Here's a list of 10 pantry items
that should be kept on hand as cooking and baking staples. Culinary
experts all agree that the use of quality ingredients when preparing
foods will always provide better tasting results.
Sea Salt - an additive-free
coarse-grained salt. Used by gourmet cooks and chefs who prefer
its texture and flavor. See "Fascinating
Facts on Salt"
- The worlds' most popular
spice, pepper in one form or other is used around the world to
enhance the flavor of both savory and sweet dishes. Because it
stimulates gastric juices, it delivers a digestive bonus as well.
Whole peppercorns freshly ground with a pepper mill deliver more
flavor than does pre-ground pepper, which loses its flavor fairly
quickly. Whole dried peppercorns can be stored in a cool, dark
place for about a year; ground pepper will keep its flavor for
about 4 months.
Jasmine Rice - The world's best everyday rice. An
aromatic rice from Thailand that has a flavor and fragrance comparable
to the expensive Basmati rice from India, at a fraction of the
cost. A beautiful long grain rice with a distinct aroma similar
Extract - The vanilla
bean was once considered an aphrodisiac, and was so rare that
it was reserved for royalty. Pure vanilla extract is about twice
as expensive as its imitation counterpart, but there's no real
comparison in flavor intensity and quality, and only about half
the amount is needed.
Canola Oil - For everyday cooking. A health conscious
alternative to other vegetable oils because it's been discovered
to be lower in saturated fat (about 6 percent) than any other
oil. This compares to the saturated fat content of peanut oil
(about 18 percent) and palm oil (at an incredibly high 79 percent).
Canola oil contains more cholesterol-balancing monounsaturated
fat than any oil except olive oil. It also has the distinction
of containing Omega-3 fatty acids, the wonder polyunsaturated
fat reputed to not only lower both cholesterol and triglycerides,
but to contribute to brain growth and development as well. The
bland-tasting oil is suitable both for cooking and for salad
Cocoa Powder - The richer,
darker Dutch cocoa has been treated with an alkali, which helps
neutralize cocoa's natural acidity. You will taste the difference
for it produces a richly intense, yet smooth chocolate flavor.
Olive Oil - Adds its
own unique nutty flavor to a variety of foods. The cold-pressed
result of the first pressing of the olives, is only 1 percent
acid. It's considered the finest and fruitiest of the olive oils
and is therefore also the most expensive. Extra virgin olive
oil can range from a crystalline champagne color to greenish-golden
to bright green. In general, the deeper the color, the more intense
the olive flavor. Olive oil should be stored in a cool, dark
place for up to 6 months. It can be refrigerated, in which case
it will last up to a year. Chilled olive oil becomes cloudy and
too thick to pour. However, it will clear and become liquid again
when brought to room temperature.
and Limes - No bottled
or canned substitute can compare. Nothing beats mother nature
Parmesan Cheese - There
are Parmesan cheeses made in Argentina, Australia and the United
States, but none compares with Italy's preeminent Parmigiano-Reggiano,
with its granular texture that melts in the mouth. Pregrated
Parmesan is available but doesn't compare with freshly grated.
Both domestic and imported Parmesans are available in specialty
cheese stores, Italian markets and many supermarkets. Using the
"canned variety" should be compared to substituting
plastic flowers for fresh...which would you prefer to have?
Durum Wheat Semolina Pastas
- As a general rule, imported dried pasta is superior to American
factory-made products, mainly because the imported pasta is only
made with semolina, which doesn't absorb too much water and is
pleasantly firm when cooked al dente (a nice chew to the tooth).
If you ask any Italian, they will tell you it's the pasta, not
the sauce, that is the star of the meal!