10 March 2009

21 Ingredients That Will Help You Cook Successfully Without A Recipe

No one was born with a Chef’s hat on, and even so we find our way around the kitchen, some better than others. Some cooks would not touch a pan or an ingredient without a cookbook before them, some can recite grandma’s recipes from decades before producing culinary works of art. For others the word ‘cook’ is literally and figuratively a four-letter-word. They view the very act with pure terror.

But really, does cooking have to be that complicated? Can’t it be a sweet, almost effortless dance of fresh ingredients, wonderful herbs and spices, and delightful creations? Well I say YES to all of the above. But what’s the key? It is Simple Ingredients which are easily accessible and always in the pantry. The following is a list of such ingredients. The first seven comes from the Seven-Ingredient-Box from Jesse Ziff Cool, author of ‘Simply Organic: A Cookbook for Sustainable, Seasonable, and Local Ingredients’. The other ingredients are just staples I think should be in every pantry:

1. Olive Oil

2. Acid (vinegar or lemon juice)

3. Salt (I prefer Kosher Salt)

4. Pepper

5. Sugar or Natural Sugar Alternative like Stevia

6. Herbs, either fresh or dried

7. Spices, either fresh or dried

8. Beans-Dried and Canned

9. Tuna

10. Whole Grain (eg. Whole grain pasta, brown rice, oats etc)

11. Cheese

12. Onion/Garlic

13. Some type of bottled meat and fish sauce

14. Tomato Paste (to thicken and add flavor to stews, soups and sauces)

15. Mustard (Great to add to a herb rub for baking meats or adding to a sauce)

16. Flour

17. Canned or Dried Fruits- To add to salads, marinades, smoothies etc.

18. Nuts-Almonds, Walnuts etc.

19. Mayonnaise-For a Quick Tuna or Potato salad or Cole Slaw. Also, with a little lemon juice and fresh herbs it makes a great sauce to accompany grilled or fried fish. If you are concerned about calories, a Creamy Reduced-Fat Dressing is a better pick, for taste purposes, over the plain Low-fat Mayonnaise in my opinion. You could also do half regular mayo and half of the reduced-fat dressing.

20. Chicken Broth

21. Bread Crumbs


Joan Nova

Amen! Though I'd substitute no-fat sour cream or plain yogurt for Mayo. Not a big fan of M.

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