I've been asked recently about products we have in our pantry and use in our cooking so I thought I would put together a list of spices and 'secret ingredients' that we use to elevate dishes, stews, soups and meals.
We use it when we make our own hummus and I love to make a dressing that I pour over roasted veggies. And not all Tahini's are equal. These are two of our favorites.
Old Bay Seasoning:
It's not just for seafood. You can use it in mashed potatoes, on popcorn, in soups, bloody marys and grits. It's a general purpose seasoning - especially in butter for seafood!
Maldon Sea Salt:
Maldon has come into its own recently as it was on many favorite 2023 gift guides last month. We have been using this delicious finishing salt since we lived in the UK over 15 years ago and are so happy it's gaining love in the USA. It's the perfect finishing salt for eggs, avocados, soups and salads. Once you start using it, it will be an essential ingredient in your kitchen.
Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce:
This has been an essential pantry staple for over 20 years. Open a can, put it in a small grinder/cuisinart and decant into a glass bottle for all your spicy/smokey needs. I use this in any tacos or burritos and mix with my butter for popcorn. The uses are endless and it just might be my desert island luxury.
I usually go through a tub of Gochujang every quarter and it's only me that is using it. How do I use it? I slather it on sandwiches, toast, Korean and Taiwanese pancakes and in my fried rice. Also great in soups and stews. Once opened, you will use a tub faster than you ever thought you could.
Green Curry Paste:
I took two cooking classes 20 years ago to learn how to make Green Thai Curry and Pad Thai. The woman who taught the class was Thai and said we could make our own curry paste or use this store bought one that is just as authentic and tasty. (Plus she said she had been to the factory and said the manufacturing was clean and trustworthy.) And I've been using this ever since.
I've also had Maesri canned soups which was so fulfilling. You can find the range of their products here.
Olives for Drinks:
My aunt introduced me to these olives about seven years ago. They were hard to find and only in specialty, gourmet stores. Once I found them on Amazon, my martinis have remained dirty and spicy!
I'm not a fancy person and many years ago, every time we traveled to France, my husband would shop for the cheapest dijon mustard and bring home bottles of it. We just adore the bog standard dijon - not the kind with the mustard seeds. Just smooth and biting on the palate. We could never have enough. It's perfect for vinaigrette dressings, sandwiches, pastas - what do you not use dijon for? (Remember that shortage we had in 2021?) Stock up now!
Who can only have just one vinegar in their pantry? We must have at least seven! But if I had to settle for just a few - here are the ones I could not live without:
Apple Cider with the mother (for salads and zing), Red Wine (for vinaigrettes), Balsamic (for that special syrupy sweetness), White Vinegar (for my cleaning and laundry - yes I use it in my final rinse instead of fabric softener).
This goes on so many sandwiches, avocados, egg fried rice and soups. It's a seasoning that once you use it, you wonder how you ate without it. I gave some to my mother last year, and from the first bite, she has made sure she keeps extra bottles in her pantry so she never runs out.
These are just some of the highlights of the CLK pantry. I'm sure I will have another edition of our secrets and essentials again soon! Relish on!
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