When cooking gourmet, I try to use what I call “The Basics”. It’s a list of items to always have on hand. I keep it simple because you don’t always need everything and the kitchen sink to cook a great meal and it cuts down on meal costs. My ‘pet peeve’ is for a recipe to be called easy or simple and then you have to have a special ingredient like Eye of Newt or Toe of Frog.
If there is a special ingredient that one of my recipes call for, 1. it will be simple; 2. it will be easy to find; and 3. I will tell you exactly where to find it and the cost ahead of time. I can’t express my anger enough for going to a store to look for an ingredient only to find that it costs more than my car! So, with that being said, here are “The Basics” you’ll need to create some gourmet dishes:
Salt – I prefer sea salt because sea salt comes from evaporating sea or salt-water lake water. Regular salt is mined from underground salt deposits. Sea salt tends to have more flavour and lacks the processing part. However, sodium is sodium so choose what suits you best.
Pepper – Whether it’s fresh ground pepper or black pepper that is already ground, pepper adds flavour, period.
Cooking Oil – I prefer Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It contains that Good Fats (monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats). It is also good for my nut-allergy friends and adds some flavour to my cooking as well. Find cooking oil that works for you.
Chilli Powder – Only because I love a good kick! I don’t use a lot and it gives my dishes a flavour, and not necessarily a heat.
Sweet Peppers – These will make a dish pop! They add a sweet flavour to a dish, especially my savoury ones! I usually find a bag of them at Tesco for £1.50 and that bags lasts me for a couple of weeks.
Onion – Oh, the smell of sautéed onions! This adds a lot of flavour at a very cheap price. There are a ton of onion types that can give you different favours. Do some research on these and find the ones that work best for you. Spice it up!
Advice: Again these are only my basics! Spices like garlic, onion powder, lemon pepper, season salt and others are great and cheap to find (usually £0.29 at Lidl). There are times I like to keep it simple for the sake of the dish and people who will be eating it. Again, be creative and experiment!