I feel like there has been too much talk of fancy cakes and handsome cookies. There hasn’t been enough talk about pantry staples during an apocalyptic event. Okay, maybe I’ve been re-reading a few passages of The Hunger Games (still not enough to make me like goats cheese) but I realized we haven’t sat down over cookies and talked about what your and my kitchen must absolutely be equipped with, apocalyptic event or not. This is an important list (and I have another coming up – The Ultimate Baker’s Cheat Sheet – soon!) and I encourage participation. This is a handy list – something you can browse through while at the supermarket or tape it to your refrigerator. For your convenience, I’ve listed places where you can find them too and linked to a few super cool recipes. Of course, this doesn’t include the regular butter, sugar, eggs, flour. This is the new and improved list. Let’s do this!
1. Frozen berries
Frozen berries are my new thing. I need to have them around in the freezer – any less than a hearty stack and I run back to get some more. Fresh berries are hard to come by but with frozen, they are my go-to. They blend easily into milkshakes and are so good with ice-cream. Try buying a small handful from Santes in Pali Naka. You can also adapt any muffin recipe to accommodate these. Just add them in the frozen state itself. Oh, I’ve also seen them at Nature’s Basket outlets but only seen strawberries and raspberries while Santes has mixed berries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries.
This is no longer a midnight snack, people. I heavily rely on Oreos. They make excellent pie crusts (for when you don’t want to bother with the rolling and crying over split crusts), excellent for garnishing ANYTHING and lining the rim of your favorite milkshake with these just makes it so much cooler. Freeze them and quarter or halve them and add it on top your favorite cupcake – adorable! They’re equally good as cheesecake crust. I recently found Mint Oreos and Ice-cream flavored. Look for them Nature’s Basket outlets and Regal. This year just got a whole lot better, I tell you.
Guacamole, salad dressing or whole pieces dressed with some lime juice, chili powder and salt, avocados have opened up a whole new route on the quick weeknight dinner express. I especially love mashing a ripe one on toast and adding some paprika and sea salt. Apparently they are good for you too – “healthy fats” – who knew? They’re excellent blended with flavored yogurt for a breakfast smoothie.
4. Exotic spices and oil
Za’atar, sumac, spanish paprika, smoked sea salt, truffle oil, garlic oil, sesame oil, chili oil, fleur de sel – my store cupboard is full of them. Because they are insanely expensive here, I tend to bring them back while travelling or ask friends to get them for me. They can spice up eggs or simple cheese toast. There shall never be a boring weeknight dinner again. My current favorite is adding some truffle oil on fried egg and eating that on toast. Gourmetco.in just got a whole new range of flavored oils and its worth having a look at.
5. Greek Yogurt
Yogurt for me was never exciting enough. Sure, I loved to eat plain yogurt with chunks of fresh alphonso mangoes but it was never something I explicitly looked forward to. After making myself countless batches of greek yogurt and fresh fruit sauce, it is now a viable dessert option. Essentially, it is yogurt with the whey drained and you can always use store bought yogurt and drain the whey using a sieve lined with a muslin cloth for a while. You can dress it up with whatever you have in the store cupboard or fruit bowl – it is excellent with some toasted pine nuts, really good olive oil and za’atar. Not to forget, it has a sweeter cousin – frozen berries and a spoonful of honey or caramel sauce. Okay, fine I add chocolate syrup too. Sue me.
This sauce is my salvation. It goes in my coffee, it is sometimes spooned on top of yogurt and fruit and it is always, always drizzled on ice-cream. It is really easy to make but it needs the “good” unsalted butter because salted makes it taste bitter for some reason.
7. Ripe bananas
Freeze em or mash em up to make banana loaf, bananas are pretty much the most accommodating fruit you’ll find. They’re good in milkshakes, perfect for cake, look so good peeking out of a trifle or layered dessert and let’s admit, really good chopped up in cereal. I prefer to buy them slightly unripe so I can decide when to use them. I especially love these frozen with some good chocolate and a splash of milk for a good, never-believed-it-could-be-so-creamy shake.
8. Tomato paste
I don’t need to tell you I love me some tomatoes. Fabulously ripe tomatoes squished with some garlic and chili flakes makes an excellent pasta sauce but till I hadn’t found this baby, my pasta sauce always tasted a bit off. Like it was too mellow. I needed it to make me sing. This paste really helps with the singing. Buy a tube, it lasts a while. You need to use a tablespoon or so per recipe. I also love storing canned tomato tins. I know that tomatoes are available all year but canned are acidic enough to create just the right amount of a certain je ne sais quoi. I bought mine from Nature’s Basket.
9. Coconut milk
Umm, this one has got me out of a jam many times. Apparently, if you leave the can overturned in the refrigerator all night, it is thick enough to make whipped cream. Anyway, coconut milk is always there in the store cupboard along with some thai curry paste. But mostly, it sits pretty till I decide to make khau sway (recipe up this week). It is equally good in a smoothie – imagine frozen raspberries and a splash of coconut milk. I’ve always used Dabur Coconut Milk.
10. Creme Fraiche
Some recipes are life changing. I didn’t realize just how much I needed creme fraiche in my life till I made me some. Now, it goes on everything. I can’t tell you how I know this, but it is especially good with chips and pickles from a jar while watching a Hugh Grant movie.
Since we are talking pantry, I wanted to show you what my current kitchen crush looks like. Pretty no?
To follow all pretty kitchen things, see my Pinterest board here.