The Essentials

If you want to make interesting variations on your old standbys without constantly running to the grocery store every time you pick up a cookbook, it’s essential to have a well-stocked pantry. If you do, you can be more spontaneous and adventuresome more often. Of course, not everyone has enough cupboard, fridge and freezer space to stock everything I’ve listed here. So you make the call according to your preferences and cooking style. I also encourage you to seek out vendors who specialize in particular ingredients and offer better, fresher and, possibly, more local product than the big chains. Cook global, but buy local as much as possible.

Dry Pantry

  • Active dry yeast
  • All-purpose flour
  • Almonds
  • Anchovies
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Arrowroot
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Beans: cannellini, black beans, lentils, etc.
  • Butter
  • Brandy
  • Candied ginger
  • Capers
  • Chocolate: especially products with 60 to 70 per cent cocoa; I like Valrhona, Callebaut, and Scharffen Berger brands
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Cointreau
  • Cornmeal
  • Dijon mustard
  • Dried apples
  • Dried apricots
  • Dried cherries
  • Dried figs, especially Calimyrna and Mission
  • Dutch-process cocoa powder: I like Valrhona, Scharffen Berger and Bensdorp
  • Espresso powder
  • Flaked coconut
  • Flaxseed
  • Gelatin
  • Graham cracker crumbs
  • Hazelnut oil
  • Hazelnuts
  • Oatmeal
  • Olive oil: extra-virgin, a couple of varieties
  • Olives: niçoise, Arbequina, Picholine, kalamata
  • Pasta: especially martelli, rusticella
  • Pearl barley
  • Pecans
  • Pine nuts
  • Pistachios
  • Prunes
  • Pumpkin: canned unsweetened purée
  • Late-harvest riesling
  • Liquid honey
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Marsala
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Quinoa
  • Raisins, especially Thomson
  • Red wine
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Sea salt: fine and coarse
  • Sugar: white, golden brown and icing (confectioner’s)
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Tomato ketchup
  • Tomatoes: canned plum
  • Italian brands rice: carnaroli and arborio for risotto
  • Vegetable oil
  • Vermouth
  • Wheat bran
  • Wheat germ
  • White vinegar
  • White wine
  • Wild rice
  • Yellow mustard seed

  • Bay leaves
  • Black pepper: especially Tellicherry and Malabar
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Celery seed
  • Cinnamon
  • Ground cumin
  • Nutmeg
  • Saffron threads
  • Smoked paprika
  • Sweet paprika
  • Yellow mustard seed

  • Blue Cheese: Cambozola, Gorgonzola, Stilton, St. Agur or check out your local cheese counter!
  • Cheddar: preferable aged Canadian
  • Chèvre
  • Feta: preferably sheep’s milk
  • Garlic
  • Gingerroot
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • New potatoes
  • Onions: red and white
  • Oranges
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Prosciutto
  • Shallots
  • Yukon Gold potatoes

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