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My favourite ingredient...

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Stylist's foodie heroines know which ingredients make a killer dish. Here they reveal exclusively to us what their favourite produce is and why. Read on to find out about the cherished delights of Lily Vanilli, Rachel Khoo, Mary Berry and more...

Do you have your own hero ingredient? Tweet us @StylistMagazine or leave a comment below to let us know what it is!

Picture credit: REX features Words: Dipal Acharya

Thomasina Miers' favourite ingredient

What's your favourite ingredient and why?

I love cooking with vegetables as they are so diverse and you can do so much with them and I never get bored going to my farmers’ market at Queen’s Park, London, choosing a vegetable that is in season and then creating something delicious with it. My husband would say, however, that I am unable to cook without chillies!

Thomasina is co-founder of Wahaca Restaurants

Lily Vanilli's favourite ingredient

What's your favourite ingredient and why?

I love fresh fruit such as cherries and berries, at the moment. I'm also really interested in using different fruits & vegetables (such as parsnip, mushrooms, avocados, sweet potato, courgettes and beetroot) for interesting flavour and natural sweetness. I'm also working on a smoked cake, which is much tastier than it might sound!

lilyvanilli.com

Esther Walker's favourite ingredient

What's your favourite ingredient and why?

My favourite ingredient to cook with is salt because you can have the best ingredients and the flashiest knife skills, but if you're not confident with your seasoning, you might as well be serving up Blu-Tak.

Reciperifle.co.uk

Rachel Khoo's favourite ingredient

What's your favourite ingredient and why?

Full fat crème fraîche because it's so versatile. It can be used for both savoury recipes (add a spoon to tomato sauce to give it some richness for instance) or sweet recipes (delicious with fresh fruit and dark chocolate grated on top). I love it just spread on toast with a sprinkling of black pepper or chopped fresh herbs.

thelittlepariskitchen.com

Helene Darroze's favourite ingredient

What's your favourite ingredient and why?

My greatest inspiration is the area where I am from in the South West of France - it inspires many of my recipes in terms of ingredients, such as Espelette peppers.

Helene Darroze at The Connaught Hotel

Mary Berry's favourite ingredient

What's your favourite ingredient and why?

Eggs ! They are so versatile for savoury and sweet - boiled egg in 4 minutes, scrambled eggs in 5, souffle in 20 minutes..

Maryberry.co.uk

Katy Salter's favourite ingredient

What's your favourite ingredient and why?

Spanish smoked paprika is a brilliant ingredient. Buy a little tin of this deep red spice (also known as pimenton) and it'll last you for ages as you only need a tiny smudge of it. I love the smokey note it lends to stews and it's musky sweetness is delicious in things like cheese scones and muffins or sprinkled over poached eggs.

Pinchofsaltlondon.com

Ravinder Bhogal's favourite ingredient

What's your favourite ingredient and why?

It is so difficult to pick just one ingredient but I love the intense mouth puckering sharpness of tamarind. It finds its way into lots of my recipes.

Cook in Boots is available now

Anna Hansen's favourite ingredient

What's your favourite ingredient and why?

I am a big fan of all things salty (eg umeboshi, miso, fish sauce) and tart (eg umeboshi again, tamarind, verjus, pomegranate molasses). Both are particularly adept at bringing out the best in the other ingredients and flavours surrounding them.

The Modern Pantry

Skye Gyngell's favourite ingredient

What's your favourite ingredient and why?

Just about any vegetable right at the peak of its season! But if I were to be really pushed, it would have to come down to a really good quality sea salt - as good seasoning holds the power to transform!

Lorraine Pascale's favourite ingredient

What's your favourite ingredient and why?

Lime, it's one of the most beautiful smells in the world. Delicious in a Minty mojito, gorgeous in a lime and vanilla cheesecake and equally tasty squeezes on to fish or added to savory dishes at the last minute to give it extra zing. A very versatile ingredient.

Clare Smyth's favourite ingredient

What's your favourite ingredient and why?

Perigord truffles at the moment. They are so incredibly powerful, indulgent, delicious and unique. You only have to use the smallest amount to get this amazing flavour. People are always very excited to eat them as it gives a real sense of occasion.

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay

Gizzi Erskine's favourite ingredient

What's your favourite ingredient and why?

If I'm trying to make something super exciting with minimum effort I use lime leaves. I buy frozen ones and keep them in a sandwich box in the freezer. They are great in curries, soups, with fish, pork, you name it... One of my fail safe dishes is pork skewers that is literally lean pork marinated in palm sugar, fish sauce and lime leaves and griddled, serves over rice and Vietnamese salad.

Liberty London Girl's favourite ingredient

What's your favourite ingredient and why?

It changes all the time, but at the moment, in this horrid rainy weather, I'm obsessed with coconut milk. It isn't just vital for delicious Thai & Malaysian curries, but it can be used to add a delicate non-dairy creaminess and depth to soups like mushroom and tomato.

Liberty London Girl

Donna Hay's favourite ingredient

What's your favourite ingredient and why?

Choosing a favourite ingredient is like being asked to choose a favourite child! For versatility I love cooking with chicken, it lends itself to a variety of cooking methods from baking to barbecue and can be enjoyed all year round.

Angela Hartnett's favourite ingredient

What's your favourite ingredient and why?

I don’t actually have a favourite ingredient but I love cooking with herbs, especially basil, rosemary etc.

Murano London

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