The secret ingredient

Stylist discovers the staples we should all have in our cupboards...

Words: Amy Grier, illustrations: Harry Malt

  • Tom Aikens, chef

    Monti Sabini Olive Oil, £19.95

    “I use this at home and in all my restaurants. It’s smooth, intense and slightly peppery – perfect on salads, for cooking or just on fresh bread.”

  • Russell Norman, restaurateur

    A Vogel Herbamare, £7.86

    “I use this organic kosher Swiss herb seasoning instead of salt to transform sauces and stews – it even lifts a standard spag bol.”

  • Marina O’Loughlin, food critic

    Merchant Gourmet lentils, £1.79

    “Just squidge the puy lentils out of the pack and add herbs or chilli – wonderful with good sausages or meaty fish.”

  • Yotam Ottolenghi, chef

    Al Wadi tahini paste, £3

    “Lebanese tahini paste makes fantastic dressings for roasted vegetables or lamb. Mix it with water, lemon juice and garlic.” Available from any good Middle Eastern food shop

  • Diana Henry, food writer

    Ortiz tinned anchovies, £3.79

    “This brand blasts the tastebuds. Serve with tomatoes and pepper on bread or purée with pine nuts, garlic, oil and lemon to make a pesto.”

  • Thomasina Miers, chef and owner of Wahaca

    Tabasco sauce, from £2

    “I use this in a Bloody Mary, to pep up ceviche and to add fire to cheese on toast. I couldn’t live without it.” Available from your local supermarket

  • Lily Vanilli, baker

    Visciole A Mollo cherries, £28.95

    “These pitted sour cherries steeped in cherry wine are great on cheesecakes, in cocktails or just on their own with yoghurt or ice cream.”

  • Theo Randall, chef

    De Cecco spaghetti, £1.56

    “The best dried pasta. Cook and mix it with four anchovy fillets, 150g chopped mozzarella, 100g rocket, black pepper and a splash of olive oil.”

  • Nigella Lawson, cook and food writer

    Colman's Mustard, £1.21

    “I am never without a jar. I add it, along with fresh dill, to chicken soup or heat in a pan with saké and soy to make a sauce for steak.”

  • Theo Randall, chef

    Ferron Carnaroli rice, £6.50

    "People love Arborio, but the best risotto is made with Carnaroli rice – just add onion, garlic, white wine and any vegetable to turn it into a hearty meal."

  • Rachel O’Sullivan, head chef at Spuntino

    Giuliano Tartufi truffle oil, £15

    "This pungent oil is perfect for giving pasta, risottos and salad dressings a kick but I use it to make truffled egg toast too."

  • Yotam Ottolenghi, chef

    Clearspring Marukura Sweet White Miso, £5.29

    "Iadd this to soups and it’s also great for marinating chicken, quail or duck or mixing with vinegar and mirin to brush over aubergine before roasting."

  • Tom Aikens, chef

    Waitrose Pure Canadian Maple Syrup, £4.59

    "For pancakes, making maple glazed ham or just pouring over ice cream, this brand is perfect – ant it’s not too sweet, so particularly nice with bacon."

  • Lily Vanilli, baker

    Marraiges Flour, around £10

    "Marriages are a sixth generation millers in Chelmsford that do great strong white or wholemeal flour for bread making, plus plain and self raising for cakes."

  • William Drew, editor of Restaurant Magazine

    Fresh parmesan, prices vary

    "Call me an stereotypical food snob, but there is little better than proper fresh parmigiano – whether grated on top of pretty much anything or scoffed somewhat guiltily in chunks on its own. It also lasts for months and gets better with age. I get mine from the Whole Foods cheese counter."


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