Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Cooking Pantry

For those of us who love to cook or should I say create culinary delights in the kitchen, a well stocked pantry is a must! There are some things that  make me feel lost when cooking if they are not at my fingertips. I hate to say this, but making a roux or gravy is for the birds from scratch as long as this product is on the market.
You just sear the seasoned meat in a little canola oil, remove the meat from the skillet, then add the chopped onion, celery, parsley, a pinch or so of dried thyme and cook vegetables until tender. Then add this roux mix, whisk , then add water. You have to work the lumps out with a whisk and pour over your roast, pork chops or chicken parts and roast in a covered baker. I always add a few bay leaves and roast until desired doneness. Hint:For pork roast I always cook the meat on a low temp like 300 degrees for about two hours or until it looks super tender.

I love to bake and cook with good vanilla. I love Sonoma Syrup Co. Vanilla and Almond Extract. The flavors are so pure and they really shine through in your finished dessert.

I'm also in love with French mustard's and cornichons or gherkins. There is a website called the three pigs that has wonderful mustard's and cornichons. They also have some of the best pate` that I've ever tasted. They provide a list of online shops that you can purchase their products.

Good balsamic vinegar is a must for making salad dressings, marinades, bruschetta with tomatoes, basil, garlic and olive oil. Some love it drizzled over strawberries. I keep Fini balsamic vinegar on my counter top.

Olive oil is a staple for the kitchen. I love all kinds. Sometimes, I buy the fancy, sometimes the store brand. I love the fact that a lot of wineries are selling olive oil in their online wine stores.  Fresh herbs in my kitchen window sill or deck in pots are so convenient. You only use what you need, so they are fresh and free of pesticides.

Good cocoa powder for baking is a must as well as spices for cooking. In addition, I like to keep instant coffee and espresso powder around when I'm cooking or baking with chocolate; it seems to intensify the taste of the chocolate. I also keep Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning in my pantry, along with good sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, ground ginger, chili powder and of course cayenne pepper.

Cream of mushroom soup is frowned upon by many people in the food world, but it provides great flavor and texture to appetizers, soups and casseroles. I keep one or two cans in my pantry.

These are just a few of my must haves in my pantry.Oh, I can't forget wine. I love to have a few bottles of bubbly on hand to celebrate life! I'd love to here of some of the items that you truly must have in your pantry; send me a comment!


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