Our Kitchen Basics—The Ingredients and Tools
Grains and grain products: brown rice, white basmati rice, arborio rice, wild rice, oats, farro, wheat berries, quinoa, couscous, barley, tortillas, bread, cornmeal, whole-wheat and semolina pasta
Flours: besan (chickpea flour available at Indian markets), masa harina (fine-ground corn flour for tortillas), whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour
Fruits and Vegetables: whole tomatoes (canned or boxed), cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, celery, carrots, onions (and onion cousins, like leeks, shallots and scallions), lettuce, garlic, potatoes, lemons, limes, corn (frozen), dried mushrooms, dried cherries, dried apricots. We always have a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables in our pantry and fridge – the items vary with the seasons.
Legumes: canned beans (black, cannellini, chickpea, pinto, kidney, black-eyed peas), dried beans (same types as canned, plus favas — we love the heirloom varieties from Rancho Gordo), lentils (french green, brown, red, and Indian dals especially yellow mung and toor), frozen peas, frozen edamame
Vinegars: apple cider vinegar, champagne or sherry vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, rice wine vinegar
Oils: extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, walnut oil, toasted sesame oil
Nuts and seeds: walnuts, pecans, pistachios, almonds, pine nuts, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sesame seeds
Dried herbs and spices: sea salt, black peppercorns (in a grinder), oregano, thyme, dill, cumin seed, coriander seed, turmeric, garam masala, sweet and smoked paprikas, cinnamon, chile powder, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, black mustard seeds, fennel seeds. The truth is I have far more spices, but these are a minimum.
Sweeteners: brown sugar, turbinado sugar, granulated sugar, confectioner’s sugar, agave nectar, maple syrup
Dairy products: 1% milk, low-fat plain yogurt, low-fat sour cream, Parmesan, feta, goat cheese, Cheddar, butter, eggs
Miscellaneous: Dijon mustard, capers, roasted peppers, pitted kalamata olives, ginger root, soy sauce, jams, nut butters, baking powder and soda, cornstarch, Better-than-bouillon (low sodium), frozen home-made vegetable stock, dark chocolate, unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla extract
Global Knives — lightweight and easy care in the dishwasher.
Immersion blender — easy clean-up and quick puréeing right in the pot.
Microplane zester/grater — best tool for zesting citrus and grating hard cheeses like Parmesan.
Mortar and pestle — gotta have one for coarse spice grinding.
Bench scraper — get the chopped veggies into the pot instead of landing them across the floor.
Heavy-duty, end-grain cutting board — protects knives from excessive dulling and provides a sturdy cutting surface.
Cast-iron griddle — non-stick wonder for pancakes and more.
Cast-iron, enameled dutch oven — best soup pot a girl can find (use it for stirring up homemade jam and fresh cheese, too).
Coffee grinder reserved exclusively for spices — grind what you need, as you need it. Concoct your own fresh spice blends with ease.
Food processor — biscuit dough, hummus, pesto, smooth soups and sauces — all in short order.
Kitchen-aid stand mixer — a must-have for bread making. Add the pasta attachments for homemade noodles.
Electric ice cream maker — homemade ice cream anytime. Need I say more?
French-press coffee maker — European-style coffee and you can store it away in a drawer.
Electric tea pot — in any tea-centered household, this tool is de rigueur.
Cast-iron grill pan — indoor grilling, on the stove, any weather.
Ceramic pizza stone — a must-have for the crispiest crust. Ours is small enough to store in the cupboard amidst baking sheets.
Electronic scale — we use it nearly every day. The most precise way to measure flour (well, really, practically anything).
Pressure cooker — fast cooking, while retaining healthy nutrients.