Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A peek in our pantry... Part I

We've been getting a few e-mails asking us to talk about what we keep stocked in our pantry. Since we are not making many new (if any) dishes because of the remodel, this would be a good time to do some show and tell! Here are some of the sweeter-type staples we have around. I will try and get a savory one and a freezer version up sometime if you're not bored with reading this!

We stumbled upon Penzeys when we lived near Minneapolis a few years ago, around the same time I started to seriously get involved in changing the way we look at and eat food. Even though we don't live near a brick and mortar store anymore (sigh...), I still keep myself well stocked with their goodies - especially these first two items.

I always have big bags of their Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cassia Cinnamon in the spice cabinet (or freezer) - they recommend reducing the amount in recipes as it is pretty strong, however I leave it the same and never had it overpower anything. Inhaling the sweet smell when opening a fresh bag is almost intoxicating!

Dutch Process Cocoa is another item I keep handy. I do have a bag of their natural cocoa in case a recipe calls for it or if baking soda is the leavener and a specific type is not called for. I find the flavor to be more rich, delicate and smoother than the natural which can be a little bitter.

For chocolate chips, we often opt for the industrial sized bag of Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet. I do keep some smaller bags of peanut butter, butterscotch and milk chocolate chips to use as mix-ins though.

When I need chocolate chunks or chocolate for melting, I grab the big block I get from Trader Joe's. I like the quality for everyday use, but I will splurge for Valrhona or Callebaut from Whole Foods for special projects.

Since moving out east, I find myself keeping a supply of true Fluff in the pantry as well. It was such fun to use it in the Fluffer Nutter Bars and of course in peanut butter sandwiches!

With all this sweetness, you can't forget one important ingredient to offset it... salt! I have and pretty much always used Morton's Kosher Salt. I tried Diamond once, but just didn't care for it. The one time I prefer to not use it is in recipes for frosting - I like to use fine popcorn salt as it seems to dissolve better for me and leaves no grainy texture. I like to throw a pinch or two in baked goods if the recipe does not call for it just because it seems to bring out the flavors more. I keep it in a handy dish I received as a Christmas gift - it's the one from Alton Brown.


  1. Penzey's spices and herbs are wonderful. I use them almost exclusively.

    If you want an super cooking magazine subscribe to Penzeys One. One of the best I've seen and I get them all.

  2. Upon reading about Penzy's on your blog, I requested their catalog. I have an acquaintance that works for McCormick's and gets most of my normal spices, but there are some really neat things I would like to try from Penzy's. Have you guys tried any of their salad dressings. They look like they might be interesting. I would also like to try their hot chocolate. I might get some for Christmas gift baskets this year. If you have tried any of those things, let me know what you think.

  3. Really cool to see your spices and pantry thingies while you are renovating the kitchen! By the way, good luck, and it must be so exciting to get a new kitchen!!
    I love your salt dish, always wanted one of those myself! I love Alton Brown show!

  4. Oops! And I also recommend the baking spice and the cake spice, the only two blends from Penzeys that I find worth buying ... but they're spectacular, you'd especially like them, Joe, with all your baking ...

  5. Nice salt container...I have one of those myself. Gotta love the fluff!!

  6. I was so excited when the brick and mortar Penzey's opened near us (Boston). We recently received one of the giant grill and broil boxes--there's some incredible stuff in there! Good luck with the new kitchen!

    Oh, and Linda--I have tried the Green Goddess and another dressing I can't think of now--both were delicious.

  7. I LOVE the Vietnamese cinnamon! I never reduce the amount either, and it always tastes wonderful.

  8. I just bought some Ceylonese cinnamon from a local fabulous spice shop - very mellow.

    I do envy you your kitchen and pantry - even with the dust!

  9. I can't wait for Pantry... Part II.

    I want those Ghirardelli chips. As a metter of fact I would take anything since I bake a lot and we don't find much around here.

    Have a good renovation.

  10. Carole - Thanks for the tip!

    Linda - We haven't tried the dressings, but I've heard good things!

    Ana - Thanks - it is exciting!

    AK - I thought about buying it while we were at the store in AZ, but I talked myself out of it... we will have to order some next time!

    Jeff - It's a great piece!

    Jen - Thanks!

    Crystal - Yeah!

    Ruth - Thanks!

    Helene - Sorry you can't find them there =( that is a tragedy!

  11. Hi Joe. I've been wondering about the different types of cinnamon - I've been sticking with the Korintje Cassia. I will have to give the Vietnamese a try.

    Love those Ghirardelli chips - I stock up at Sam's. We like to eat them straight from the bag, so they can disappear a bit fast sometimes. I wish they would make these chips in a regular chocolate-chip size for those recipes where you want a smaller chip....

    I've toyed with doing a pantry list too........maybe some day. I'm still working on my kitchen hardware list....

  12. Hi Joe. I just thought I'd mention that the Trader Joe's chocolate (like the pound-plus bar) is Callebaut, so there's no reason to pay more for it at Whole Foods when you want some!
    It pretty much made my day when I learned that, so I try to pass it along when I can! =)

  13. Alysha - Do try the Vietnamese - so worth it! I look forward to your list!

    Nic - Wow really? I was always told they were Ghirardelli... thank you for telling me. Thats awesome!