While most of us are social creatures and enjoy entertaining friends and family all year long, the holidays add a whole new level of pressure to entertaining. There are the favorite dishes for Thanksgiving and Christmas, like Grandma’s chestnut dressing or Uncle Herbert’s famous ham glaze that have to make their annual appearance at the table. Additionally, international cuisine has become standard fare in most kitchens and it can be fun to mix it up when it comes to holiday menus, like serving homemade tamales alongside the turkey.
So, is your pantry ready for the onslaught of enticing culinary challenges with all the herbs, spices and exotic ingredients you’ll need? When the mixing bowls are out or the pans are simmering on the stove it’s not the time to discover you don’t have the Cilantro, Cumin or Star Anise that you need. Before the flurry of endless baking and holiday cooking begins, take time to evaluate your pantry and get it in shape for this most wonderful time of the year!
Must-have spices for every home
Even people who don’t cook have salt and pepper, so before we go international, here is a checklist of spices and flavorings most commonly found in American kitchens.
- Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg, Allspice, Ginger
- Cumin, Turmeric, Paprika, Curry
- Bay leaves, Basil, Oregano, Rosemary, Parsley
- Red Chili Flakes, Chili Powder, Cayenne
- Garlic and onion, diced or powdered
- Flavor extracts: peppermint, spearmint, vanilla, almond, maple
This list encompasses sweet, savory and hot and spicy to accommodate a wide range of cooking tastes as well as the basics for most international cuisine.
Create an international pantry
The challenge comes with ethnic dishes that require herbs and spices you may not have even in a well-stocked pantry. Flavors, additives and foods native to other countries that bring in tantalizing and exotic aromas and tastes may be something you have to specifically shop for.
Before you rush out and stock up on unfamiliar spices or foods, research recipes for dishes you like and find exactly what you’ll need. You may find that you only need a few additional exotics for those special dishes to spice up your holiday fare:
- Creole and Cajun cooking: cardamom, celery seed
- Middle Eastern: Tahini, coriander, mint
- Greek: Dill, Vinegar, Yogurt, Kalamata olive oil
- Mexican: Cilantro, limes, poblano, habanero and jalapeno chilies, Anise Stars
- Caribbean/Central American: coconut milk, thyme
- Indian: Mustard seed, cardamom, mango powder, garam masala
- Southeast Asian: Sesame oil, soy sauce, lemongrass, Thai basil
- Chinese: Rice vinegar, sesame seeds, soy sauce, rice noodles
- Japanese: Dark sesame oil, kombu seaweed, soybean paste, sake, wasabi
- French: Truffle oil, Raspberry vinegar
- Italian: Red wine vinegars
Here are some links to ethnic dishes you might like to try:
- Crisply fried latkes can replace regular mashed potatoes
- Persian basmati rice stuffing is a delicious addition to cranberry sauce and gravy
- Argentinian alfajores are buttery dulce de leche-filled cookies for a decadent dessert
- Italian super cheesy and vegetarian manicotti
- Avocado and Roasted Yam Fall Ensalada, a healthy and colorful side dish
- Elegant Green Beans with mushrooms and water chestnuts one-up ordinary green bean casserole
A custom pantry makes entertaining a breeze
A custom pantry from Tailored Living will not only help with having the right spices when you need them, it will keep all facets of cooking and entertaining organized and in check. Pantry design for the way you live and cook will accommodate everything you need from cooking utensils to holiday serving dishes to baking staples and favorite family snacks and drinks.
- Vertical storage shelves capture all usable storage space to maximize efficiency
- Custom pullouts like bins and drawers make organizing small items easy
- Keep family treats in full view and easy-to-reach so everyone can serve themselves
- Install specialty racks to organize spices, wine and flavored cooking oils
- Integrate work countertops to save steps by preparing meals in the pantry where all the ingredients are
- Full-view storage makes it easy to assess needs when making out a grocery list
- Create a gourmet section of special treats with all your holiday favorites so you don’t run out
There’s still time for a new pantry before Thanksgiving. Call 866-641-8958 (US) or 866-973-8221 (CAN) today to schedule a FREE, in-home consultation or go online to www.tailoredliving.com to find a designer near you. Scroll through our online Design Solutions Guide for dozens of home organization ideas and get your whole home organized before the guests arrive and you’ll have more time to relax and enjoy the season.