It’s been said that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill. While we’re sure that being great at piano, speaking fluent French or beatboxing like Biz Markie are all great things to master, none of those skills taste as good during the 9,999 hours of practice in becoming a master in the kitchen. You also learn so much along the way, from seasoning correctly and chopping onions without chopping off your finger to properly poaching an egg, that by the time you get to even 3,000 hours of practice, you’re probably a better cook than most of your friends.
As two ladies who are both somewhere along the way to the 10,000 hours, we wanted to impart upon you some of our favorite ingredients to have on hand in the kitchen. Get familiar with these kitchen staples to take your food from tasting like 1,000 hours to that coveted 10,000.
All Truffle Everything
Photo by Mountain Mama Cooks
We’ve been screaming about truffles and the oils and salts they come in for a while now — and with good reason. Using truffle olive oil, salt or cheese in place of their plain counterparts adds a flavor to your dishes that you just can’t get anywhere else and adds a sophisticated, restaurant-quality taste to even the most-basic dishes. Roast vegetables in a drizzle of truffle olive oil (pictured), mix truffle salt with soft butter and use when frying eggs or grate truffle cheese to finish off a bowl of pasta.
Whole-Grain Dijon Mustard
Photo by My Homespun Home
Add a tablespoon of tasty whole-grain mustard to a homemade salad dressing, toss vegetables in it before roasting in the oven or add it to mashed potatoes for another layer of flavor. It’s a cheap, classy way to add bold flavors to simple dishes and it’s also simple to make at home.
As much as we’d like to make fresh chicken stock or broth on a regular basis, the reality of our schedules — not to mention kitchen and fridge space — doesn’t make it possible. We do, however, make sure to always have a couple of boxes of low-sodium chicken stock or broth on hand to splash into sauces, deglaze a pan or use in place of water when cooking grains and rice for a flavor profile you just can’t find anywhere else.
Photo by Divine Caroline
Georgia has a type-A confession: Fresh herbs stress her out. So much so that she sometimes won’t make a recipe that calls for them. This is silly, of course, because fresh herbs add so much more brightness to a dish than dried ones, but the thought of using one or two stems from a packet of herbs, then the rest going bad in the fridge, is enough to keep her away. This is why we’ve decided to start planting fresh herbs indoors. Neither of our tiny apartments is equipped with private outdoor space, so a window box will have to suffice for our fresh herb needs. Here’s a great list of what and how to grow indoors.