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What every kitchen cupboard should have

Ever opened your kitchen cupboards or fridge, stared bleakly inside at all the hundreds of miscellaneous half-used bottles, jars and packages and wondered what to make for dinner?

Only about six times a week.

While the cupboards might be filled to overflowing, they may not be filled with the right stuff.

Having the right ingredients stowed away in the kitchen cupboards is the first step to get a cooking-friendly kitchen, a kitchen primed for any gourmet meal.

The ingredients don’t have to be expensive and they don’t have to be from far flung exotic places. They just have to be there, readily available so that you can whip up a tasty salad or a filling pasta dish, a zesty steak or a fancy pizza.

Lauren Piper, the owner of the Whistler Cooking School, shares some of the secrets of her shelves.

The school is coming up on its two year anniversary next month and over the past two years, Piper has had the chance to stockpile her school with all the necessary ingredients that some of the best chefs in the Pacific Northwest could ever want.

These chefs, like Brock Windsor from the Bearfoot Bistro and Bob Dykes former chef of Umberto Menghi’s II Caminetto and the Fish House in Stanley Park, use them in their creations at the school when they walk students through the preparation of a gourmet meal.

Piper starts off her list with some canned goods, the most important of which are canned tomatoes.

Lining the shelves of the school are cans of San Marazano tomatoes, Piper’s top choice. An organic brand of tomatoes called Muir Glen comes in a close second.

"We use (canned tomatoes) for any kind of tomato pasta sauce," she said. "We’ll use them for making Gazpacho and probably a hundred different stews. We use them all the time."

Canned tomatoes seem like they would be a staple in any kitchen but Piper then rhymed off some other not-so-common canned goods, among them anchovies and capers.

"We do a lot of Mediterranean classes and in Provence anchovies are used all the time and in Italy they’ll use them too, so we seem to need those on a regular basis," she said.

Tuna is another staple, along with artichoke hearts, which she said are great for throwing on top of a pasta dish or a salad or even a pizza.

And rounding off the canned good section are canned beans, specifically chick peas and black beans.

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