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Kitchen Queries

Welcome to Kitchen Queries, where the nigella.com team will answer your cooking or food related questions.  We’d love you to submit some of your recipe problems, dilemmas or queries for us to get our teeth into!

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Please note, we are only able to answer questions selected for publication and aren't able to enter into personal correspondence.

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  • Ingredients To Always Have In The Kitchen?

    I would love to have a list of non-perishable foods to always have at hand in the kitchen. There've been so many times that I just couldn't figure out what to do for dinner and couldn't make anything out of what I had! What are some key foods to always have at hand in my pantry that are versatile to make many different meals? For those times where I say, "I have no idea what to make for dinner. Oh, I have this, this, this, this and this in my pantry! I can throw all that together and voila! A last minute meal!" Thank you so much!

    From the nigella team:

    There are several ingredients that Nigella would suggest having on hand. Firstly regular olive oil and garlic infused olive oil for cooking (store close to your cooker for ease). Then extra virgin olive oil and cold pressed rapeseed oil for slads and fresh lemons and a squeezy bottle of lime juice to spritz over dishes after cooking or to make up dressings. Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and fish sauce can be splashed into many dishes to add depth of flavour or saltiness. Dry white vermouth, marsala, sake and mirin all have a good shelf life and can be used to deghlaze a frying pan after cooking meat to make a simple and easy pan sauce.

    Dried thyme, dried crushed chillis (red pepper flakes), ground cumin, sea salt flakes and black pepper are must haves for seasoning and flavoring and liquid stock concentrate or stock cubes (vegetable, chicken and beef) are also always needed.

    In the pantry good quality tinned (canned) tomatoes and dried pasta are staples, and couscous is always useful for a quick Standby Starch (see Kitchen p211) to go with grilled meats, chicken or fish. Nigella also likes to keep sushi rice in the pantry.

    Plain (all-purpose) flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), caster (superfine) sugar and dark muscovado sugar are useful as having them on hand means you always have the basics for a cake or hot dessert if you add a few other ingredients.

    Eggs and butter are usually on hand with a block of Parmesan in the fridge and Nigella keeps bags of frozen seafood on hand as they are useful for fast impropmtu meals, thawing and cooking very quickly. Bacon and bread are also in the freezer and it is a good idea to freee these in handy portion sizes so that they can be pulled out when needed.

    These basics should mean that you are able to whip up a few simple dishes with little notice and make a simple piece of meat or fish into something more satisfying.

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