*Guest post by chicago foodie girl contributor, Diana
I'm back with another Friday Five! This one is going to be interesting, because whittling down the list to just five items may be difficult. But here goes my top five favorite kitchen ingredients:
1. Truffle Salt
I discovered truffle salt at my very first cooking class and I was ah-mazed! Once the taste of earthy mushrooms and sea salt touched my tongue, I was hooked! It's one of the most expensive condiments in my pantry, but it's worth it.
And it works with everything. My favorites: mashed potatoes, eggs, tater tots (haha!), grilled chicken, steak, grilled or roasted veggies of any kind, and it works great in all kinds of vegetarian dishes as well.
2. Roasted Garlic Grapeseed Oil
Another cooking class find. Adds a nice light garlic flavor to whatever you're cooking. Grapeseed oil has a high smoke point, so you can cook at high temperatures without worrying about burning the oil. Although I wouldn't recommend deep frying with this stuff, as it's expensive, but if you have the money to burn, be my guest. And don't forget to invite me over. I'll bring dessert. :)
I grew up eating a lot of garlic, as it was my mother's #1 seasoning tool. She put garlic in everything. Well, except dessert. Little did we know how much heart healthy love she was giving us. And bad breath, too. Ha ha!
But seriously, I am a big fan of garlic. I put it in just about everything and use it in all kinds of way, but I really love it roasted. Take a bulb of garlic, slice off the top to expose the cloves, put it down on a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil. Drizzle some of your favorite olive oil over the cloves, seal it tightly and bake it in a 400 degree oven for about 30ish minutes or until the cloves are soft. Once it cools, put the bulb in your hand with the exposed cloves facing up, turn your hand over a bowl and squeeze the soft, sweet, roasted yumminess that you can use in anything. Personally, I've used it in place of butter and it's great.
If you know me, you know I love making breakfast. The ingredients are simple and so versatile, especially eggs. I only go for the cage free kind, they just taste better and at least you know the chickens are being handled humanely.
I love to make frittatas or omelets with all kinds of things - usually whatever is in the fridge or freezer, so breakfast can sometimes be a great success or a great disaster. If the latter occurs, we usually end up having pancakes or going out for breakfast. :)
5. Vanilla Bean Paste
Another cooking class discovery! I love to cook with whole vanilla beans, but often times the beans dry out (since I don't bake that often) and I'd have to throw them away, and they aren't cheap! This is a great substitute for vanilla beans and has a 1:1 ratio to vanilla extract.
The flavor is much richer than regular vanilla extract and it shines through in whatever you add it to, since it contains actual vanilla beans that you can actually see, making your baked goods look like you bought it from a fancy bakery! :)
I even add it to my coffee every once in awhile and it's better than flavored creamer!
Now it's your turn! What are your favorite kitchen ingredients?
Have a great weekend!