It doesn’t matter whether you are a parent whose only foray into the cooking world is when you are cooking dinner for your children, or are an enthusiastic and experienced cook, every kitchen should have an all-important spice rack. Arguably the most underrated staple ingredients, herbs and spices play a huge role in elevating any dish, and you will not see a professional kitchen functioning without a pantry full of them.
So just why are herbs and spices so important, and why should every cupboard have a basic supply? The answer is simple, herbs and spices flavour almost every dish, whether that’s the £1 ready meal from the supermarket or the ten-course tasting menu at a Michelin star restaurant. As mentioned by Chef Will Made It, flavour is one of the most important selling points of a dish, and without this, you can often be left feeling underwhelmed by the dish. As well as adding all-important flavour to your food, they add colour, fragrance and variety, all while having their own set of health benefits.
There is no limit to how many different herbs and spices you should have in your cupboard, and the amount and type you use will often depend on the types of cuisine you enjoy, but there are, of course, several herbs and spices you should always have available.
1. Garlic Powder
Garlic is present everywhere. In fact, you would be hard pushed to find a dish that does not use it. Popular and versatile, garlic comes both fresh and in the form of powder. While fresh garlic is preferred by many cooks, home and professional alike, it is important to have a pot of garlic powder ready to go in the cupboard, to add that little bit extra of a kick to your dish. It is also a fantastic addition to several dressings, marinades, rubs and seasonings, and can be used in a variety of cuisines.
When you think of cinnamon, often you will feel yourself reminiscing about Christmas, desserts and warmth. Ground cinnamon is indeed a fantastic addition to all of your favourite desserts (and everything that involves apple!), but to the surprise of many, that’s not all it is useful for. It isn’t uncommon to find recipes for stews, curries and condiments advising the addition of cinnamon for that extra flavour kick.
It is easy to assume that the fresh counterpart of a herb is the most flavourful and therefore should be your first choice when it comes to your cooking. However, in the case of dried oregano, this is simply untrue. With its pungent flavour and exceptional versatility, dried oregano is an absolute must for your cupboard. Particularly popular in Mediterranean cooking, you will rarely see a Greek recipe that does not require a touch of oregano, but you can also find this flavour-packed ingredient in a multitude of other food items including oils, dressings and marinades.
Particularly useful in your Italian dishes, dried basil is a must-have. A best-selling herb, basil offers up warm, peppery undertones and a pungent aroma, adding a real abundance of qualities to your pizza and pasta sauces. Interestingly, dried basil has several properties that are healthy for you, in particular for the respiratory system, making them a great but surprising choice of ingredient for herbal teas.
5. Bay Leaves
Bay leaves are one of the few herbs that are often recommended to be used in their dry form, making them an exciting and essential product to stock in your home. Known in particular for their deeply aromatic properties, when eaten alone, they can be quite bitter to taste. However, when added whole to stocks, stews and sauces, bay leaves are packed with flavour, and work fantastically in dishes alongside basil and oregano.
6. Cayenne Pepper
Particularly for the beginner cook, working with spices can often be an intimidating task. After all, it can be difficult to know when enough is enough, but for many, a little kick of heat is a welcome addition. Cayenne pepper is one of the finest readily available spices and is a fantastic addition to a multitude of dishes, in particular spicy marinades and bottled hot sauces.
Paprika is an absolute crowd pleaser and an essential cupboard staple. Derived from the capsicum, with a sweet, earthy and peppery taste, you will find paprika in an array of different cuisines including Spanish, Eastern European and Mexican. Paprika is particularly popular in Hungary, which is where you will often find the finest quality versions of this spice. Its bright red colour makes it a popular spice for bringing a bit more vibrancy to your stews, meat, rice and soups.
Rosemary is a dried herb that offers a woodsy, fragrant flavour and aroma profile to your cooking. Incredibly popular in Mediterranean, French and Italian cuisines, it is often used to flavour oils, bread, tomato-based sauces and meat. Needle-like in appearance, rosemary is fantastic both fresh and dried and can also be used to flavour sweet foods, including biscuits.
Of course, the reality is that we could spend all day listing the spices and herbs that should sit in your cupboard, because the choices are endless, and their uses even more so. However, Chef Will Made It stated that with the aforementioned eight sitting in your kitchen, you can guarantee a flavourful dish, regardless of the cuisine, you are exploring.
About Chef Will Made It
Chef Will Made It is a friendly, enthusiastic Chef with 15 years of specialization in high volume fine dining and a lifetime of experience making delicious home cooked meals. He loves how cooking enables him to express himself and has become a well recognized figure in the culinary world with over 20,000,000 views on Youtube and 3 highly-anticipated cookbooks in production.
Chef Will Made It provides his private chef services to a-list celebrity families, famous athletes, and movie stars in Southern California and around the world. He loves taking pleasure in the smiles and happiness of people enjoying the meals he has created. As a natural leader, Chef Will Made It is a reliable team player and has a proven track record of making great food that entices his diners and leaves them wanting more.
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