre-heated before I even light it!

This gazpacho is a bit different as a lot of the veggies are added later instead of being pureed together. I like a chunky gazpacho. The pumpkin seeds give it a nice little crunch too.

The recipe comes from the July 08 issue of Bon Appetit.

Taking pictures of chunky green soup is a challenge. Trust me when I say this is good. I think it makes a better side dish or starter course than a main course though.


Tomatillo-Pepita Gazpacho

Makes 8 servings
* Prep: 35 minutes
* Total: 3 hours 35 minutes (includes chilling time)


* 1/2 cup (generous) unsalted shelled pepitas (about 21/2 ounces)
* 2 pounds tomatillos, husked, rinsed
* 1 large fresh poblano chile
* 1 garlic clove, pressed
* 1 cup vegetable broth
* 1/3 cup chopped green onion
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
* 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 small unpeeled English hothouse cucumber, diced
* 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, diced
* 1 12-ounce container cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered if large

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Finely grind pepitas in processor; leave in processor. Grill tomatillos and poblano chile until tomatillos are slightly charred and soft and chile is charred all over, turning occasionally, 12 to 15 minutes. Add tomatillos to processor. Peel, seed, and coarsely chop chile; add to processor. Add garlic; process soup to coarse puree. Transfer to large bowl. Stir in vegetable broth. Season soup with salt and pepper. Cover; chill until cold, about 3 hours.

Mix in green onion and all remaining ingredients. Divide soup among bowls.

Ingredient Tip: Pepitas are available at many supermarkets and at natural foods stores and Latin markets. Look for tomatillos and poblano chiles (also called pasillas) in the produce section of supermarkets, specialty foods stores, and Latin markets.

Nutritional Information
8 servings
One serving contains the following:
Calories (kcal) 172.11
% Calories from Fat 66.9
Fat (g) 12.79
Saturated Fat (g) 1.84
Cholesterol (mg) 0
Carbohydrates (g) 14.09
Dietary Fiber (g) 4.79
Total Sugars (g) 6.46
Net Carbs (g) 9.30
Protein (g) 2.83

Sesame Brown Rice Salad with Shredded Chicken and Peanuts

This recipe was well reviewed on the Cooking Light Boards and I have to agree it's quite good! Easy and healthy too!

I chose it because I had everything on hand. I didn't use the canola oil because I didn't want to. I just wisked a little sesame oil and lime juice together with the garlic.


Sesame Brown Rice Salad with Shredded Chicken and Peanuts
Cooking Light June 2007

1 cup long-grain brown rice
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts, divided
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 teaspoons canola oil
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Cook rice according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Transfer rice to a large bowl; fluff with a fork. Cool. Add chicken, carrot, onions, 2 tablespoons peanuts, 2 teaspoons cilantro, and salt to rice; toss to combine.

Combine juice and remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Drizzle oil mixture over rice mixture; toss to combine. Place 1 1/2 cups salad on each of 4 plates. Sprinkle each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons remaining peanuts and 1/4 teaspoon remaining cilantro.

4 servings
Nutritional Information

CALORIES 393(30% from fat); FAT 13.3g (sat 2g,mono 6.3g,poly 4g); PROTEIN 27.8g; CHOLESTEROL 60mg; CALCIUM 44mg; SODIUM 424mg; FIBER 4g; IRON 1.7mg; CARBOHYDRATE 40.2g

Chili Beef Skewers and Grilled Watermelon

I love watermelon! And knowing that the skewers would be a little spicy I though it would be a perfect side with a twist.

Bittman has a grilled watermelon recipe in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian only he uses rosemary and lemon juice. I thought mint would compliment the Asian dishes and I had some in the fridge that was looking a little wilty.

Simply cut a slice of watermelon rind intact, seed as well as possible without smashing the flesh, sprinkle with salt and pepper and brush with a mixture of olive oil and fresh mint. Grill over high heat, about 5 minutes on each side and sprinkle with fresh lime juice before serving. The juice carmelizes, almost becoming a syrup and the flavor intensifies. I think you could try a variety of herbs and spices. You could even do mint or basil and feta cheese.

Since watermelons were two for one at Fry's I plan on experimenting.

The skewer recipe is courtesy of uber-chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and appeared in the May 2008 issue of Self magazine. It's very food and not too spicy. You can adjust the Siracha if you want more of a kick.


8 wooden skewers
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp grated orange zest
1 tsp sriracha
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
1 lb lean beef sirloin, cut into 1/8-inch strips
1 each red, green and yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces (optional)
Vegetable oil cooking spray

Dipping sauce
1/2 cup low fat mayonnaise(I used regular because low fat has HFCS)
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp fish sauce

Soak skewers for 30 minutes. Puree cilantro, garlic, soy sauce, orange zest, sriracha, fish sauce and sugar in a food processor. Transfer marinade to a resealable plastic bag; add beef. Seal bag, toss and set aside up to 30 minutes. Combine dipping sauce ingredients in a bowl. Thread 4 pieces of pepper and 2 beef strips on each skewer, alternating beef and peppers. Coat grill rack with cooking spray; heat grill to high; cook until meat is no longer pink, about 3 minutes.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 122 calories (with bell peppers), 3.7 g fat (0.6 g saturated), 14 g carbs, 1.9 g fiber, 9.7 g protein

Hot-and-Sour Soup with Shrimp, Napa Cabbage, and Shiitake Mushrooms-Thailand

This is fantaastic if you're looking for something really light or a soup course as part of a Thai meal.

I'm seeking out lighter fare as I'm filming an infomercial next month and I need to look hot in case Spielberg sees me and decides to make me a star. Or maybe George Clooney will see me and beg to be my sugar daddy.

Anyway this goes together lickity split but tastes like you put a lot more effort into it.


Hot-and-Sour Soup with Shrimp, Napa Cabbage, and Shiitake Mushrooms

Bon Appetit, June 2006

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon Thai red curry paste
3 14-ounce cans low-salt chicken broth
2 kaffir lime leaves or 1 teaspoon finely grated lime peel
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 pound uncooked deveined peeled medium shrimp, halved lengthwise
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, sliced 1/8 inch thick
8 ounces Napa cabbage, cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices (about 4 cups)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
Chopped fresh cilantro
Chopped fresh green onions

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add curry paste and stir until beginning to stick to pan, about 4 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, kaffir lime leaves, and minced ginger. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes. Add shrimp and mushrooms. Cook until shrimp begin to turn pink, about 3 minutes. Add cabbage; cook until beginning to wilt, about 30 seconds. Stir in lime juice. Divide soup among bowls; sprinkle with chopped cilantro and green onions and serve.

Market tip: Using Thai red curry paste is an easy way to add tons of flavor and some heat to your cooking. It is available in the Asian foods section of most supermarkets; at Asian markets, it is known as gaeng pet. Kaffir lime leaves, which come from kaffir lime trees in Southeast Asia and Hawaii, have a floral-citrus aroma. The leaves are sold frozen and are sometimes available fresh at Southeast Asian markets.