One thing that I’ve found makes cooking regularly a lot easier is having a “stock” selection of certain items close to hand in the kitchen at all times. I’m going to list the ones I always have some of below.
I’m going to start off with dry herbs and spices. If you have these to hand in the kitchen you can almost always make something from the odds and ends in the fridge, what to do with them has come with experience for me but I hope I can prevent some people from having the kitchen disasters I’ve had with my experiments over the years, Citrus stir-fry anyone? that’s how I learnt that tasting as you’re cooking is essential.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand, first up the essential dried herbs and spices in no particular order…
- Table Salt
- Rock Salt
- Black peppercorns
- Cumin Seeds
- Ground Cumin
- Coriander Seeds
- Ground Coriander
- Chilli flakes
- Ground Ginger
- Sesame seeds
- 5 spice
- 7 spice
I keep others as well but these are the ones I use the most.
Next, the bottles…
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (usually a generic brand, I gave up on buying separate Olive Oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil a long time ago, as Olive Oil seems to be only available in the supermarkets from the premier brands so why pay €10+ for 1L Olive Oil when I’m paying a quarter for the Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
- Sesame oil
- Balsamic Vinegar
- White Wine Vinegar
- Red Wine Vinegar
- Dark Soy Sauce
When it comes to Vinegars I just can’t get enough, I’ve listed the essentials above but we have a broad selection of Balsamic vinegars, thick ones, thin ones, mature ones, regional ones I’m estimating about 10 different Balsamics in the press, cause I’m too afraid/embarrassed to count them all
So what about fresh stuff, I’ve listed the ones I try to always have below, it’s not always possible but these are rarely off the sopping list.
And yes feel free to point and laugh because I buy fresh herbs instead of growing them in a pot but truth be told I’ve never managed to keep them alive for terribly long, any gardeners out there fancy sharing some hints and tips I’m all ears.
Other Items I like to keep handy are…
- “Ready for the oven bread rolls” (Fresh bread + selection of oils, vinegars, cheeses and dried meats = ultra quick meal)
- Fresh Pesto
- Italian Tomato Sauce
- A Jar of Pickles or Cornichons
- A few different Cheeses
- Dried meats (Salami, Chorizo, Pancetta, Parma Ham)
Now I know this is a long list but if you are cooking regularly, it won’t be long before you find that you have most of these already, so rather than rush off to the shops and buy them all in one go, build them up as you use them, but once they’re in the collection don’t let them run out