Friday, 21 January 2011

Sometimes you just can't cook without....

There are certain things that I ALWAYS have in my cupboard or fridge and often end up in a lot of my dishes.  I wanted to create a top ten of things that I used quite a lot but it was hard limiting myself to ten!  So here's what I see as must have's:

The top five!!

1) Tinned Tomatoes - whether cherry, chopped or plum I always have to have tinned tomatoes in the cupboard, it suprises me the number of things I actually use tinned tomatoes in - Chorizo and Pancetta Stew, Spaghetti Bolognase, Cod with Tomato and Chorizo sauce, Meatballs with a twist, Lasagna, Soup, Casseroles...I could go on!!

2) Tomato Ketchup - hand in hand with tinned tomatoes, whatever dish I am cooking with them  it usually contains tomato ketchup too.  It's obviously become so popular in cooking that Heinz have started to change the labels to say "your secret ingredient"...and it has been just that for me for a number of years

3) Garlic and Garlic Crusher - I'm combining these two and counting them as one entry.  I've already talked about my love for the garlic crusher and its only recently when i've started to put the remains of the garlic from the crusher into a bottle of olive oil to create garlic infused oil, that i've realised how much garlic i actually use.  You can always take something out of the cupboard or fridge that's a little bit bland like mushrooms, add some garlic and hey bingo already your dish is starting to taste nicer!

4) Worcestershire Sauce - This is great in pasta bake dishes, tomato based dishes and with cheese. If you ask me cheese on toast just isnt the same without a bit of Worcestershire Sauce on top.

5) Dried Parsely - Im sure a lot of chefs would say you should always use fresh herbs, and thats great for people who dont kill the herbs whilst they are growing in a pot! Or for those people who use herbs on a daily basis and they don't rot in the fridge (yes both of these things have happened to me).  Me on the other hand, I dont think there is anything wrong with using dried herbs, yes im sure it does taste a little nicer and it looks prettier but they do the job just the same.  The herb I use most often has to be dried parsley

And the rest.......

6) Balsamic Vinegar - another one of my secret ingredients in my tasty tomato sauce.  Also great in salad dressings

7) Half Fat Creme Fraiche - I use this in all sorts of dishes as a substitue to cream.  The best one I have come across is Tesco's own healthy living half fat creme fraiche.  It's not as sickly as cream but its not as watery as other half fat creme fraiche.  I use it in currys for taking some of the heat out, in stroganoff's and in chicken in creamy cider sauce (the recipe for which is coming up later!)

8) Dijon Mustard - it was only really last year that I started to use Dijon Mustard.  Im not that keen on it in sandwiches but if I use it in my cooking I find that it takes on a whole new flavour (one which doesnt burn the inside of your nostrils!).  I mainly use it in stroganoff's and mustard stuffed chicken but it also makes a mean mustard mash!

9) Onions - I ALWAYS have onions in my fridge in the vegetable drawer, and use them a lot in cooking, from meatballs to soups, paella to a basic tomato sauce

10) Stock cubes - stock cubes are excellent and I have every available stock cube flavour; lamb, beef, chicken, fish, vegetable.  The two I use the most are the beef and chicken stock cubes.  The chicken is great in dishes where you have a white meat like turkey, chicken or pork, and it makes the best leek and potato soup!

And a little sneaky one that I just couldnt resist!

11) Salt - I know, I know its really bad for you! I never used to put salt in any of my cooking until i met my other half who is a salt addict (he salts ready salted crisps!).  Since then i've added salt into my food and although I hate admitting it, it really does make things taste a lot nicer.  I'm not talking about a ton of salt, i'm just talking a pinch of the stuff.

What things are in your cupboard or fridge that you couldnt cook without, and would your top 5 look any different to mine?

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