We’ve peeked into the kitchen cupboards of three busy cooks – a mum, a baker and a world cook. Take a look at the hero staples they can’t function without…
Pasta: “It’s quick, comforting and ultimately versatile. Show me a mum that doesn’t rely on pasta for many of her family meals. I keep all shapes and sizes. I use small shapes for speedy kids’ teas, macaroni and penne for pasta bakes and spaghetti for bolognaise or a quick carbonara."
Chicken stock: “Ideally I like to make my own stock from our leftover Sunday roast joint, but I do always keep a few different varieties of stock cubes in the cupboard too. The gel pots are brilliant as well for when I’m cooking in a hurry!”
Tomato ketchup: “Tomato ketchup is such an everyday staple. It’s the perfect marriage with chunky chips, smoky sausages and barbecue foods. If you’ve a glut of tomatoes, it’s really fun to try making your own homemade ketchup too and makes a lovely Christmas or birthday gift. My kids love this cod burger and homemade ketchup recipe.”
Raisins: “I keep raisins and sultanas on hand for snacks for the kids. I use them for baking – try our favourite oat and raisin cookies. Their natural sweetness works well with Indian and Moroccan recipes too. The kids love the fruity couscous in this delicious chicken recipe. I make double so have a portion saved for the next day.”
Marmite: “You either love it or hate it, but Marmite is a definite staple. I use it to add depth to gravies and meat casseroles and sneak spoons into mushroom dishes to added flavour. Or best of all eat Marmite on hot buttered toast. It lasts indefinitely once open too!” The kids’ love cheesy egg with Marmite soldiers recipe.
Tinned tomatoes: “A simple tomato sauce forms the basis of so many brilliant family recipes. I batch cook a large quantity and freeze in tubs ready for fast future meals. After busy days out the whole family adore tucking into homemade meatballs with tomato sauce and as a Friday night treat we save money on takeaways and knock up a fiery chicken and tomato spiced curry.”
Sesame oil “Sesame oil has a distinct nutty flavour and I use it in Chinese and Japanese dishes. It’s great with ginger and soy sauce spicy salmon - Be warned, you only need a little to add flavour. Avoid using it for frying as it burns easily.”
Cumin: “With its distinctly warming flavour and rich, spicy aroma, cumin is a handy essential spice to have at the ready. It’s a key ingredient for many of my favourite Indian dishes and winter soups. I buy whole seeds and dry roast them before grinding them ready for cooking.”
Curry: “Not only are curries quick and easy to make but a great way to use up bits and bobs of spare veg and half bags of rice. From spicy vegetable baltis to the delicate flavours of South India fish curry, your gastronomical journey starts with just a simple curry paste. Paired with a can of coconut milk and you’re just moments from an authentic top class spicy dinner”.
Noodles: “When I’m hungry and need to eat in a hurry, noodles hit the spot. You can knock up a steaming, fresh stir-fry in minutes packing in your five-a-day too. Noodles are great for bulking out vegetable soups too”
Chilli: “An essential ingredient to add heat to basic recipes, crushed chillis can transform bland flavours in seconds. Why not try nachos with homemade chilli tonight?”
Olive oil: “Olive oil is a cook’s essential. Lighter olive oil is good for adding to bread, or to flavour a salad or for a marinade for chicken, meat, fish or vegetables. It can be used for cooking, unlike its darker, richer sister, Extra Virgin olive oil which should never be heated as this destroys the fine properties.”
Flour: “Plain flour is a baker’s best friend and the building block to all sweet and savoury bakes. Cheap and cheerful, I keep a good supply of different flours including plain, self-raising, bread and cake flour. I store them separately in airtight tins. Once open, re-seal and they should last 3-4 months.”
Sugar: “The sweet stuff is another basic baking essential. Stock up on caster sugar for fairy cakes and classic sponges. Dark brown adds deep flavour to banana breads or this raspberry and almond brown sugar cake works as a teatime or after dinner treat. Syrups and treacle are great to have in stock for sticky ginger cakes and the annual Christmas gingerbread house.”
Oil “I like using sunflower oil in my bakes as it’s a tasteless oil and doesn’t over power the ingredients. It’s also handy to use for pan-frying and marinades as it heats to a high temperature. Try these tasty raspberry cakes cooked with sunflower oil – one’s never enough!”
Yeast: “Making your own pizza is quick, easy and with such great results. I always keep dried yeast in my store cupboard ingredient to help with making fast pizza bases. Once opened, dried yeast may become stale so store any remaining contents in an airtight container.”
Pure vanilla extract: “Used for cakes for basic cake mixture, fluffy frosting or fresh creamy custard, vanilla extract is a baker’s secret weapon. Buy the best quality you can afford as a little goes a long way. Vanilla pods add a delicate flavour to lots of dessert recipes and are fantastic infused with hot milk for the basic of custard or ice cream.”
With thanks to Love Food Hate Waste