I love cooking – over the years it has become my daily therapy. My mind stops thinking about everything else and for those moments, I’m able to focus on the task at hand. With that being said, in order to achieve that zen moment, I have come to rely on my kitchen basics. With these simple ingredients, I can quickly transform whatever I have in the fridge or pantry into something delicious, healthy and satisfying.
1. Maldon Salt:
This natural ﬂakey sea salt will enhance the ﬂavor in any dish. I usually use it as a ﬁnishing salt, sprinkling a little bit over the dish right before I serve.
2. Olive Oil:
I believe in good, ﬂavorful olive oil. Spending a little more on something that I use almost everyday makes a lot of sense to me. And now that I know how delicious it can be, I could never go back to the $7.99 jug at Trader Joe’s. I recommend Cookbook in Echo Park and Silverlake Cheese Store for a variety of ﬂavorful, quality olive oils.
I always have lemons in the kitchen. Whether it be my glass of lemon water in the morning or a quick lemon vinaigrette, they are versatile, have a good shelf life and can brighten up a dish with a little bit of acid.
4. Black Peppercorns:
No pre-cracked pepper. Buy peppercorns and grind them as needed. A simple way to add ﬂavor.
Each week, I get a variety of herbs from the farmers market – basil, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, thyme. Use fresh herbs in a morning omelet, green juice, homemade pesto or stuffed in a roast chicken.
Slice it, dice it, crush it, roast it. Garlic does it all and is a must for me in the kitchen. For a simple appetizer, roast whole garlic cloves and use the soft garlic as a thin spread on a toasted baguette. Finish with a sprinkle of Maldon salt.
7. Onions and shallots:
Like garlic, onions and shallots are an essential aromatic in any kitchen. Caramelized, roasted, sauteed, even raw – they are delicious.
8. Homemade Chicken Stock:
I ﬁnd it very helpful to make batches of chicken stock and freeze them. It can be used for so many things, from soup to risotto to curry. If you donʼt want to spend the time making the stock, you can always buy organic chicken stock at the market.
9. Red Chili Flakes:
Spice it up by sprinkling in breakfast quesadillas or sauteed into kale, chicken and rice dinners. I love adding a little heat.
10. Canned Tomatoes:
I make a lot of Italian food so this one is a must. I buy Carmella San Marzano Tomatoes imported from Italy. Make sure to read the labels as some San Marzano brands are not from Italy. I have found that the imported tomatoes have a sweeter ﬂavor.
Enjoy your kitchen therapy and keep your pantry stocked.