Sunday, January 22, 2012

If Your Kitchen is Stocked, A Good Meal Is At Your Fingertips

I love to cook.  I love to think about what is in the fridge and on the pantry shelves so I can create a meal.  During the work week when I'm on the subway coming home, my mind travels to my kitchen and I'll  think about the individually wrapped chicken breasts in the freezer that will easily defrost and will grill to perfection with a simple brush of lemon juice and cumin, or the vegetables that may be turning but will still roast to perfection with a drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of salt.  The meal can be as simple yet delicious as a couple of poached eggs perched on a bed of mixed greens with some robust curls of Parmesan.  My trick, which really isn't a trick but more like common sense, is to keep things you like at reach in the fridge/freezer and stocked on the shelves of your pantry or in the kitchen cabinets.  I have learned from my mother, my foodie friends and cookbook authors who I admire that if you keep key staples in your kitchen and in your pantry, a great meal is usually at your fingertips.  
Ideas of pantry staples:
Olive Oil
A variety of vinegars - Balsamic, Rice Wine, Apple Cider, etc
Great grains such as Quinoa, Brown Rice, and Beans (canned and dried)
Spices and herbs - both fresh and dried
Condiments such as honey, agave, different sugars for baking, vanilla extract, vanilla paste and vanilla beans
Flours - whole wheat, all-purpose, a bread or pastry flour

Fridge/ Freezer staples
Broth - chicken and vegetable
A variety of Mustards
Proteins: eggs, chicken breasts, turkey medallion, pork medallions (even a leg of lamb if you have room)

Vegetable Staples
Variety of Potatoes (keep in cool, dry place not in the fridge)
Onions & Shallots