Once you get the cooking bug you’re going to want to be in the kitchen all the time, making good food that tastes great. As well as the right kitchen equipment and plenty of practice, you’ll need cupboards full of good, basic, non-perishable ingredients and a freezer stocked with a few key ingredients.
Jamie says, “If you buy yourself a nice piece of cod, beef or chicken, you can take it to Spain, Italy, Morocco or China just by using certain herbs or spices from your cupboards. That’s what’s so exciting about cooking.”
There’s nothing substandard about tinned tomatoes, tinned tuna or frozen fruits and vegetables. Things like frozen peas are picked at their best and preserved that way until you use them. Unless you’re picking them from your garden you’ll have to go a long way to get tastier, more nutritious peas than frozen ones.
The list below is a comprehensive guide to the kind of things you might want to stock up on. You don’t have to buy it all, but get what you can, and as you get into cooking and discover the different recipes you like to cook, you’ll learn which basic ingredients you use most often. These things will sit happily in your cupboard or freezer for months, and having them on standby will allow you to do more exciting things with your food.
ESSENTIAL CUPBOARD INGREDIENTS
OILS, VINEGARS AND CONDIMENTS –
Oils: extra virgin olive oil, olive oil, sunflower or vegetable oil, sesame seed oil, groundnut oil
Vinegars: red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar
Condiments: soy sauce, ketchup, Tabasco sauce, HP sauce, mayonnaise, jarred pesto, mustard
HERBS AND SPICES –
Seasoning: Maldon sea salt, black peppercorns Herbs: dried oregano, dried or fresh bay leaves
Spices: dried chillies, whole nutmeg, ground cinnamon, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, chilli powder, five-spice, garam masala, curry powder, smoked
paprika, vanilla beans or extract
DRY GOODS & BAKING
Flours: plain flour, self-raising flour, strong bread flour, wholemeal flour
Sugars: golden caster sugar, brown sugar, icing sugar
Other: cocoa powder, baking powder, dried yeast
Pasta grains and pulses: dried pasta, dried egg noodles, tinned chickpeas, tinned cannellini beans, tinned kidney beans, couscous, basmati rice, brown rice
Tins and jars: curry paste, tinned tomatoes, tinned tuna, tinned coconut milk, olives (stones in), anchovies
Sweet stuff: oats, honey, maple syrup, almonds/hazelnuts or mixed nuts, mixed seeds Other: organic chicken, vegetable and beef stock cubes
BASIC FROZEN STUFF
Vegetables: peas, broad beans, French beans, sweetcorn Pastries: shortcrust, filo, puff
Others: fruits, prawns
© All recipe photgraphy David Loftus and Matt Russell.