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~ Tools, Condiments and Seasonings ~
I’ve been thinking about this category for several days and no matter how you look at it, it is subjective. I mean if I cooked a lot of oriental food I’m sure I’d find a WOK an essential tool, but I don’t so we’ll approach this the same as we did the pantry, we’ll try to apply logic and I’ll list ‘my’ essentials and then you can interpret any way necessary for your household and the meals you prepare.
As for essential tools I have many that I consider truly essential! But, in reality we can truly get by with very few.
I consider a good set of cutting boards, a set of great sharp knives, my cast iron skillet, quality stainless steel pans, spoons, spatulas and tongs a necessity. I try to stay away from most plastics as they do wear quicker and tend to harbor bacteria. I’m still using the same stainless steel tools and cookie sheets I spent a small fortune on 20 years ago, so that expenditure has paid off. The cast iron skillet has been passed down through my hubby’s parents and grandparents and it too is still going strong. I did purchase new heavy gauge stainless steel pots and pans about 10 years ago and they look brand new as stainless cleans so well. I also stay away from all non-stick surfaces as they do wear eventually and I just don’t want that in our food. I do change my cutting boards and rubber spatulas every couple of years just to be on the safe side despite always running them through the dishwasher.
As much as I like all my pampered chef toys, they could all be eliminated by using just what I have listed above. Personally I cannot live without my essential Kitchen Aid stand mixer & hand mixer and my Cuisinart mini food chopper. I have a blender, but only use it to make my home made Creamy Tomato Basil soup. I don’t even own an electric can opener. I do love my slow cooker too and my Magnalite stock pots and roaster, but they too could be substituted with other pots and pans.
Now for seasonings, this too is subjective based on the foods you prepare, but honestly if that recipe you cut out of a magazine calls for Herbs de Provence don’t run out and buy it for a one time recipe. It is a combination of herbs you probably already have on hand. It usually contains rosemary, marjoram, basil, bay leaf and thyme. So you can adjust what you have with your own likes. What I consider essential in the spice cabinet around here is kosher salt, sea salt, white & black pepper, celery salt, garlic salt/powder, basil, thyme, oregano, marjoram, parsley, paprika, cinnamon, apple pie spice, pumpkin pie spice, PURE vanilla, maple sugar, orange rind, bourbon extract, rum extract and vanilla powder.
In the pantry I have flour, bread and cake flour, self rising flour, sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, coconut, golden raisins, cornstarch, baking soda and baking powder, rice, barley, split peas, tapioca, white rice, brown rice and various pastas.
In the way of liquid essentials I have Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, honey, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, olive oil, canola oil, balsamic vinegar and several flavored rice wine vinegars.
In the refrigerator I have mayonnaise, ketchup (both homemade when I have the time), mustard (despite my severe life or death allergy everyone else LOVES it), sun dried tomato pesto, Better than Bouillon chicken and beef bases, fresh lemons & limes and chili sauce on a regular basis.
I love this Cuisinart combination food processor and blender from Overstock.com.
This week’s dreams brought to you by King Arthur flour
Yes, you will still find those fabulous recipes she remembers so fondly from family meals, but you’ll also find updated twists on classic trattoria favorites–California-inflected, hearty but not overwhelming, and with the perfect balance of healthfulness and terrific flavor. Wouldn’t you love a faster, lighter take on osso buco (here made with turkey instead of veal), a salad with real substance (like one of cantaloupe, red onion, and walnuts), and fish that gets an Italian makeover by way of lots of fresh veggies and accents such as fennel and grapefruit salsa? And let’s not forget dessert. After all, what’s not to adore about little doughnuts dipped in chocolate sauce?
Ranging from soups and snacks to easy entres and elegant dinner-party fare, Giada’s recipes are perfect for any day of the week. And for the first time, she includes a full section of dishes that the little ones will love making as much as they love eating (like mini chicken meatballs). With something to please everyone at your table, Giada’s Kitchen deliciously demonstrates why Giada De Laurentiis has become America’s best-loved Italian cook.
Italy meets California in Giada De Laurentiis’s collection of 100 new recipes. She focuses on fresh ingredients, simple preparation, and bright flavors. Anyone who wants to indulge in the pleasures of Italian food without feeling weighed down will find inspiration for delicious, hearty yet healthy weekday meals. Giada’s recipes satisfy both our desire to eat with gusto and to feel good about what we eat.
With acclaimed restaurants located across the United States, and a high-profile job as head judge of the hit show Top Chef, Tom Colicchio is one of the best-known chefs and personalities in the culinary world today. His popular chain of ’wichcraft sandwich shops is known for crafting sandwiches with high-quality fresh ingredients prepared to Colicchio’s exacting standards. And since the first ’wichcraft opened in 2003, diners can’t seem to get enough.
Carmine’s Family-Style Cookbook reveals the simple secret of Carmine’s longtime success—hearty, rich Italian food, just right for sharing, and perfect for cooking at home!
Carmine’s Family-Style Cookbook’s perfect Italian recipes include:
–Appetizers, Soups and Salads: from Chicken Wings Scarpariello-Style to Carmine’s Famous Caesar Salad
–Carmine’s Heroes: from classic Cold Italian Hero sandwiches to Italian Cheesesteak Heroes
–Pasta: from Country-style Rigatoni to Pasta Marinara
–Fish and Seafood Main Courses: from Salmon Puttanesca to Shrimp Fra Diavolo
–Meat and Poultry Main Courses: from Porterhouse Steak Contadina to Veal Parmigiana
–Side Dishes: from Spinach with Garlic and Oil to Creamy Polenta
–Carmine’s Desserts: from Chocolate Bread Pudding to the world-famous Titanic Ice Cream Sundae
Carmine’s restaurant packs them in every night in its four bustling locations, including its warm, festive Times Square flagship where over a million people from all across the country come every year to share meatballs, chicken parmigiana, linguini with clam sauce, and fried calamari. Carmine’s flavors are the tastes Americans love to cook and eat at home—fresh garlic, bubbling tomato sauce, and pasta boiled just to the perfect al dente. Try any of the recipes in Carmine’s Family-Style Cookbook and bring home that classic Italian flavor to your family.
Almost Meatless by Joy Manning
Today’s dreams are courtesy of: