5 Ingredients I Couldn't Live Without

Ok, I probably could live without them but that would ruin my catchy title, wouldn't it? Well here they are...

Preserved Lemons: I first made preserved lemons using a recipe from Ottolenghi's Jerusalem book. If you don't have the book you can find it online here. This is a good blog post by Alexandra Cooks giving two different methods of preserving lemons. I made Ottolenghi's as Christmas presents and kept a jar for myself. The flavour gets more and more intense the longer you leave them and a little goes a long way. They are amazing in salads and stews but at the moment my favourite way of serving them is stirring them, finely chopped, through thick natural or Greek yoghurt. Serve this with grilled or roasted meat and flatbreads. I recently did a roast chicken with a spice rub using coriander, cumin and fennel seeds, ground ginger and cinnamon, dried chilli and salt which worked really well.

Anchovies: This is not my first time declaring my love for anchovies. In my previous post Semplice! Italian Food I spoke about a slight obsession developing over those Italian anchovies and the various ways of serving them. But they're not just for eating whole. They add a depth of flavour to any tomato sauce, stew or casserole. They are also fantastic as an anchovy butter served with beef, lamb or stirred through green vegetables.

Curry Leaves: Fresh is better, of course, but dried are also great. Some of my favourite cuisines: Indian, Sri Lankan and Malaysian use them all the time. I love frying them up with spices and stirring through a dal or in a coconut milk and tamarind curry. I tried a dish in Sri Lanka that was chicken fried in egg, curry leaves, chilli and spices which I attempted the other night. Although the recipes needs some work it was very tasty.

Chilli: If you have seen any of my other blogs, Twitter or Instagram feeds you know about my love of chilli. Enough said really.

Parmesan: Last but not least. I try to always have a block of Parmesan cheese in the fridge. For emergencies. If you have pasta and Parmesan, you have a meal. Yeah I know, pasta and Parmesan, nothing new there. I like to keep things simple. If you want something a bit more... Interesting, have a look at Michelin Star chef Massimo Bottura's 5 ages of Parmigiano Reggiano recipe. Wow. 

As I'm writing this thinking of the little ingredients I couldn't live without, there is one ingredient that I truly detest. It's an odd one but the stuff turns my stomach: white pepper. I thought I was alone until a quick Google search revealed this is quite common. There is even an article in the New York Times which explains that a person's dislike of white pepper may be due to sensitivity to a certain chemical found within it. Give me black pepper any day.