Ingredients to Upgrade Your Kitchen Game
Just a few little tweaks to make your cooking so much better.
- •Pastured eggsCheck out your local farmers market or natural foods store for eggs that are not just organic and free range, but actually pasture-raised. Be warned: a dozen of these delicious beauties can cost up to $8 or $9 per dozen, but the difference in their flavor is remarkable. While pastured eggs are perhaps not a good choice for baking, if you whip up an omelet, scramble or breakfast sandwich using one of these and you’ll taste the difference in their rich, dark orange yolk.
- •Muir Glen Organic Fire-Roasted Tomatoes (Crushed, Diced and Sauce)These are, hands down, the best canned tomatoes money can buy. Stir them into the sauce for a rich stew or Indian dish, or cook them with fresh garlic, extra virgin olive oil, basil, salt and pepper for an impromptu tomato sauce. However you use them, they impart a charred-yet-sweet addition to whatever you’re making, adding layers of flavor in an instant.
- •Kerrygold ButterThis rich, deep-yellow, European-style butter is imported from Ireland, made from 100% grass-fed cows and is literally the best butter money can buy, in my opinion. I don’t use it for baking, but I’ll happily cook eggs in a dab of it, serve it with crusty bread for spreading, or melt it over steamed vegetables. It’s an effortless (and relatively cheap) way to kick a dish up several notches in the decadence department.
- •Good, Cold-Pressed Extra Virgin Olive OilI use the cheapest available extra virgin olive oil for baking/sautéing, but any time I want the flavor of the oil to shine through (in dressings/sauces, for example), I opt for something with good flavor. Two options that won’t break the bank: Trader Joe’s California Estate Extra Virgin (see my TJ's list), $5.99, or Whole Foods 365 brand Extra Virgin Cold-Pressed Italian Olive Oil (in a cylindrical tin), $8.99.
- •Coarse sea salt or kosher saltWe usually think of salt as something that enhances flavors, but it's actually great for texture too. You don't need a salt with grains big enough to adorn a soft pretzel, but something like Maldon or kosher salt are ideal to give food a subtle crunch. Stick with fine salt for baking, though.
- •Fresh spices.If your spices are more than a year or two old, replace them. For the best prices on spices, head to an Indian grocer and buy them from the bulk bins.