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The Pantry & Kitchen Essentials

My Modern Soul Food Pantry & Kitchen Essentials

In making such eclectic recipes for Food Fidelity, we discover and use ingredients and products worth sharing. Listed below you will find the ingredients that fill the Food Fidelity kitchen. I open up my pantry, spice rack, refrigerator and cabinets to you and share not only the ingredients that go into Food Fidelity recipes, but hopefully also, ones that inspire you to make your own creations.

I try to focus on the ones used most frequently, but occasionally some of the more obscure ones show up. I’m always looking for inspiration or new things, so if you have recommendations for things I should add to my pantry please share. I’m what I consider a “flavorphile,” so much of what you will find will cover the entire flavor spectrum.

And because I Food Fidelity recipes cut across the African Diaspora countries and beyond you will find a huge global aspect to the ingredients. The goal is to take basic ingredients (green beans, okra, peaches, chicken, etc.) and convert them to culinary creations using primarily sauces, spices and simple techniques.

BEANS/LEGUMES:

Beans are good sources of both proteins and fiber. Beans are a big part of the diets in many of the cuisines across the African Diaspora. They are also a staple in vegan/vegetarian recipes given their nutritional profile. I use fresh mainly, but keep can on hand as well for convenience.

  • black beans
  • black eyed peas
  • chickpeas 
  • hominy/pozole
  • kidney (red) beans
  • lentils
  • lima/butter beans
  • pinto beans
  • white/navy beans

GRAINS:

Outside of a red beans and rice dish, grains rarely appear with beans/legumes dishes. I treat them both as fillers so it doesn’t always make sense to include them together. Grains are also varied enough, but they represent a way for me to explore cuisines from around the world. They also make for great healthy breakfast recipes.

  • rice/brown rice 
  • basmati rice 
  • black rice 
  • Jasmin rice
  • couscous
  • farro (specialty grocery stores, Amazon, Whole Foods)
  • Grits
  • polenta (typically found same aisle as grits)
  • oats – steel-cut and rolled 
  • quinoa 
  • Teff (specialty grocery stores, Amazon, Whole Foods)
  • wheat berries (specialty grocery stores, Amazon, Whole Foods)

FLOURS/STARCHES:

I’m not much of a baker so I don’t keep a lot of flour or ingredients typically used for baking. There are however enough fried food recipes for me to keep a few different flour types on hand.  I’m a big fan of gluten-free flours in fried foods where there is a premium on crispiness and lightness combined. Oh, I do make killer pancakes/waffles on hand!

  • all-purpose flour
  • almond flour
  • Brown rice flour
  • Corn meal
  • Corn Starch
  • Potato Starch
  • Tapioca Starch

NUTS & SEEDS:

Nuts are my go-to snack. I commit egregious acts of mindless munching with them. I also used them to enhance the texture of a dish.

  • almonds
  • cashews
  • chia seeds
  • flaxseed (whole or ground)
  • Hemp seeds
  • Peanuts
  • pepitas (pumpkin seeds found mostly specialty grocery stores but also occasionally Hispanic section)
  • pistachios
  • sesame seeds (white, black & toasted)
  • sunflower seeds

SWEETENERS:

Given I’m not much of a baker, sweeteners show up for me in my sauces and meat rubs

bottled sweeteners - honey, agave, maple syrup, molasses

  • Agave
  • Brown sugar
  • honey
  • pure maple syrup
  • raw sugar

DRIED & FRESH CHILIS

I cook a lot with chilis - dried, fresh, and ground. They are great flavor seasonings. I use them to add smokiness in place of meat in vegan dishes. They help add layers of flavor in soups and stews. And more often than not they appear in rubs, sauces, etc.

  • Jalapeños
  • Poblanos
  • Habanero/Scotch Bonnet
  • Serrano
  • Chipotle in adoba sauce
  • Dried Ancho (Hispanic section)
  • Dried Pasilla (Hispanic section)
  • Dried Guijillio (Hispanic section)
  • Dried Morita (harder to find; Mexican grocery stores will have them)
  • Thai or Bird’s Eye
  • Chili de arbol

HERBS & SPICES:

Spices are at the core of the food fidelity way. There are a few that are core essentials, but others from across different cultures I pull in to elevate a dish. The beauty of using spices is that you can make really simple ingredients and dishes shine. I make most seasoning mixes and spice rubs myself, but there are a few ethnic blends I buy from spice shops. I also maintain an herb garden with mostly common varieties (parsley, oregano, basil) but also a few heirlooms or unique ones (Cuban oregano, Thai basil, Lemon thyme). More often than not I’m using fresh, but also keep many dried versions on hand as well.

spices and seasonings

  • Allspice
  • Ancho chili powder (spice shops - Penzy’s, Pendery’s, Spice House)
  • basil (fresh pref.)
  • bay leaves
  • caraway seeds (spice shops)
  • cardamom (spice shops)
  • cayenne
  • chili powder
  • Chinese Five Spice
  • chipotle
  • cilantro (fresh pref.)
  • cinnamon
  • cloves
  • Coffee beans or ground
  • coriander
  • cumin
  • curry
  • Epazote (Mexican stores)
  • fennel seeds
  • fenugreek (Spice shops)
  • garam marsala (spice shops, Indian markets)
  • garlic powder
  • ginger
  • Jerk (homemade or spice shop)
  • Lemongrass (produce aisle specialty grocers - Whole Foods,Trader Joes)
  • mustard powder and seeds
  • nutmeg
  • oregano
  • onion powder
  • paprika (sweet)
  • paprika (smoked)
  • parsley (fresh pref.)
  • peppercorns
  • Piri Piri (homemade or spice shop)
  • red pepper flakes
  • Star anise
  • tarragon
  • thyme
  • turmeric
  • vanilla extract and/or vanilla beans
  • za’atar (spice shop)

OILS:

I try to use oils sparingly as possible, but do keep a few on hand. There is no butter in my kitchen, other than nut butters, so oil is essential and used in its place. Depending on what my dish is going to be will depend on my oil. I use coconut oil for most of my baking, sometimes I’ll use olive or grapeseed oil. Sesame oil is used mainly for stir-fries. When roasting vegetables, I use either grapeseed, olive or coconut oil. Extra virgin olive oil is used for dressing and non-heat recipes.

cooking oils

  • coconut oil
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • olive oil 
  • Palm Oil (African grocers or ethnic markets)
  • sesame oil (regular and toasted)
  • Lard
  • Duck fat (amazon and specialty grocers)

FRUIT

  • Fresh limes
  • Fresh lemons
  • Meyer lemons
  • Blood Oranges
  • Frozen berries

VINEGARS:

Vinegar adds a nice zest and tang to dishes. Great in stir-fries, salad dressings and soups. They also lend a hand when an acid is needed, like making vegan buttermilk and cheeses.

vinegars

  • apple cider vinegar
  • balsamic vinegar (white and dark)
  • red wine vinegar
  • rice vinegar
  • Sherry vinegar
  • white vinegar

BUTTERS & CONDIMENTS:

A good assortment of these will go a long way. You can do so much with all of these. From dressings, dips, sauces, spreads and toppings, these are essentials. Many of these are used for recipes focused on the African Diaspora as well as global fusion dishes that show up frequently.

chili pastes and salsas

  • Ghee or clarified butter
  • tahini
  • Miso
  • ketchup (organic)
  • mustard (whole grain, dijon, brown mustard)
  • sriracha
  • chili paste
  • Tapitio, Lousiana, Tabasco, etc. hot sauces
  • Zhoug (Trader Joes or Amazon)
  • Harissa (most grocery stores including both specialty and mainstream)
  • Gochujang
  • Epis (homemade Haitian condiment)
  • Sofrito (homemade Cuban or Puerto Rican)
  • Homemade Stock

CANNED & BOTTLED GOODS:

Of course I want you to cook from scratch as much as possible, but I also realize that not everyone has the desire or time. This is where canned goods can be a great saver of time and energy. Keeping a stocked pantry with some of these essentials means you’ll be able to pull something together rather easily. These also skew very international, especially Asian where many of these products are intensely flavorful and go a long way to taking short-cuts to elevate for simple dishes.

bottled sauces

  • coconut milk (full fat & light)
  • diced tomatoes (pref. fire-roasted)
  • curry paste (red is what I have)
  • mirin - Asian aisle of the grocery store)
  • Ponzu (Asian aisle of the grocery store)
  • Soy Sauce
  • Tamari (GF) (Asian aisle store)
  • Worcestershire Sauce

KITCHEN TOOLS:

I have my fair share of gadgets that I keep on hand in my kitchen. I’m all about efficiency and technique and these are the tools that help me get weeknight meals on the table fast and effortless.

  • food processor
  • blender
  • immersion blender
  • coffee/spice grinder
  • Citrus juicer
  • vegetable peeler
  • spiralizer
  • Apple corer
  • Mandolin
  • mortar & pestle
  • stockpot 
  • mason jars (storage for sauces, grains, and beans)
  • basic measuring spoons
  • assorted wooden spoons
  • can opener
  • kitchen scissors
  • good chef knives & sharpener (I have three sizes: paring, utility & chef)
  • cutting board (various sizes are helpful)
  • colander (small to large)
  • fine mesh strainer
  • Sous vide
  • Instant Pot
  • Deep fryer
  • Cast iron skillet

ON-LINE RESOURCES FOR BUYING SPICES & HARD TO FIND PRODUCTS:

Penzy’s Spices

Pendery’s Chilis & Spices

Spice House

Amazon