In all seriousness, though – what I have learned in my years of cooking is that the simple things (remember, I’m a simple gal!) can make all the difference to your final product ..As well as the quality of the ingredients, of course!
Good cooks and trained chefs know when to use what – and it makes a world of difference.
Now tis fair to say that my Mum was not an adventurous cook. She didn’t like salt (thought it was bad for you) and only got a pepper grinder after I banged on so much about tasteless food she bought 2 and finally realised what we’d all been missing out on.
Shame I was in my 20’s and had left home by this time huh. The pkts of herbs in her pantry could well be of value to a museum, they’re still priced in olden day money. 2p for a packet of mixed spice. Or should I say “no spice”!
Me, I have a half a dozen or so ‘types’ (flavours?) of peppercorns at the ready in my kitchen. I have rock salt, maldon sea salt from UK (my all time fave), kosher salt from USA, plain old iodised salt (don’t want to get gout, now) I even have some garlic smoked salt from the Sth Island lurking in the pantry. I buy my spices in tiny amts or I pick the herbs from my own garden.
And I throw them away if they go ‘flat’ on me. And they do! So be aware of this and don’t hang onto things in your store cupboard just because you have them. Bin ’em when they are no longer good quality. Or better still: use them up before they go naff.
Anyway, recently on here someone asked me what the staples are, things that I simply MUST have in my pantry ~ I’ve put a little thought into it and can’t say it’s any one or 3 things.
Below is a pic of one shelf in my pantry.
These containers stack 3 high and 3 deep from one side of the pantry to the other. And they contain everything I consider “staple” – for example: choc chips, cocoa pdr, cornflour, caster sugar with a vanilla bean in it, icing sugar, brown sugar, muscavado sugar, raw sugar, chick peas, pearl barley, couscous, baking pdr, baking soda, cream of tartar, bread crumbs (dry and fresh), dates, currents, raisins, sultanas, prunes, apricots, all sorts of dried fruits..
My flours, oats and bulkier items are in another cupboard and walnuts, pecans and pine nuts in the freezer.
Going back to my earlier cheeky comment about salt.
It is true the addition of salt to so many things will make it go from “Mm” to “YUMMM“.
Put a pinch of plain salt in your next batch of blueberry muffins. (just sift it into the flour) See what happens ..
Put a pinch of plain salt in your next choc sauce. Trust me! It elevates choc to something sooo amazing.
And always ALWAYS salt your food as you cook it. Don’t just cook it then chuck the salt on top and serve.
Say I’m making pasta:
I salt the onions and garlic as I saute them for the sauce.
Then I salt the meat before I brown it.
Then I salt the veges or cook them in salted water.
Then I salt the sauce as I cook it.
I cook the pasta in salty water.
Then I combine the lot and salt (and pepper, of course) it to taste again.
So I wasn’t really kidding when I said salt is the answer, without it, the food on our plates wouldn’t be anywhere near as yummy as we’d like it to be!