- Food and Cooking
Top 10 cooking ingredients you must have in your kitchen
You’ve got all the main ingredients to make your favourite dish but…you don’t have that essential ingredient which makes or breaks the meal.
Here is a top 10 list of must have kitchen ingredients which you should always have in your kitchen cupboard just in case.
1. Soy sauce / stock cubes
2. Plain flour
Without your trusted bag or container of plain flour, you will struggle to make sauces or thicken stews with the right consistency. I would add wholemeal flour and strong bread flour to this line for added “safety” and to give you that additional flexibility you can depend on when added flair and creativity is needed.
Whether or not you bake bread, it is always useful to have a spare few sachets of dried yeast in your cupboards. With the price of bread these days, now is an ideal time to start making your own.
4. Spice rack
OK – I’m going to cheat a bit here, but this is a list of ideal items you should hold in your spice rack to give you the ability to produce a range of dishes.
1. Oregano – (Herb) Used in Italian cooking such as sauces.
2. Basil – (Herb) Use to make pesto, add strong flavour to pizzas, and sauces.
3. Curry powder – (Spices) Mixture includes cumin, coriander, turmeric, garlic powder and chilli. If you don’t have these ingredients, this is a quick and easy alternative when creating curry sauces, dhal, etc.
4. Chilli flakes – (Spice) Gives a more intense “kick” than conventional black pepper but can be used in place of pepper. Can be used in most dishes to increase the “heat”.
5. Cumin (Ground) – (Spice) A unique and accessible spice, which can be used in dhals and Eastern dishes.
6. Coriander (Ground) – (Spice) Again, used in a variety of dishes and sauces, it is slightly more bitter than cumin. Use slightly more sparingly.
7. Cilantro (Coriander leaf) – (Herb) Used extensively in Mexican cooking to add that authentic flavour. Use in soups, home-made humus (houmous) to add interest.
8. Parsley – (Herb) Easy to grow, this is traditionally used in sauce served with fish. An attractive garnish if slightly brutish (in terms of mouth feel) herb.
9. Turmeric – (Spice) This bright yellow spice has a very delicate, earthy flavour. Use to colour dishes (sauces, curries, rice) to give a distinct colouration.
10. Nutmeg – (Spice) Delicious grated on top of cauliflower, this spice has a light peppery taste and is used in both sweet and savoury recipes. An essential ingredient in bechamel sauce.
5. Mustard (English / French)
Both mustards are useful for sauces (English) and salad dressings (French).
If I had to narrow it down, I would suggest a good olive oil and a vegetable/sunflower oil.
If you do lots of (unlidded / uncovered) frying then you will need to use vegetable or sunflower oil which has a higher burn point than olive oil.
If you steam fry [i.e. cover whilst frying which allows lower temperatures] you can use olive oil. Olive oil is of course also an essential constituent of most dressings.
As with oils, there is a whole host of vinegars you can now buy. Again, to narrow it down I would suggest a basic white wine vinegar and perhaps a fruit-noted vinegar such as cider.
8. Salt & pepper
OK – allow me salt & pepper together. Should go without saying, but salt & pepper are essential “condiments” to have in the kitchen. Without salt & pepper, dishes can seem very bland.
But note health issues with too much salt: Top 10 Chef’s tips (part 2).
Whether you are making bread, deserts, cakes or cookies / biscuits, caster sugar is a high priority.
Stock caster sugar over granulated as it has smaller crystals and is generally more flexible in it’s uses than granulated.
10. Bicarbonate of soda / sodium bicarbonate / baking soda
Again, bicarbonate of soda / sodium bicarbonate / baking soda is used extensively in baking but can be used to add lightness to things such as savour pastries and even pancakes. If you haven’t got self raising flour but you do have plain and bicarbonate of soda, you can substitute.
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