When setting up your kitchen there are a few items that should always be at hand. Having the essentials makes it very easy to cook from scratch. With these 10 items you will always have a base to start a meal from!

1. Olive Oil: preferably extra virgin olive oil. This ingredient is used in a variety of dishes from salads dressings to marinades or just put a little bit on top of grilled fish to compliment the flavor.

2. Kosher Salt: I love kosher salt because it has wonderful flavor and contains no preservatives and it has a less salty taste than iodized salt.

3. Garlic: by far one of my favorite ingredients. Fresh garlic can be used in so many ways including salad dressings, in a rub, to infuse oils, with pasta, meat, salad, vegetables, fish and meat.

4. Eggs: can be utilized in breakfast, lunch and dinner. Eggs can be a meal in themselves, a base for a soufflé or a key ingredient in baking.  I only use organic or cage-free eggs.

5. Vinegar: I prefer sherry vinegar but whatever you like is fine.  Vinegar is a key ingredient that can be used in many dishes such as a base for vinaigrette that can be for salads or vegetable dishes.

6. Onions: onions are great because they can be manipulated into so many different flavors.  They can be used raw, to flavor a stock, or cooked slowly to create a delicious sauce or soup.

7. Hot Mustard: the most commonly used hot mustard is Dijon. When used correctly hot mustard can add just the right amount of spice to a dish.

8. Flour: a necessity in a French kitchen as a staple ingredient for baking.  I use whole wheat flour, or mix it with regular flour, when possible.

9. Sugar: also a key ingredient in baking.  I also use natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup when possible.

10. Peppercorns: I like to use mixed peppercorn with a good grinder (like Peugeot).

Having these 10 ingredients is a great way to start building a well-stocked kitchen.  Here’s an example – to make your own vinaigrette, mix one part vinegar for three parts of olive oil with 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons of Dijon mustard.  Add salt and pepper to taste and whisk together.  Voila!  In 2 minutes you have a delicious, preservative-free fresh dressing.

If you would like a kitchen consultation from Chef Jean-Philippe just send us an e-mail through our website or call AYS Catering at (805) 966-4574.