Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Basic Pantry Ingredients

This website is meant to introduce recipes that use less than 5 ingredients. By that, I actually mean 5 shopping ingredients to complement the basic dry or canned stuff you should already have in your kitchen pantry or cupboard. So, fresh chicken would count as an ingredient, but salt won't. And neither will the following items which I expect you must have in your kitchen pantry ALL the time. Else you really won't get very far at cooking anything!

But don't worry - all I want you to include in your pantry are items which you can get from any little grocery shop or supermarket. Nothing is exotic or hard to find at all.

So, the dry and canned ingredients that should always be in your kitchen pantry are:
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Sugar
  • Olive oil (extra virgin would be best)
  • Flour (not self-raising)
  • Soy sauce (light)
  • Mustard (Dijon is best)
  • Rice
  • Tinned coconut milk (or packets of powdered coconut milk)
  • Balsamico vinegar* (treated as described below)
  • Bottle of sweet sherry
The total cost of all the above is never going to be more than £15! By the way, I recommend olive oil from either Greece or Spain. Not only are they tastier, they are usually cheaper than the Italian olive oils which are often grown in Greece or Spain anyway but then imported and rebranded as Italian. I use olive oil because I like the taste and it is also a monounsaturated oil which is healthier.

* The top balsamico vinegars are slightly sweeter than normal balsamico, so you can "fix" your bottle of balsamico by mixing in a few teaspoons of honey into your bottle and shaking it up. Add one or two teaspoons at a time, drip and shake into the vinegar and taste it. The moment you can taste a hint of sweetness, then stop!

In addition, the following "pop-in" ingredients (mainly vegetables and spices) should also be added to the list, as they are items which are always available for you to pop into your shopping basket whenever you do your food shopping. So actually, there's no real need to get the "pop-in" ingredients unless the recipe requires it.
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Potatoes
  • Ginger
Although you don't always need the above "pop-in" ingredients, what I would suggest for convenience is to buy a small supply each month anyway, and just top up the bits that have been used. They are not at all expensive and will keep easily for 4 weeks or so, if kept in a cool place.

And so now you have your basic equipment, and your basic ingredients. So, let us start with cooking with not more than 5 ingredients!

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