The ingredients are the building blocks of your recipes so be sure to buy the highest quality available. Whenever possible I buy organic especially basic staples like flour, fruits, vegetables, nuts and milk. For recipes that call for milk I frequently use a nondairy substitute like almond or flax milk. For each ingredient I show the specific brand I use but if you can’t find that brand just buy the best quality you can find.
I buy all my spices from Penzeys. They sell varying sizes of jars depending on how much you use them. As soon as I receive an order I write the date on the jar and then I know how long I have had it. I usually replace them every year and if a spice hasn’t been opened I may not replace it at all. If you run out of a particular spice just buy a larger size next time.
This is a staple in my kitchen especially when making bread. When rolling out pasty dough or forming bread loaves I use rice flour rather than all-purpose. It has a coarser texture and is not absorbed as quickly which helps prevent the addition of too much flour and a heavy bread. Most grocery stores sell it. I usually buy Bob’s Red Mill or some other organic brand.
Chocolate / Cocoa
Chocolate is one ingredient that is worth spending the extra money on. Penzeys has a Natural High fat Cocoa Powder that I like. Dutch Process Cocoa has had the acidity reduced to give it a milder flavor so it should not be used with recipes that contain baking soda since the baking soda relies on the acidity to activate it. For unsweetened and bittersweet chocolate I like Valrhona, Scharffen Berger and Green & Black’s (organic).
I usually buy organic flour and if it’s not available I buy a brand I trust like King Arthur Flour. For all-purpose flour I always buy unbleached. Whole Foods carries a wide selection of organic flours as well as cake flour (King Arthur) which is sometimes difficult to find and is a main ingredient in my pizza dough.