Everyone always asks me what I keep in my fridge. Being a Chef, I probably have some of the same things you do. Here are a few tips on what to keep in the icebox if you’re looking to be creative in the kitchen.
Milk- If you don’t like regular milk, try soy, goat, or rice milk. If you do use regular milk, buy organic with some butterfat in it. Skim milk is pointless, and don’t forget, your body needs some fat to help metabolize the vitamins.
Yogurt- Yogurt contains good bacteria that helps in digestion. Yogurt can also be used in place of mayonnaise if you’re watching your caloric intake.
Heavy Cream- There is no substitute for real cream. Whip it up, add a pinch of powdered sugar, and vanilla, and you’ll have a sweet surprise. Place the cream over some fresh berries, or make a sundae. If you try some real cream in your coffee, you’ll be amazed at the depth of flavor it adds.
Buttermilk- Most people are afraid of buttermilk; don’t be. Buttermilk is highly nutritious, and can be used as a marinade for chicken, and is perfect for those Sunday morning pancakes.
Eggs- Make sure to find farm-fresh,organic eggs.
Butter- Butter makes it better right? When you’re buying butter make sure it’s unsalted- you want to be able to control the seasoning in your dishes. If you can find European butter, give it a try.
Fresh Fruit Juices- OJ is a great morning beverage, but it can also be used to make fresh citrus vinaigrette. If you have some fresh pomegranate or grapefruit juice, try making granita.
Lemons and Limes- Great for marinades, as a preservative, and lemons can be used in place of salt.
Cheese- Cheese is a convenient, high-protein snack. It’s also good on sandwiches, casseroles, and sauces. My recommendations are: sharp cheddar, gruyere, gouda, goat, feta, and either provolone or mozzarella.
Tofu- Even if you’re not a huge fan, I always keep some on-hand just in case a vegetarian friend stops by. Combined with some fresh veggies, and olive oil, you can sauté a masterpiece in no time.
Soup Bases- Minor’s soup bases are very authentic. Soup bases are used in a myriad of sauces, and can be used in a pinch if you don’t have time to make stock from scratch.
Veggies- I always try to keep celery, onions, and carrots in the crisper. The vegetables, or Mire Poix, are essential to successful sauces and broths.
Lemons and Limes- Perfect for marinades, can be used as a preservative, and in place of salt.
Olives- Choose your favorites, and keep them handy. They’re perfect for salads, snacks for guests, and even an occasional tapenade.
Wine- It’s always a good idea to have some good white wine in the fridge. Unexpected guests often pop-in, and a cool glass of Chablis will cool their palates. White wine is often used in sauces as well. Always keep a good bottle of champagne around too for those unexpected celebrations.
Beer- Beer is a favorite for many people, but it’s also great to cook with. Make a thick Guinness stew during those cold winter months.
Mustard- I’m not talking about the bright yellow stuff here; find some good Dijon. Dijon mustard is tasty on all types of sandwiches, especially lean roast beef.
Mayonnaise- In a pinch, you can have some homemade tuna, chicken, or egg salad. Mayonnaise is also an important ingredient in crab cakes.
Herbs- Fresh herbs are available in almost all supermarkets these days. A good way to keep them fresh: simply wet a paper towel, wrap the herbs inside, and refrigerate. Which herbs should you buy? Try rosemary, thyme, sage, cilantro, Italian flat-leaf parsley, oregano, and basil.
Apples, Oranges, Pears, etc… Not only is fruit a healthy snack, you can use it in many different dishes. Try making pear chutney, or a Waldorf salad with some tart Granny Smith Apples.
Preserves- If you can find good preserves, make sure to keep some in the fridge. They’re great on the left-over handmade bread, scones, waffles, and pancakes.
Bacon- Bacon=Flavor. Use it any way you want, or just eat it plain. Don’t buy the cheap stuff- find some exceptional thick-cut bacon that’s smoked, or maple cured.
These are just a few example of what I like to keep in my fridge, what’s in yours?
Let us know!
Chef Chuck Kerber