Liquid Spices

10 liquids you should always keep in your pantry to flavor a meal.



Grilled Pork Chop with Sausage Hash

©Chiyacat/istockphoto

I love to cook as much as I love to eat out. Usually my inspiration for cooking comes from watching cooking shows on the television or eating something divine at a restaurant, which in turn compels me to go home and try to re-create it. With the Internet as such a comprehensive source of information, it is not hard to research recipes and take the best elements of a few recipes to make up one of my own. 

Following is a list of ten “liquid spices” that I always have in my pantry. I call them ‘spices' because they help flavor the food I cook. 

Red Wine: What a perfect ingredient to add depth of flavor to many dishes. Classic use for red wine in my kitchen is to make a red wine reduction for steak. It is also perfect to marinade lamb and steaks. The uses are endless!

White Wine: It goes so great with fish and chicken dishes. A classic Beurre Blanc sauce can be made easily with white wine reduction. Or try a few dashes of white wine on your fish (cod or tilapia…), wrap it in aluminum foil with capers, shallots, garlic — and bake it off in the oven. Simple and simply yum!
Note: Often times recipes call for just a cup of wine. Instead of opening a whole bottle of wine, I like to stock up my pantry with mini wine bottles from Stew Leonard’s Wine Shop in Norwalk. Each bottle has about two glasses of wine.

Sherry: Perfect to deglaze a pan after sautéing ingredients or after browning meats. It helps to pick up all the flavor bits stuck to the pan as well as to add a new depth to the flavor profile. It is so good when cooking dishes like Chicken Marsala or Linguini in Clam Sauce. 

Cognac: WOW! Love cognac in my French Onion soup. I also like to use a dash of cognac in my gravy for turkey or chicken. It is excellent when preparing cream sauces for your entrees, and is absolutely divine in risotto. Oh! It’s also great in one of my favorite desserts….tiramisu.

Moving away from alcohol (finally!)... 

Clam Juice: One of the essentials in my pantry for when I cook any kind of seafood. It really adds amazing depth of flavor and helps create a delectable sauce. It is the other liquid spice that goes into my linguini and clam sauce. I even add it to my mussels in white wine sauce, for that extra “seafood” flavor.

Fish Sauce/Hoisin Sauce/Soy Sauce: While these are three separate ingredients, they actually go together in my pantry. Anytime I feel like cooking with an Asian flair, these sauces come in very handy. Stir fry your chicken, shrimp or beef with these three, then serve it up with some jasmine rice! I find each of these sauces quite complex in flavor, and when combined, they make food taste like tons of ingredients and hours of hard work went into it.

Vinegar: There are so many varieties of vinegar — red, white, sherry, rice wine, etc. Each subtly different from the other, yet each serving that one common purpose of adding a tangy flavor to your dish. I also LOVE balsamic vinegar to finish some of my dishes like roasted asparagus. How about topping your mozzarella, basil, tomato salad with it?
Note: Did you know that vinegar helps tenderize meats? Vinegar also helps curb your sweet cravings (dieters rejoice!)

Broth/Stock: Whether you use chicken, beef, veal, or vegetable, broths and stocks are the perfect ingredient to create a base for any sauce or gravy. As the broth thickens, its flavors intensify, and in most cases, all you need is a bit more salt, a dash of pepper and Voila!

Now, my question to you: When it comes to “liquid spices," how does my pantry’s must-have list compare to yours?


Yamini ImageFairfield County Foodie: A Die-Hard Foodie & A Food Blogger
A self-proclaimed chocoholic and an avid eater with a passion for world cuisine, Fairfield County Foodie loves to try out new restaurants while constantly updating her list of favorite go-to’s. With a passion for cooking, she delights in delicious easy to follow recipes that make her guests feel like she has been slaving over the stove for hours. Psst…let’s keep this as our little secret, shall we?

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